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Finance business partnering in complex and challenging times…


by Nikki Kinsey | 11 May 2016

Finance business partnering is not a new concept, however it remains a topic of great interest to those committed to building effective finance teams, and so as the role of finance within the public sector advances, it is certainly making for a hot topic with our clients and candidates alike.

As the public sector moves away from a business model where for the most part they provide public services to end users, i.e. you and I, we are now seeing a much more diverse economy including public, private and even third sector suppliers, who have had to evolve, in order to successfully compete in an increasingly resource constrained, complex and challenging marketplace.

The involvement of finance professionals in driving performance, strategy development and decision making has always been part and parcel of the accountant’s remit, but in today’s market this is not enough! We are therefore seeing, now more than ever, the need to consider how the finance function can make a greater contribution to organisational transformation, and consequently supporting better performance.

At Sellick Partnership within the public sector finance division, we are seeing double the amount of clients now asking for proven business partnering skills when looking for their next recruit.

Business partnering involves developing financial understanding, helping to inform decision making, influencing strategy and business outcomes, working with managers to reach goals, offering intelligent and useful analysis, coming up with options to solve problems and not to forget the exploitation of opportunities.

To fulfil the role of a modern finance business partner, you must be both technically proficient, as well possessing the ability to manage and drive change.

So what does it take to be a ‘true’ finance business partner?

Business partnering is all about ‘understanding the business’, which is gained by observing, having on-going conversations and researching. It sounds easy doesn’t it? However, truly understanding a business' needs takes time - and in an evolving and fast paced market it can be difficult to achieve this. Good business partners are proactive and have a sense of urgency.

It requires innovation. This involves having the ability and more importantly desire to explore new ways to make taxpayers’ money stretch further, often collaborating with other bodies.
Let’s not forget… commercial mindset, integrity, interpersonal skills, gravitas and professional judgement, all of which will help a finance business partner manage the unavoidable tensions caused by the pull from numerous organisational stakeholders with their own agendas and interests.

Does this sound like you? Have I missed anything? What other attributes do the best finance business partners have? 
Finally, if you are looking for a new challenge and have the necessary finance business partnering skills we are looking for, please get in touch now on 01332 542 580 alternatively, view our employers section of the website.