Are You Ready Finance Business Partnering 2.0?
In practically all mid-size or large companies these days you will find finance business partners or business finance functions with the purpose of bringing Finance closer to the business. However, despite all these functions and teams have been created with good intentions many of them are not yet yielding the value that was expected. The main reason for this is that there is no clear definition of what activities a business partner should engage in. Therefore, the position becomes a free for all to put whatever job content in it a company or manager wants. So in many of these positions, you will find tasks like reporting, budgeting or even accounting related tasks. None of those should be at the core of what a finance business partner does, though.
We, therefore, need Business Partnering Transformation and while it might be something different depending on what function you work in I will share my views on what a Finance Business Partner should be doing:
- All activities of the business partner must pass the value added test i.e. are they related to adding value to the bottom line?
- The business partner should be connecting strategy with execution – meaning involvement with or driving major strategic or tactical initiatives such as cost savings or revenue optimization projects
- The business partner should be the focal point between the support function and the business critical functions – meaning that the business critical functions should have one point of contact into Finance
- The business partner will also be the one to present the numbers to the business in order to ensure that there is one ultimate owner of the story which Finance is sharing with the business
Above provides a high-level framework for what a finance business partner should do and what the company should expect from the function. Before moving on to making a very clear job description for the finance business partner 2.0, let’s first take a look at what skills and attributes are needed to be an effective finance business partner.
- Ability to work with strategic concepts that can drive a company forward or even change the direction setting of the company
- Clearly measure and articulate the value they bring to the business
- Excellent communicator
- Be a facilitator of finance in the business to make sure all levels understand how they create value
- Savvy with technology and use intelligent tools to analyze financial and operational information
- Recognized top finance talent as this is the finance position with the highest potential impact
Having now defined the requirements to finance business partnering and the skills needed to be a