If you follow my writing you know I’m all in on finance business partnering and all the wonderful things I think they can do for your company, however, it’s more than “just” the job role “Finance Business Partner”. It is also a mindset that can be adopted by anyone in the finance function. Hence, while an analyst maybe doesn’t spend a lot of time partnering with stakeholders like a finance business partner (s)he can still make a much greater impact if (s)he thinks and acts like one. Certain traits and behaviors that a finance business partner must have to be successful might not be needed on paper by most other job roles in the finance function yet if they do exhibit these, business performance will be improved.
So, tell me about this finance business partner mindset
Previously we’ve discussed a lot about skills, competencies, and job description but we haven’t really talked about the mindset and the behaviors that come with it which is crucial for a finance business partner. Now is the time to dig deeper into this aspect as described above it can benefit everyone in the finance function to adopt it. So, let’s look at exactly what this mindset is all about and what makes finance business partners stand out.
- They believe in a bigger purpose:Many, if not most, people go to work every day simply to get a paycheck. While that is obviously an important outcome for working, a finance business partner has a bigger purpose i.e. something that drives her to do more than “just” doing what’s in the job description. (S)he cares deeply about the job and the company (s)he works for and is constantly curious about how to improve things. (S)he would ask questions beyond her function and challenge people to perform even better so that the company overall can perform even better.
- They act as if the company’s money is their own money:Let’s think about this one in simple terms. You’re about to book two flight tickets. One for a business trip and another for your private holiday. For your private holiday, you book the cheapest one despite a long layover and longer flight times. For your business trip, you book a direct flight despite being able to make significant savings by doing a 1-stop trip lasting only a few hours longer. Not that it’s necessarily wrong to book the direct flight but you wouldn’t have done it if it was your own money. A finance business partner will always make the right trade-off i.e. perhaps (s)he won’t torture herself with the very cheapest and longest flight as (s)he also needs to be well-rested and ready to work upon arrival yet (s)he will not go for the direct and shortest flight at a significant extra cost either.
- They see it – they own it:How often haven’t you experienced that something goes wrong and when you try to confront people about it, they will point to other factors like systems, processes and whatever else isn’t their fault. On top of that, they will redirect you to someone else to fix it. Not a finance business partner. (S)he never defers to someone else when a problem is identified together with the business. The business partner will take ownership of fixing it so that her stakeholders don’t need to contact five other people to get it done.
- They think “customer first”:Did you ever design a solution because it was one that best fit you despite not being the best solution for your stakeholder/customer? Or you were simply caught up in a “Finance way” of doing things which your customers outside Finance don’t understand? A finance business partner always thinks about and discuss with the customer what (s)he wants before designing a solution. Of course, the business partner will guide the customer along the way so the best overall solution is chosen but it’s always with the customer’s best interest at heart.
It doesn’t require specific experience or competencies
Looking at the list above it’s clear that anyone can adopt these behaviors as none of them require neither experience nor specific competencies. Have a purpose, treat company money like your own, don’t defer to someone else to fix your stakeholders problems, and always have the stakeholder’s/customer’s best interest at heart. In fact, these traits are so common that everyone in the company can adopt them. Certain job roles can be performed without some or even all of them but as a finance business partner, you need to live and breathe this mindset to be successful.
Anything you would add or deduct from the list? Have you experienced how exhibiting these behaviors despite not being in your job description helped you make a positive difference for your company?