22nd November 2023

How to Be an Awesome Finance Business Partner 

In the next 10 years, the finance industry will ask for a different set of skills from us as finance professionals. I mean, it already has, hasn’t it?

Data analytics and finance transformation are super important, but there’s a quiet (and powerful!) skill that will be more important than ever: finance business partnering.

In this article, I help you think about three key areas that will help you become a successful finance business partner.

1. Building Relationships: The Trust Factor

Think about this scenario… you’re in the market for a new car. You walk into a dealership, but for whatever reason you don’t trust the salesperson. Even after a conversation, that trust just isn’t there. 

Would you want to spend your hard-earned money with that person? The answer is probably “no.”

Finance business partnering is all about sales – with the product being your ideas. 

A good finance business partner convinces the business to act on their ideas, unlike a traditional accountant.

To get people to buy into your ideas, trust is paramount. If you build great relationships with leaders and key decision-makers, they’re more likely to listen and trust your advice.

2. Turning Data into Insights: The ‘So What’ Factor

Finance professionals know how to handle data, but often businesses don’t know what to do with it. 

They say, “Thanks for the data, but what’s next?” This is where a great finance business partner shines. They transform data into insights.

Insights go beyond raw data. They answer the “so what” question. They provide the missing link between data and action. 

When you share actionable business insights, you help leaders make better decisions and drive real change in the organisation.

3. Bringing Numbers to Life: The Inspiration Factor

In finance, we love numbers – we can spend all day happily swimming around in them! But we forget that other folks are less interested in numbers than we are…

Great finance business partners take the numbers and make them engaging, memorable, and even emotional for decision-makers

The trick to making your numbers stick is to make people feel something about them. People remember things that stir emotions!

Think about how you may be able to do this. You could talk about the potential of a new opportunity or press on the urgency of a problem. 

This emotional connection to what you’re saying is what will motivate people to act.

Act on the Future of Finance Business Partnering

As data science and finance transformation free up time, finance business partnering is a skill that more companies want. 

Building relationships, turning data into insights, and bringing numbers to life are the three core skills that set the most effective finance business partners apart. 

It’s great to be a policy expert or an Excel whizz, but this is more about influencing and impacting wider business decisions.

Now, it’s your turn to step into the future of finance business partnering!

Commit to honing these skills, and you’ll find yourself at the forefront of guiding your organisation to a better future.

Looking to develop your finance business partnering skills?

If you’re interested in developing these skills for yourself or want to support your team’s development, get in touch to arrange a call with me. 

I run a finance business partnering bootcamp with thefinancebusinesspartner.com that has incredible feedback. It’s the single program I wish all my finance teams had been through over the years.

I’ve seen the results over and over again with my clients. These skills really can elevate your finance career and drive tangible results in your business!

Finance business partnering FAQs 

1. What is a finance business partner, and why is it important in the finance industry?

A finance business partner is a finance professional who collaborates closely with various business units to provide financial insights and support decision-making. In the evolving finance industry, their role is pivotal for driving informed business decisions.

2. How can I build stronger relationships as a finance business partner?

Building trust is essential. Actively engage with key stakeholders, listen to their concerns, and understand their needs. This is the best way to build strong relationships with the people you need to influence!

3. How do I turn data into actionable insights in finance business partnering?

Turning data into insights involves more than just sharing the raw data. Think about how to answer the “so what” question, and share information in a way that helps leaders understand the issue at hand and make informed decisions. 

4. What techniques can I use to make financial data more engaging and memorable for stakeholders?

Telling stories and presenting data in a simple way can make financial information much more interesting. You could use diagrams or tell stories to bring the numbers to life. Help people remember your insights by emphasising the business impact of the data. 

5. Are there specific courses or training programs to help me enhance my finance business partnering skills?

Yes, there are courses and training programs out there to help you build the skills and knowledge to excel in a finance business partner role. 

6. Can you recommend some highly-rated finance business partnering courses or certifications?

There are lots of awesome courses and certifications that can boost your finance business partnering skills. Do your research and select a program that aligns with your goals and budget.

I do have a recommendation though! The finance business partnering bootcamp I run with thefinancebusinesspartner.com has incredible feedback. It’s the single program I wish all my finance teams had been through over the years.

7. How long does it typically take to complete a finance business partnering course or certification program?

The length of these programs can vary. Some are short-term courses that can be completed in a few weeks, while others may take several months. It depends on the specific program you choose.

8. What’s the best way to find finance business partner roles?

To start, rather than looking for specific roles, skim 15-20 FBP roles on LinkedIn. Get really clear on what hiring managers are asking for. How do your current skills align to that? Then start to look for those roles either internally, or get your CV/LinkedIn matching those sort after skills – and follow my steps to find your dream job here.

Oliver Deacon

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