Finance business partnering is more than a buzz word. Rather, it is a term that defines a structured, forward-thinking strategy within a business to leverage the power of financial services into customer/business-focused success. In 2017, authors Bo Foged, Henriette Fynsk, and Anders Liu-Lindberg published a book titled Create value as a Finance Business Partner – from cost centre to profit centre to posit the importance of a finance business partner.
But, what exactly is a finance business partner and how can they create value? More importantly, do you even need one? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is worth the read because linking up with just any finance partner wouldn’t promise success.
Finance Business Partnering
Business partners are, by all sense of the term, partners of your business that add value within the operations and management units through real-time support, analysis and drive performance. Finance professionals no longer function within exclusive silos churning numbers. Instead, they empower businesses. Traditionally, finance teams are considered the unsung heroes of an organisation – they work in ‘behind the scenes’ roles as gatekeepers of financial data. However, finance business partnering removes the unit from the background and deposit in front and centre of the organisation. The work conducted by the finance team touches every single aspect of a business. We aren’t talking marketing, HR and the likes. We mean the operational element, the risk element and the people element of a business.
Using the aforementioned definition as the foundation, we can now dive into the value it provides businesses. Successful finance partnering is a way of thinking that lies at the heart of an organisation’s problem-solving capacity. Why? Because it is the mediator between the financials and the operations that provide value to the customer. Financial partners are commercially and operationally aware in order to understand how a business they’re in partnership with can provide the most numbers-backed value. They have the ability to not only influence the management but stakeholders and even the customers themselves.
By far, the most important facet of getting onboard a financial business partner is the ability to shape decisions, from day-to-day choices to shaping strategy and the entire direction the business needs to take to remain afloat. As such, a financial business partner is a stakeholder to the business and a powerful one at that as it can provide insight on organisation positioning and analysis of information.
Finance business partners aren’t accountants or controllers. They are skilled experts who can churn numbers into planning, executing and analysing plans for a business to thrive as an entire unit. Whether you’re a small one-man team spearheading success within your business or an organisation with employees in the hundreds, they can help your business flourish. Why? Because they learn from the past to nurture future-oriented growth.
Finance business partners aren’t a new concept. In fact, a study published by Deloitte illustrated that 83% of organisations want to increase time spent on valuable financial business partners in the next three years as they genuinely see the potential. Moreover, 34% of businesses are already ready to invest their time in developing a fruitful relationship with finance partners. The strategy designed by finance partnering isn’t just something to present to the board, but it should be a leading facet of an organisation.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at the glass of water), there isn’t a stock standard cookie-cutter finance individual you can partner up with. Different business needs require a different set of competencies. With that said, there are a few uniform qualities to look out for: improving the quality of available data, identifying drivers of value and KPIs, improving the functionality and efficiency of your business, (re)defining roles within your organisation to adopt a growth mindset and identifying gaps and structuring training programs to cover the deficit.
Hiring business finance partners need not be defended as useful because it is. Why? Because it provides value by making sense of the current state of operations and functions. Finance partners are no longer passive in their roles – they are active in their pursuit of success that touches every single team of the business. No two businesses will have identical benefits from financial partners. If you wish to know more about how your company can benefit from a finance business partner, get in touch with the experts at Beyond Financials. The team provides expert advice and on-hands work with end-to-end financial solutions, CFO services or contract CFO, business intelligence and analysis expertise and how you can turn your numbers into a profit-centre.