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Top 7 CFO strategies to improve business partnering

The finance function is evolving to meet growing demands from the business and is increasingly expected to take on a value-added, ‘business partnering’ role, to help other parts of the business improve their analysis and decision-making.

According to a recent report from Deloitte – 83% of organisations want to increase the time spent on Finance Business Partnering over the next three years.

The digitalisation of the sector has moved finance professionals away from retrospective reporting at month or quarter-end, to providing real-time or prospective updates that help drive sales, profit and growth targets.

As a result, business departments are eager for the support of finance professionals who understand the objectives of the business and can analyse real-time statistics to support their decision-making.

In fact, our recent poll found that 20% of business leaders stated that it is critical that their entire finance team has a commercial understanding of the business – not just senior leaders.

Informing Business Leaders

Finance business partnering begins after standard reports and analysis has been produced. At this point the focus then shifts from accounting to management. This is when the disciplines of management accounting are applied in the business and insights developed to inform decisions and improve performance – whereby risk assessment & analysis (36%), research & reporting (24%), and communication skills (23%) are the most sought-after skills to enable true business partnering.

Providing effective finance business partnering is still proving to be a challenge for many businesses – where 48% of business leaders state that the key skill is in having leadership & problem-solving skills.

To tackle this gap, CFO’s and hiring managers need to look beyond the core skills expected of a finance professional and consider general experience at a decision-making level and ability to communicate complex information succinctly.

Top 7 strategies to improve finance business partnering*:

  1. Improving the quality and availability of data and business information
  2. Identifying value drivers & KPI’s to better focus activity
  3. Improving the efficiency & functionality of performance management systems
  4. Clearly defining roles, in line with the organisational structure
  5. Implementing shared services / outsourcing transaction processing
  6. Identifying skills gaps & implement training programmes
  7. Recruiting additional business partners / upskilling

 

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