Building the finance function in growing businesses

This discussion paper presents views and recommendations on how to build the finance function to support growth in SMEs. It takes a holistic view of the finance function, discussing a variety of issues from the roles it can play in a growing business to what investment is required.


The global drive for economic recovery has placed a huge focus on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as a vehicle for job creation, economic stability and wealth creation. Governments are also capitalising on the opportunities presented by SMEs for market innovation and its value in building social capital. 

In order for SMEs to achieve their maximum impact, efforts to promote them cannot be limited to encouraging more of them to form; they have to be accompanied by efforts to understand and support the sustainability and growth of such businesses. Growth has many challenges; ACCA’s 2014 report The Growth Challenge, which examines the critical success factors for the policy and infrastructure supporting SMEs, highlights the reality that a large proportion of young SMEs fail to grow because of a lack of appropriate and timely support. 

ACCA’s research has also demonstrated the importance of an evolving finance function and its symbiotic relationship with the growth of a business, from its informal setting-up of processes and systems onwards. 

This discussion paper contributes further to this discourse, adding practical insights from members of the ACCA Global Forum for SMEs: experts who have experienced and supported growth first-hand.