Are you ready to take on a new challenge and become a strategic business partner in your organization?

If so, you're in luck, because Christopher Spencer, Finance Business Partner at Staffordshire University, has generously shared his top four tips for finance professionals who want to make the leap.

But before Christopher reveals his tips, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves why finance business partnering is so important.

The importance of finance business partnering

Here are four reasons why becoming a partner to the business is so important for finance professionals:

1. It aligns financial goals with the strategic goals of an organization, helping to ensure that the business is in the best possible position to conquer both.

2. It involves working closely with other departments to understand their needs, identify opportunities for improvement, and provide financial insights and support to help the business make informed decisions.

3. It helps drive the success of the business and ensures that it’s well-positioned for long-term growth.

4. It can also help to improve communication and collaboration within an organization since it promotes sharing of information between departments and improves understanding of the organization’s financial position.

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Finance teams are more than just number crunchers. To become a finance business partner, you must create value by providing insights that help business leaders make data-driven decisions.

Now, let’s get into the tips!

Whether you're looking to switch careers or take your current role to the next level, these tips are practical, actionable, and guaranteed to help you stand out in your organization.

So, let's get started and discover how you can become a finance business partner extraordinaire! 👇

How to be a good finance business partner

1. Make sure you understand the organization you work for

The difference between a finance business partner and a ‘number cruncher’ is that FBPs are there to ‘partner’ with other individuals or departments in the organization, giving guidance support, and strategic advice.

To do this well, you need to understand the environment you're in, and the context of the advice you are giving. It’s well worth reading up on what your organization does and spending some time on the ‘shop floor’ to get a real feel for it.

I work for a university. A university has very different challenges to (for example) a manufacturing organization. I didn’t go to university myself (having qualified on the job with CIMA), so didn’t have the organizational knowledge I needed.

I got around this by networking, subscribing to sector newsletters,
and volunteering to do some other work in the organization – such as exam invigilation and helping at open days. Just putting in a little time on this made a huge difference to the value I can add.

2. Gain a professional qualification (such as CIMA, ACA, or ACCA)

It’s hard work but gaining a professional qualification gives you a very tangible ‘leg up’ that no one can take away from you. It gives you credibility in a very ‘black and white’ way, as well as a solid technical grounding.

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3. Be confident

When you are giving advice to senior managers in your organization, it can be easy to suffer from imposter syndrome but remember you are there for your finance expertise. The odds are that in any meeting outside of the finance department, you will know significantly more about finance than anyone else in the room.

You wouldn’t imagine you know more about HR than an HR professional, even if you are more senior than them – this is the same situation, so speak with confidence, and don’t be afraid to use your authority.

4. Speak plainly in non-technical language

As an FBP, you'll often be supporting people who are not finance trained. Remember, they will not usually be familiar with words like ‘accrual’ or ‘pre-payment’, so try to put things into layman’s terms and help them to understand.

You have to be patient, but this is another way to add real value. You are there to support as much as you are there to challenge.

There you have it, folks - Christopher Spencer's top four tips for becoming a strategic finance business partner.

We hope you found these tips helpful and insightful, and that they've given you the tools you need to take your finance career to the next level.

Remember, becoming a finance business partner is all about building relationships, communicating effectively, and being a trusted advisor to other departments. By following Christopher's advice, you'll be well on your way to success in this exciting and rewarding role.

Grab your copy of The Finance Business Partnering Playbook

If you're ready to take your finance business partnering skills even further, be sure to check out other resources like our Finance Business Partnering playbook.

It's filled with valuable insights, tips, and strategies from finance experts like Christopher Spencer and will help you become the ultimate finance business partner.

So go ahead, download the playbook, and get ready to become the finance superstar you were meant to be!