What businesses need from finance is rapidly changing.

Recent economic crises have left many organisations feeling vulnerable and acutely aware of their exposure to commercial and financial risks. 

As a result, the role that finance occupies within organisations has had to respond. Many back office functions have become increasingly automated and this has allowed a different role to emerge. 

Finance business partner jobs.

If conventional finance roles focused on historical numbers, finance business partner jobs call for someone who is always looking forwards. They require someone who uses financial analysis to facilitate change by working closely with, or providing a service to, a number of different departments.

Finance business partners provide targeted strategic insights across every department of a business. They base these insights on analysis of operational performance, industry dynamics, macro-economic trends and the competitor landscape.

What does a finance business partner do?

The responsibilities of a finance business partner include:

  • Improving the impact, and understanding, of financial reporting on business performance
  • Providing analysis and delivering insight that links financial reports to business strategies
  • Providing effective commercial procedures, or initiating change, to ensure key operational, commercial and financial targets are delivered
  • Building partnerships and maintaining strong relationships with all senior managers and their teams

What qualifications and skills does a finance business partner need?

The role of a finance business partner requires a different set of skills to the traditional finance back office function. 

The role will require you to be a qualified accountant, either ACA, ACCA or CIMA, but it will also need you to demonstrate specific qualities.

This is very much a strategic role. Information and reporting are just the tip of the iceberg. What really matters is your ability to see the value in the information you provide and to inspire others to make use of it. 

It calls for someone who is used to working in a rapidly changing environment and who is comfortable proposing, justifying, initiating and implementing change.

To achieve this you will need a strong set of ‘soft’ skills, including:  

  • Presentation
  • Relationship building
  • Negotiation
  • Facilitation and conflict resolution

A finance business partner needs to be an excellent project manager as well as a creative thinker. This is a role that calls for both a starter and a coordinator.

You must be able to apply your analytical skills beyond the traditional functions of finance and to bring them to bear on a broad range of commercial issues. 

These issues must then be effectively brought to life for senior management teams. This is why the ability to listen, interpret, influence, negotiate, inspire and challenge are all vital to the role.

Will you make an effective finance business partner?

High-performing finance business partners must hold a rare blend of skills. They must be able to always see the big picture whilst helping implement procedural change.

The technical skills required for the role are fairly commonplace within finance teams. It is the interpersonal qualities and dynamism required in finance business partner jobs that will set you apart.