Enhancing Business Value: The Role of Finance Business Partners

In the dynamic landscape of corporate finance, the effectiveness of a finance team is a critical factor in the success of any organisation. Identifying whether your finance team is truly adding value or merely engaged in routine tasks can be pivotal for strategic decision-making. In this article, we explore three clear indicators that suggest your Finance Business Partner (FBP) team may not be maximising its potential and three positive signs that indicate they are making meaningful contributions.

Signs Your FBP Team Might Not Be Adding Value:

1. Desk-Centric Activities:

If your finance team is predominantly tethered to their desks, engrossed in extensive number-crunching in Excel, and constantly reconciling past forecasts to current ones, it might be an indication that they are more focused on routine tasks than contributing strategically.

2. Formal Meeting Fatigue:

Excessive time spent in formal meetings, where team members are seated around tables scrutinising slides, can signal a lack of proactive engagement. If these meetings feel more like endurance sessions than productive discussions, it might be time for a reassessment.

3. Overwhelming Emphasis on Reporting:

If the majority of your team’s time is dedicated to reporting, budgeting, or forecasting, with the remaining time spent on reconciling Excel spreadsheets, it could signify a disproportionate emphasis on administrative tasks rather than strategic collaboration.

Signs Your FBP Team Is Adding Value:

1. Trusted Sounding Board:

When other departments, such as sales and marketing, actively seek out the finance team as a trusted sounding board for their ideas, it indicates a collaborative and supportive relationship. This demonstrates that finance is viewed as a valuable partner in decision-making processes.

2. Informal Networking:

A finance team that invests time in informal coffees and lunches, where real decisions are often made, is likely to be more integrated into the fabric of the organisation. Formal meetings may ratify decisions, but the groundwork often happens during these casual interactions.

3. Social Integration:

When members of the finance team are invited to social gatherings, such as nights out with sales or marketing, it showcases a level of integration and camaraderie that extends beyond professional obligations. This integration is a positive sign that finance is seen as an integral part of the broader team.

Shifting Perspectives: The Customer-Service Mindset

While accountants may be associated with desk-bound activities, true finance leaders embrace a customer-service mindset. They prioritise understanding the needs of sales, marketing, and operations to provide support that enables these departments to thrive. The fundamental purpose of finance is not self-serving; it exists to facilitate sales, enhance market share for marketing, and ensure operational success.

To evolve into a more effective FBP, it is crucial to shift the focus from what finance needs to a deeper understanding of the requirements of sales, marketing, and operations. By adopting this perspective, finance professionals can add exponential value to the organisation.

In conclusion, recognising the signs of value addition or potential shortcomings within a finance team is a crucial aspect of strategic management. A proactive and engaged finance team can contribute significantly to the success of an organisation by fostering collaboration, providing valuable insights, and aligning financial strategies with the broader business objectives.

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