“The Finance Professional as a Business Partner and Navigator!”

The Finance Professional as a Business Partner and Navigator

Like all support functions in today’s world, the finance function is under increasing pressure to demonstrate value added services to the business. However many finance functions remain bogged down in detail and complexity; often dealing with accounting and budgeting as opposed to real business intelligence and simply reporting too many metrics and measures. Many finance and line department relationships are built around constant inspection and controlling regimes with low levels of trust and mutual respect. The cumulative effect is that many organisations are drowning in the “noise” of their own data as finance professionals become ever focused on ineffective budgeting and planning processes that promote “game-playing” behaviours that do little to propel businesses forward in terms of future strategy, sales, service and organisation effectiveness.

In large organisations there are far too many managers who still don’t understand the financial basics – their organisation’s level of debt, debtor days, cost of sales, cash flow or even their ROCE! What does this all say about how value-added the finance function is? Is it not a key role of today’s finance function to provide simple powerful business intelligence that helps move a business forward and to educate all staff on the fundamentals of finance? Instead you have many functions that obsess around accounting techniques, who micro-manage and swamp their businesses with controls and a myriad of measurement systems that slowly disconnect from the reality of fast moving markets and customers. The cumulative effect is that the finance function Brand is all too often described as remote, distant or even in some cases arrogant.

In contrast at PPI we believe that today’s finance professional is expected to be an expert adviser on risk management, business information systems, strategy and change. As the majority of enlightened finance professionals already know the demand is to move beyond simple financial reporting and to provide more value added business analysis and intelligence in terms of trends and patterns. The busy operational manager is looking for more financial support in driving the business forward and helping them to champion change and delivering strategic objectives.

Today’s high performance finance professional is required to be an advocate of continuous change and improvement by waging a constant battle against complexity, waste and bureaucracy. Business leaders want their finance professionals to help navigate the business by being “masters of managing by fact” and focusing managers at all levels on the achievement of key business goals. In effect they have to become high performance business partners with a wide range of strategic influencing skills to add to their technical analyst and risk management competences. Such an approach requires the finance professional to promote and develop high levels of trust with busy and harassed operational managers and business leaders.

PPI’s Business Partner Programme equips finance professionals with the vital behavioural components necessary to step up to a high valued added business partner role. Our faculty and programme methodology challenges professionals to fundamentally review their current operating style and influencing strategies.

The programme provides a unique forum for any finance team professional to learn how to build strong trust based relationships and to link their business challenges to their key offerings and services. Our programme is not about enhancing technical finance skills but rather the ability to effectively build and manage powerful internal client relationships. Our programme is built on the assumption that people already have the necessary financial expertise to succeed. The critical focus of the programme is on helping people learn the art of effective influence and client management so that they can provide a high value added service. The ability to guide and influence managers and leaders so as to achieve what we call the “trusted business partner” Brand! That way business leaders readily seek out the advice and counsel of their financial colleagues.

On the PPI programme participants will also have the opportunity to share their own experiences and challenges. The programme has a strong networking element and will help participants to develop a common client management methodology and vocabulary across a network of like minded professionals.

Our highly practical case study driven programme aims to provide a strong business context – looking at classic business challenges involving strategy, organisation capability, finance and marketing – and link them in a compelling way to the finance department’s offerings and services. Participants leave with a “toolkit” of practical models and frameworks that they can use to position business and finance initiatives and drive change. Furthermore our case study approaches provides an opportunity to practice the use of these tools in a range of realistic scenarios.

The programme will prompt considerable discussions around the current challenges facing finance professionals and the approaches and initiatives that are already under way in their business. Critically the programme will enable individuals to reflect on their key stakeholder relationships and their own “individual brands” as a high performance finance professional.

At PPI we believe our Business Partner Programme enables finance professionals to reflect on these questions and generate real insights into the behaviours required to move to a high value-added Business Partner.


About the Author

Mark Thomas: Leading International Expert on Business Partnering

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas is an international business consultant, author and speaker specialising in business planning, managing change, human resource management and executive development. Prior to working with PPI he worked for several years with Price Waterhouse in London where he advised on the business and organisational change issues arising out of strategic reviews in both private and public sector organisations.