What is a finance business partner and what do they do?

Finance business partners are accountants who work alongside different business departments, providing financial information, tools, analysis and insight to executives, challenging their thinking, helping them make more informed decisions and driving business strategy. Their role is to provide 'real time' support and analysis, to be a trusted adviser and to add value that will assist in decision making.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Providing analysis and delivering insight that links financial reports to business strategies
  • Improving the impact, and understanding, of financial reporting on business performance
  • Providing effective commercial procedures, or initiating change, to ensure key operational, commercial and financial targets are delivered
  • Building partnerships and strong relationships with all senior managers and their teams and providing financial support to commercial decision making
  • Delivering analysis and insight on business opportunities; providing options and scenarios for business decisions
  • Conducting market research studies and analysis to assess current market trends
  • Presenting financial performance, full year forecasts and budget variances including understanding financial opportunities and risk
  • Challenging current ways of working, driving efficiencies and cost savings wherever possible
  • Assisting with year-end audit
  • Dealing with and working through issues of conflict and operational challenges with project teams and other stakeholders
  • Understanding the cost drivers of the business and providing insight to the non-finance members

Why are they important?

Finance business partners are an important bridge between the Finance function, management and other areas of the business. They deliver financial information, tools, analysis and insight to executives across the business that equips them with the information they need to make informed decisions that align with company objectives. The Finance Business Partner role is important in providing the insight that allows managers to challenge, coach and motivate their teams.

Skills needed for this role

Finance business partners must have excellent interpersonal skills, with the ability to build strong relationships and communicate effectively in order to explain financial concepts to non-finance people. They should be able to influence key decision makers and think strategically. Excellent commercial acumen, along with good project management and analytical skills are also required for this role.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Financial Management

Advanced Performance Management

Career opportunities presented by this role

Finance business partners have excellent career opportunities. Their experience working so closely with the business provides and excellent grounding in the broader operational and commercial drivers of the organisation that could lead to divisional finance director roles and ultimately financial director (FD) and chief financial officer (CFO) positions.

Competencies

High level competencies required include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.

  • Audit and assurance

    A. Advises on and communicates effectively the role and scope of audit and assurance engagements to relevant stakeholders.

    B. Applies regulatory, legal, professional and ethical standards relating to audit and assurance engagements.

    C. Plans and prepares for audit and assurance engagements.

    D. Performs effective audit, and assurance engagements.

    E. Reviews and reports on the findings of audit and assurance engagements.

    F. Guiding efficient and effective operations.

  • Corporate and business reporting

    A. Prepares financial statements, corporate financial and integrated reports for external stakeholders using appropriate technology.

    B. Leads effective decision making through analysing, evaluating and communicating performance and position of entities.

    C. Prepares financial statements for groups of entities using appropriate technologies.

    D. Monitors, critically evaluates, and advises on the relevant accounting standards, regulations, conceptual and financial reporting frameworks.

  • Data, digital and technology

    A. Identifies strategic options to add value, using data and technology.

    B. Analyses and evaluates data using appropriate technologies and tools.

    C. Applies technologies to visualise data clearly and effectively.

    D. Applies scepticism and ethical judgement to the use of data and data technology.

  • Financial management

    A. Links developments in global trade, markets, business practices and the economic environment to required improvements in the financial and risk management of an organisation.

    B. Advises on business asset valuations, capital projects and investments using appropriate analytical qualitative and quantitative techniques.

    C. Identifies, evaluates and advises on alternative sources of business finance and different ways of raising finance.

    D. Communicates and advises on the impact on financial decision making on current developments in regulation, governance and ethics.

    E. Assesses and advises on appropriate strategies to manage business and organisational performance regarding business and finance risk and effectively communicates the impact.

     

  • Governance, risk and control

    A. Evaluates organisational structures and governance to protect the long-term interests of stakeholders.

    B. Recommends appropriate strategies to ensure adherence to governance structures and application of best practice internal controls.

    C. Identifies and manages risk appropriately.

    D. Uses risk management for the best interests of an organisation and its stakeholders.

    E. Monitors and applies relevant legislation, policies and procedures.
     

  • Leadership and management

    A. Applies appropriate leadership strategies to effectively deliver business objectives.

    B. Leads, motivates and manages people to optimise performance and effectiveness.

    C. Collaborates, supports and works to achieve the objectives of the organisation, applying appropriate digital technologies.

    D. Acts proactively and thinks strategically, in anticipating organisational needs, recognising the wider business environment and dynamics.

     

     

  • Management accounting

    A. Applies development and performance management, in the wider business and technological environment, within the context of strategic planning and implementation.

    B. Directs organisational performance through the selection and measurement of financial and non-financial performance indicators.

    C. Collaborates on the key tactical and organisational areas of budgeting and control, capital investments, people and resource management.

    D. Consults on the design and use of current and emerging technology and information systems to improve strategic decision-making and organisational performance.

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.
     

  • Strategy and innovation

    A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.

    B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop sustainable plans and objectives.

    C. Evaluates, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.

    D. Adopts and applies innovative methods to implement strategy and manages change.