Key Skills of a Finance Business Partner
Updated: Apr 28
Finance business partners are accounting professionals who work closely with a particular business unit creating a real and active partnership with both operations and management.
Key to the finance business partner role is to provide 'real time' support and analysis, to be a trusted adviser and to add value that will assist in decision making.
Critical to their success are finance business partner skills, including an ability to communicate their message, to understand their audience and deliver the information in a clear and user friendly manner.
It is this mix of analytical, commercial and communication skills which are at the heart of successful finance business partnering.
Ability to influence
To become a Finance Business Partner, you will need to have the ability to talk finance with non-finance staff. Sounds simple right? Well, it’s not always the case. A Finance Business Partner will use the analysis to deliver insights to stakeholders across the business, to enable key decision making. It’s essentially looking at key numbers and data and painting a picture of what it all means and the impact it can have on the wider business.
Presentation skills are essential for the modern day FBP. I’m not just talking about how good you are with PowerPoint either. When analysing sets of data, it needs to be presented in a more readable format so non-finance teams can understand what the numbers are saying. Remember, not everyone’s an Excel guru like you!
Stakeholder management is key when becoming an FBP. You will need to speak up, challenge stakeholders and sometimes push back. You’ll need to have the ability to challenge beliefs or recommendations of stakeholders within the business. You need to communicate effectively, and this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be salesy or have the “gift of the gab”. It means being able to create a clear message to non-finance staff and build relationships and trust with them.
Finance Business Partners need to be commercially minded – just because you’ve identified a cost reduction, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will benefit the wider business. Remember, if you’re providing valuable insights from a finance perspective, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be valuable to operations, HR, sales, or most importantly the customer.
If you’re a qualified accountant or studying towards a professional qualification, it stands a chance you’ve already built good analytical skills. I’m not talking about your traditional analytical skills though, you need to be able to analyse trends and identify anomalies.
You can’t just want to be a Business Partner if you’re in it for the money. The role must be purpose driven and you should really want to add value to the business. Adding value doesn’t necessarily mean saving money, it can be anything from process or efficiency improvement, service level enhancement or identifying a new revenue stream.
Not your typical accountant
You need to be able to operate strategically, be commercially aware, understand how to align people strategies with business strategies and be fully aware of the impact of changing employment legislation.
The aforementioned finance business partner responsibilities will help you chose the right professional accountant who can fuel your business growth, giving you (business owners) time to focus on what you are best at – growing your business. Not sure where to start or how to choose the best finance business partner? Let’s get into a call to understand this better!