At investment banks and other financial institutions, "managing director" does not refer to the chief executive but can rather refer to the head of a major business unit.
The term Chief Executive (or in other countries Chief Executive Officer or just "CEO") is in general usage in the United Kingdom for the senior executive of public limited companies, charities and Executive Agencies. At subsidiary companies usage is more variable, with managing director often preferred.
The Managing director is responsible for both the day-to-day running of the company and developing business plans for the long term future of the organisation. The Managing director is accountable to the board and the shareholders of the company. It is the board that grants the Managing Director the authority to "run" the company.
In addition to the Managing Director, most companies have a Board of Directors. This board usually consists of such posts as: Finance Director, Sales Director, IT Director, Marketing Director, Technical Director and Chairman. In addition to these posts there may be a number of other directors including non-executive directors.
The Managing Director is a leadership role for an organisation and he fulfills a motivational role for his workers in addition to his more office-based work. MDs motivate and mentor members of the management team and chair meetings. The MD leads the company and develops the corporate culture for the organisation.
As the title suggests, the Managing director needs to manage everything. This includes the staff, the customers, the budget, the company's assets and all other company resources to make the best use of them and increase the company's profitability.
The MD or Senior MD reports to the Board of Directors on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, annual or every decade basis to keep them informed of how the company is doing. The board will offer suggestions and ideas about how to improve the company to the Managing Director. It is the MD's responsibility to implement, improve upon or ignore these ideas.
The MD is legally responsible for the company's affairs, so he must comply with the appropriate rules and regulations set out in corporate law. These include following the proper audit procedure and not allowing the company to break any trade embargos or deal in any illegal goods.