The fundamental role of the Finance Business Partner (FBP) in the NHS

The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Future-Focused Finance (FFF) have released a new authoritative and concise analysis on the finance business partner role (FBP) in the NHS.

This analysis reveals the integral role an FBP can play in a business, as a core part of a management decision team, using financial information to influence and shape outcomes and results.

The new research will help existing and aspiring FBPs understand their roles, the broad skillset and values they need to succeed, and the part they play in ensuring the success of organisations in the NHS.

Briefing author, HFMA policy and research manager Andrew Monahan said: ‘FBPs can play a crucial role in decision-making processes with clinicians and managers in the health sector – ensuring it delivers safe, effective and financially sustainable clinical services. The role offers the opportunity to see the beating heart of the NHS, the flow of patients and above all, the chance of broader, more diverse experiences outside of finance.’

Clive Webb, ACCA’s head of business management said: ‘Being an FBP is not for everyone, it demands much more than your average finance position. How you manage relationships rather than the figures is the increasingly determining factor. Our research confirms the growing importance of partnering with other organisations and people in finance and increasing demand to offer a closer working relationship with operational elements of businesses finance functions.’

The key messages from the research include:

Skills: FBP require strong communication, and extensive interpersonal skills – as well as sound financial abilities – in order to build the relationships necessary to understand the business and drive forward improvements.  

Challenges: The main challenges FBPs faced were contending with the breadth of services and specialist language, and a potential for barriers to be put up in instances where early financial involvement was new to an organisation’s way of working.

Benefits to organisations: FBPs can provide expert financial advice for better decision-making, bring a financial presence at an earlier stage of developmental discussions, and improve overall relationships and understanding across services.

Maximising success: For FBPs to have the greatest chance of success, there needs to be clear lines of accountability, organisational awareness of the role’s expectations and distinctive definitions of the role within the finance team – for example reducing overbearing responsibilities for management accounting to allow focus on strategic financial objectives.

Accessibility: The visibility of FBPs within organisations is more important than any physical or structural location, and their professionalism enables them to remain objective despite sitting within a service team.

Clinical / corporate: It is strongly recommended that any NHS organisations consider implementing FBPs into clinical and corporate services to begin benefiting from the financial support and other advantages they bring.

The full briefing is online here: https://www.hfma.org.uk/publications/details/exploring-the-role-of-the-nhs-finance-business-partner

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About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development.

Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com

About Future-Focused Finance

Future-Focused Finance is about improving NHS finance for everyone; recognising the need for strong financial skills and understanding across all professional groups to deliver the good patient care and value for taxpayers. In 2018 the Future Leadership Council refreshed their strategic aim and objectives. This means with the support of the Finance Development

Foundation and Finance Staff Development we’re working to develop a diverse, appropriately skilled, adaptable and resilient finance function and workforce to ensure value for money and quality services for patients.

About the HFMA

The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) is the professional body for finance staff working in healthcare.

For 70 years it has provided independent support and guidance to its members and the wider healthcare community.

It is a charitable organisation that promotes the highest professional standards and innovation in financial management and governance across the UK health economy through its local and national networks. The association analyses and responds to national policy and aims to exert influence in shaping the healthcare agenda. It also works with other organisations with shared aims in order to promote financial management and governance approaches that really are ‘fit for purpose’ and effective.

The HFMA is the biggest provider of healthcare finance and business education and training in the UK. It offers a range of qualifications in healthcare business and finance at undergraduate and postgraduate level and can provide a route to an MBA in healthcare finance. The association is also an accredited provider of continuing professional development, delivered through a range of events, e-learning and training. In 2019 the HFMA was approved as a main training provider on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and will be offering and developing a range of apprenticeships aimed at healthcare staff from 2020.

 

"Our research confirms the growing importance of partnering with other organisations and people in finance and increasing demand to offer a closer working relationship with operational elements of businesses finance functions."

Clive Webb, head of business management - ACCA

"FBPs can play a crucial role in decision-making processes with clinicians and managers in the health sector – ensuring it delivers safe, effective and financially sustainable clinical services. The role offers the opportunity to see the beating heart of the NHS, the flow of patients and above all, the chance of broader, more diverse experiences outside of finance."

Andrew Monaghan, policy and research manager - HFMA