Once the realm of large organisations, finance business partners are now becoming essential for businesses of all sizes. Companies have come to understand that being responsive is essential in today’s markets. It’s necessary to continuously re-evaluate short and long-term goals and strategies. For this reason, finance and accounting professionals take a business advisory role in the organisation to help other parts of the organisation improve their analysis and decision-making.
What is a Finance Business Partner?
A finance business partner is usually an accountant or a finance expert who works with managers to track a company’s financial performance and move the business forward. They use forecasting techniques and analysis to determine strategies and guide decision-making within a business.
These individuals work closely with a particular business unit to create a real, active partnership with management and operations. Their role is to offer real-time support and analysis, become a trusted advisor, and add value that helps with decision-making.
Crucial to their success, finance business partners need specific skills. In the following sections, you’ll learn what skills a successful finance business partner requires.
What Value Does a Finance Business Partner Provider?
Finance is more than checking data and using formulas; it’s also understanding and checking the hypotheses behind management’s views, ensuring that goals are aligned with the company strategy.
Today’s markets are complex and volatile. Companies need help to develop a better understanding of the drivers of business performance and the effect new initiatives have on the company. Finance business partnering can help with these issues.
Finance business partner relationships operate in these ways:
- The finance business partner may work with business unit heads to clarify how specific KPIs (key performance indicators) are calculated or how exchange rates are managed.
- The finance business partner may work with HR to calculate compensation packages across the company, using comparable data while correcting for inflation. They may also review forecasts to make sure these are realistic and that no big risk factors have been overlooked.
- The finance business partner may explain (to the sales team) the financial impact of certain guarantees included in a sales promotion.
The finance business partner is responsible for interpreting raw data and clearly communicating this information to colleagues who are not in the finance function. They must take bits of data, order them, assess their value, and then present their findings to the relevant stakeholders in a meaningful way.
In other words, the finance business partner becomes a “translator” between finance and operations. They must explain the data and present a compelling argument. They must present their findings effectively and persuasively.
2. Ability to Influence
As a finance business partner, it’s necessary to have the ability to talk finance with non-finance staff. That may sound easy; however, that’s not usually the case. It’s necessary to use analysis to deliver insights to stakeholders across the business in order to assist with decision-making.
The individual reviews key data and translates what the data means and how it will impact the wider business.
3. Presentation Skills
Today’s finance business partner also needs excellent presentation skills. All data must be presented in such a way that non-finance teams are able to understand what the data is saying.
4. Stakeholder Management
Finance business partners must also have the ability to speak up and challenge stakeholders when necessary. It may be necessary to challenge their beliefs or recommendations. Here, again, effective communication skills are necessary. The message must be clear for all who are not in finance. It’s also essential to be able to build relationships and trust with these individuals.
5. Commercial Mind-Set
Finance business partners must also be commercially minded. When providing valuable insights from a finance perspective, these insights may not be valuable to HR, sales, operations, or the customer.
6. Analytical Skills
Analytical skills are also essential to the finance business partner. This doesn’t only refer to traditional analytical skills but also the ability to analyse trends and identify deviations.
A successful finance business partner must be purpose-driven and want to add value to the company. Adding value doesn’t always mean saving money. It may also mean making essential decisions about processes, efficiency improvements, and more.
8. Have Organisational Understanding
As a finance business partner, it’s also essential to have an understanding of industry developments and the competition. It’s also crucial to get to know unit teams and learn about their projects.
9. Build Relationships
It’s also necessary to have the ability to build relationships and influence decisions that are directly related to the partner’s ability to build relationships. This involves getting acquainted with people and learning what’s important to them.
This works to develop insights into what they view as important, builds trust, and leads to greater influence.
10. Negotiation Skills
Through the relationships built by the finance business partner, they develop a good idea of what works and what doesn’t work. They go into negotiations trying to bring everyone to the best possible outcome.
How to Create an Effective Finance Business Partner Relationship?
Finance business partners are there to bring about change and help the organisation gain better focus. In order for these relationships to work, the finance business partner must have a deep understanding of the company’s business model and how it creates value. The business partner must take advantage of the data and insights they find, then effectively communicate their findings to the stakeholders.
Finance business partners need to ask the right questions to find those hidden opportunities that can benefit their companies. They also need to have the confidence to challenge the company and its leaders. The ability to speak up when necessary and with confidence is the only way they can trigger meaningful change.
Summing It Up
As you can see, there’s more to being a successful finance business partner than being a traditional accountant. It takes confidence, analytical & strategic thinking, and the ability to express their findings in such a way that non-finance people can understand the impact of the data on their companies.
Businesses searching for the right finance business partner should make sure the individual they hire has the necessary skills to help them scale their business.