Traditionally a finance business partner has been a role only in the public sector, working for government organizations, but for your midsize to large company, whether privately held or publicly traded, you might want to consider adding this role to your roster. Effective finance business partners can not only help your whole company get on the same page, but they can also spearhead future strategy.
What Is a Finance Business Partner?
The position has several roles but the primary skills required are effective communication, unwavering attention to detail and integrity. Your finance business partner (FBP) will communicate to the rest of the company what the financials mean in plain speak. That means they also need to interpret the information and be willing to advise company leadership. Leadership must know that they can trust their FBP to be unbiased and honest even if the news they impart is negative or not what people want to hear.
In some respects, an FBP is like an auditor who sees beyond the numbers. He will look for discrepancies in the financials, and while that may be caused by a mistake, or through fraud, if the numbers are unexpected an FBP will track down the cause of the change and be able to make recommendations about how to rectify the difference, or why the difference is actually a good thing.
How Can an FBP Help the Finance Department?
The Chief Financial Officer of a company is expected to be the steward, operator, strategist and catalyst of a company. Using an FBP can help focus the finance department on becoming stronger strategists and catalysts instead of just crunching the numbers that have already happened. The FBP can get the whole company aligned to the financial strategy and play cheerleader to the initiatives the business creates to implement the strategy. In a positive feedback loop, the FBP can then provide company-wide insight into how the initiatives are paying off through detailed financial information and analysis.
Whether you are part of the finance department and feel that the information you are providing never really goes anywhere but an end-of-fiscal-year report, or you are in business operations or customer service and wondering why your maintenance contract terms aren’t changing even though you know that customer pain points with the contracts are causing you to lose business, a finance business partner can provide that bridge that will connect money with what happens day-to-day within your company.