Technology, automation and the demands facing business are all impacting on the role of accountants in business.
Increasingly management accountants in industry, commerce and the public sector are being asked towards finance business partnering.
In essence to spending less time recording and reporting and more time creating, adding and protecting value.
Some accountants are really embracing the opportunity. For others it's a struggle.
If you are a finance business partner or aspiring finance business partner, chances are you have a real desire to make a bigger impact.
So how do you do this?
Get clear where you are heading personally and as a function
Finance business partners need to be strategic. They need to look ahead, anticipate and adapt.
Thinking about where you are heading personally and as a finance function as a whole is a fantastic starting point in my view.
Engage the business and get their buy-in and support
You might see finance business partnering as the best thing since sliced bread.
The reality is that it will never become truly effective unless you have secured the buy-in and support of the business.
Like any sort of change their first question will be what's in it for the business. If you can't give a compelling answer the chances of making it happen are slim.
Work on your mindset
One of the things I've noticed from my time in accounting and working with accountants is that they can sometimes:
- Lack confidence
- Under value what they offer
- Feel that they have to be an expert before they can contribute.
In many cases it's not the lack of ability that holds them back. It's their thinking.
Build your business acumen and people skills
You might find that you are criticised for lacking business acumen or not having good people skills.
In terms of business acumen the easiest action to take is to actually spend more time out with people in the business. Shadowing others is highly valuable but under used in my experience.
Shadowing gives you insight into the world of those that you support. In addition, you will probably notice things that make no sense, ask questions and actually help improve things.
In terms of people skills building and maintaining relationships is vital to your success. In my experience few spend enough time on this. They know people based on the job they do but they don't have any depth of understanding about them.
Focus on contribution rather than just activities
Finance professionals and finance business partners specifically are ultimately judged not on activities but the contribution you make.
Be clear about the contribution you aim to make. Track your contributions. Ask your internal clients how you can make a bigger contribution.
In reality you have the potential to really make an impact as a finance business partner. So ask yourself what changes you need to make to have a bigger impact.