Stepping up from Accountant to Finance Business Partner…Some food for thought!!

The current economic climate has bought about paramount change to corporations all over the UK. Restructures, offshoring, outsourcing and reorganisation is no longer a novelty but many would say the norm in uncertain times. Business Leaders have needed to adapt quickly in efforts to keep efficiencies optimised in business and maintain their competitive edge. Accountants have played a key role in driving cost efficiencies to keep balance sheets healthy by business partnering across the Organisation accounting for every pound spent to get control of capital expenditures.

Focusing on capital expenditures has helped Organisations manage their costs efficiently and enabled Stakeholders to make better informed decisions when winning business opportunities distinguishing good business opportunities from bad ones. Every business looking to offer a product or service will do so with returns on investment in mind. A Finance Business Partner can deliver this business insight by performing the following duties:

 

Bridging relations between Operations, Sales & Marketing, HR and Finance to understand key objectives of every function and harmonizing spend parameters to deliver the common goal. Creating a presence across the business, being pro-active prior to any “go live” projects and understanding the set objectives of every division is key to meeting set business objectives.
Detailed forecasting, budgeting, variance analysis, and project phased reporting of actuals all helps to align resources and capital expenditure to ensure the business can still produce its output in a cost-effective manner so that work in progress can deliver a profit. The ability to gather financial data from various  sources and filter through data disparity to get an accurate picture is paramount.
Behavioural qualities play a key role in raising a financial awareness across the business and influencing mindsets so that the common goal within the business is achieved and ultimately keeps Stakeholders at ease, Heads of Department motivated and create “out of the box” strategies and maintain that competitive edge in the face of fierce competition. Soft skills are key.
Technical capabilities and a meticulous mind sits at the very core when analysing capital expenditure and overhead spend reviewing budgets vs actuals and FLASH reporting to give Stakeholders and budget holders the bigger picture also advising financial control through commentaries and quantitative remedies. Financial scenario modelling, advanced Excel including macros and an inquisitive nature will form a key ingredient here.

Although this may sound simple enough, the reality can be very different and will be weighed down by emotional and physical influences such as training, people skills, pressurised timeframes and deadlines. Understanding these challenges, winning trust from colleagues and peers combined with the technical capabilities will naturally form a Finance Business Partner. Anyone embracing these qualities and mastering these challenges will open gateways for those aspiring to become a Finance Director.