The New World FP&A Business Partners: Who are they?
On 16th May 2017, 35 senior finance practitioners joined the fourth meeting of the Geneva FP&A Board. The representatives from such leading companies as Duracell, DXC, General Mills, Honeywell, Medtronic, Newell Brands, Nissan, PepsiCo, Procter and Gamble, The Economist, Tesco PLC, etc., gathered to discuss the latest trends in FP&A Business Partnering
FP&A Business Partnering And Why It Is Important
The Business partnering is an important role for any FP&A department and is a hot subject at present with many leading and local organisations implementing finance business partnering programs around the globe
First, the Board discussed the concept of FP&A Business Partnering as presented in the figure below.
The Board agreed that a typical partnering function has two high-level objectives:
- providing commercial finance support to the activities of the business
- challenging the status quo of the business with an emphasis on shaping the future strategic direction.
Furthermore, the Board looked closely into the key attributes of an FP&A Business Partner and concluded that they must have a good combination of analytical, technological and financial skills. However, it should be topped up with such important soft skills as good communication and stakeholder management skills, strong leadership, good data interpretation and ability to see both the big picture and the details. At the same time, creativity was defined as the paramount skill because personality types thrive on new ideas and creative thinking, rather than just number crunching.
The Most Critical Attributes Of An FP&A Business Partner: What Are They?
Looking at the synergistic FP&A teams, the Board actively discussed three critical FP&A team roles developed by Mark Gandy, G3CFO.
According to it, the FP&A Business Partner is close to the Storyteller role as he delivers analytical and financial messages to the decision-making and operational teams. At the same time, he understands the role of the Architect and the Analyst and can play them along with his defined Business Partnering role. And this is the main difference between the FP&A Business Partner and the General Finance Business Partner. In other words, the role of the FP&A Business Partner is more strategic and influential in its nature. This is the reason why the Board suggested to add the fourth role of the Influencer to Mark Gandy’s model.
The Mini Case Studies From the Field
One of the fundamental principles of the FP&A Board work is looking into practical case studies. We were happy to have three mini case studies from the field presented by the senior FP&A practitioners. David Pribyl, former FP&A Director at Tesco shared his experience of Tesco FP&A Business Partnering. Pierre Mounier, Finance Director at The Economist, presented the Business Partnering Model adopted at The Economist in order to cope with the changing environment and meet the challenges of the modern fast-moving world. Mohac Altuntug, Head of Finance Business Partnering at The Global Fund, shared his valuable experience and insights on FP&A Business Partnering in the non-profit organisation.
The Maturity Model Of FP&A Business Partnering
Afterwards, the Board discussed the FP&A Business Partnering Maturity Model. It was agreed that at the leading stage the Business Partner has strong, holistic knowledge. He becomes Key Influencer and Trusted Advisor. Also, he should be involved in the decision-making process and acts as a sounding board. From the point of view of the soft skills, he is confident in challenging the business, has strong ability to persuade, acts as an effective communicator and established storyteller. And last but not the least, from the analytics perspective, he has a solid grasp of modern analytical concepts and processes such as Rolling Forecasts and Driver-Based Planning as well as Advanced BI analytics.
Group Work: Key Stages In Transforming FP&A Business Partnering
The Board members value the opportunity to network with their peers from the leading organisations. This time they enjoyed the suggested group work devoted to key stages in transforming FP&A business partnering. Everybody agreed that everything starts from the business culture and strong support of the top management. It is a good idea to have a consistent approach and to develop and implement effective FP&A business partnering model step by step. The Board suggested having interviews with all the key stakeholders and deciding who the main players in the FP&A cycle are. It was noted by several members that this is not easy to keep this gentle balance. On the one side, it is important to challenge the key stakeholders, to make sure that no political games are tolerated and the realistic analytical assumptions are provided during the planning and forecasting cycle. On the other side, it is important to educate and service business people, meet their expectations.
Furthermore, the Board members discussed the crucial role of technology in the FP&A business planning process. It was agreed that modern FP&A system is the enabler of the effective and efficient FP&A Business Partnering as it supports its participative planning process, allows setting key analytical drivers to all the planning stakeholders and helps easily consolidate different views and scenarios for the effective decision-making process.
The main conclusions of the third Geneva FP&A Board can be described as on the figure below.
About FP&A Board
The London FP&A Board was created on 19th September 2013 to guide the development and promotion of best practices in financial planning and analysis (FP&A). By the end of 2017, individual board chapters will have been established in 14 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the USA and Australia in order to identify and support new global trends, skillsets, and thought leadership in FP&A.
We are very grateful to our sponsors and partners Page Executive, the global provider of innovative executive search solutions, CCH Tagetik, the leading FP&A Technology company, and Regus, the global provider of modern, flexible workspace, for supporting the event.
The next Geneva FP&A Board will gather on 3 October 2017 to discuss the best practices in Rolling Forecast. Stay in touch with our global FP&A community through the FP&A Club LinkedIn Group and the FP&A Trends resource. Please do not hesitate to join and to contribute to the discussions, posts, and commentaries.