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How to be a Finance Business Partner, even when you’re not!

9 top tips any Finance professional can use to increase their impact in business

By Andy Burrows

In this article I’m going to give you nine tips from my experience that will help you to increase your business reputation and impact, even if you’re not a Finance Business Partner.

When I’m coaching and training, especially speaking to our My Finance Coach members, I’ll often come across frustrations such as:

“I’m stuck! I can’t get into a business partnering role!”

“My role is so dry. How can I be Finance Business Partner?”

And my advice is essentially to put the thoughts of a Finance Business Partner role, and Finance business partnering, on one side. I encourage people to think more in terms of how they can help the business, than whether they have a particular role or title or not.

Sure, it helps a lot to have a Finance Business Partner role on your way up the ladder, if you want to be a CFO.

But the most important thing is...

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6 slogans for small business Finance professionals

By Andy Burrows

You can be a Finance business partner in a small company

As I’ve spoken with Finance professionals around the world about their careers, there’s a particular pain that is felt by those who work in small businesses.

Sometimes they talk about the fact that they want to be Finance business partners, but they’re stuck in the mundane tasks of Finance.

Sometimes they talk about the struggle they have trying to get involved with the business, because the business doesn’t see the need to include them.

There’s a perception in some places that to get real Finance business partnering experience you have to go and work in a bigger company.

But that cannot be right!

In the USA, 45% of GDP comes from small businesses. Nearly 50% of employees work for small businesses. And I bet the situation is similar around the world, possibly even more so.

Imagine the impact we could have on the economy if small business Finance professionals could help their...

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How to talk about failure without using the F word

By Andy Burrows

Do you feel like a failure sometimes?

Do you get embarrassed or demotivated because of things that haven’t gone right for you?

Do you look at other people and get jealous because they’re successful and you’re not?

Well, if so, I hope that my personal reflections will help you.

My biggest failure

When Talita Ferreira was interviewing me for her Leadership Hypothesis video series, she tripped me up unintentionally by asking me a question. She asked me, “could you say there’s a failure in your career somewhere that someone could learn from?”

For some reason, the question I heard (and which sticks in my mind) was: What is your biggest failure?

My heart started pounding at that point, and I had to quickly compose myself. I was being recorded! The show must go on!

I didn’t duck the question. But I don’t think my answer was entirely coherent either! And you can check out the interview and 26 others like it in Talita’s ...

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Business Performance Management for Finance Professionals

By Andy Burrows

You’re a Finance professional who wants to do their best for the business you work for.

You may want to rise to be a CFO one day.

If so, you must grasp business performance management.

Business performance management is a key element of the business acumen you need to be a business-focused Finance professional. And it’s something that is specifically the responsibility of the CFO and Finance.

If you want to be more than “just an accountant”; if you want to drive business performance, rather than just spectate or commentate on it, learn business performance management!

And that’s what I aim to introduce you to in this article.

Why is business performance management so important?

Business performance management is an essential discipline, because as I regularly say, “managing business performance better leads to better business performance... otherwise why bother managing it?”

Management is “maintaining control...

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Business Acumen for Finance Professionals

By Andy Burrows

What is business acumen?

Business acumen is an extremely important topic for Finance professionals.

Everyone agrees that you need business acumen to be a good CFO. It’s also an essential ingredient for a Finance Business Partner. But, on top of that, we know that Finance as a whole is becoming more business-focused, so business acumen is becoming more fundamental to Finance professional development.

And there are a couple of reasons, at least, for the rising importance of business acumen for Finance professionals.

First, the business landscape is increasingly complex, changing rapidly, and becoming more global, because of the unstoppable drive of new digital and communications technology.

That means that the analytical part of decision-making now needs more than just a commercial CFO. The CFO needs a team they can delegate to, to get involved in helping business decisions.

It has also put non-Finance managers in the business under pressure. They are also being...

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Business-focused Finance is NOT the same as Finance Business Partnering

By Andy Burrows

Those who have followed me for a while may have noticed that I’ve started using the term business-focused Finance. And you may be wondering whether it’s actually just the same as Finance business partnering. Or is business-focused Finance something different?

And to answer that question right up front I’d say that a large element of Business-Focused Finance is Finance business partnering, but I’m thinking of business-focused Finance as something broader.

What I've come to understand is that Finance Business Partner is a specific role often seen within Finance, designed to give various non-Finance functions access to the full power of the Finance function in managing business performance within their areas.

Finance business partnering is a phrase that’s either been used to describe simply what Finance Business Partners do, or to describe the kind of mindset needed within Finance.

I think that’s confusing.

It tends to lead to the...

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The four dimensions of awesomeness in the Finance function

By Andy Burrows

Do you want to be awesome in your work in Finance?

Perhaps you roll your eyes cynically? Perhaps ‘awesome’ seems to be a bit over-the-top?

I mean, ok, so you’d rather be ‘a little bit good’, ‘in the upper quartile’ or ‘showing signs of improvement’? Yawn...

Well, whatever you think of this article, I hope you’ll come away picturing what a Finance team would be like to work in if it was really [insert your own favoured superlative].

And when you’re thinking about Finance transformation, that picture could form the basis for the vision. That’s what you want to transform into. When you close your eyes and visualise an awesome Finance team, you don’t normally visualise a brand new shiny SAP instance or an offshore service centre. So, what do you visualise?

A new paradigm for working in Finance

Anyway, this article is really all about defining the new paradigm for working in Finance.

A paradigm...

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How to build influence and be more visible as a Finance professional

By Andy Burrows

Influence is something that Finance people in business really want, it seems to me.

I hear it a lot:

“How can I get more influence in the business?”

“How can I increase my visibility in the business?”

“How can I get included in strategic discussions, instead of being kept out?”

And that’s thinking in the right kind of way, fundamentally. We don’t want to just provide information, or even merely insight based on information. We don’t want to turn our work over to the non-Finance areas of the business in a “take-it-or-leave-it” kind of way.

We want our work to make a difference. And it can only make a difference if people listen to us, understand us, take note and act on what we tell them.

Our information should deliver insight. But for our insight to have impact we need to have influence!

So, this article gives you five ways to do that. It’s not the whole story, but it will give you a lot to think...

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Four Lessons for Finance from an Entrepreneur

By Andy Burrows

I started Supercharged Finance in September 2016. It’s my business.

But I’m also a seasoned Finance professional, with 25 years’ experience, including a period as a Finance Director.

I worked in Finance teams, big and small, for most of my career, and then I decided to set up a business of my own. So, I guess that makes me an entrepreneur!

And I’ve felt for a while that if you want to be a good CFO or a good Finance business partner, then starting your own business teaches you important lessons.

The question as a Finance professional, as a CFO or Finance business partner is, “if it was you who owned or invested in this business, how would you run it?”

And what I’ve found is that when it’s your own business – when it’s your baby – as someone trained and experienced in Finance, you definitely use that experience, but there are some things that you start to see more clearly and do differently. Here are...

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Confidence, Communication and Influencing Skills for Finance Business Partnering

By Andy Burrows

I want to give some helpful thoughts today about developing the behavioural skills needed for Finance business partnering.

I’ve written in the past about how essential it is for Finance business partners, CFOs, and indeed Finance professionals in general, to develop behavioural skills. And I know that other Finance writers are talking about this too.

And people are hearing the message, and I get asked about it. One question I received during a Finance careers event went something like this:

“I’ve worked in technical accounting and as a financial accountant, but my ambition is to do the best I can in my career. So, I really want to move to a Finance Business Partner role, as I feel there is more career growth potential in that area. My challenge is that my behavioural skills need a serious boost. What can I do to help improve my communication skills and my ability to influence or persuade my stakeholders, or even to simply be convincing enough at...

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