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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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Is Finance Business Partnering really for everyone in Finance?

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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Help! My Finance career has stalled!

By Andy Burrows

Careers these days are bloomin’ difficult to put together and keep on track. No need to talk about the reasons for that. The point is that it takes a lot of intentionality. It takes thought, guts, perseverance, and confidence.

I’m talking about Finance and Accountancy career progression, because that’s what I have experience of. But, gone are the days (did they ever really exist?) when you could just keep doing a solid job and some day you would get called into the higher level job.

And so, when I received the following question in a Finance careers event, it was not a surprise:

“I have been in the same organisation at the same level for 10 years. My main concern is I feel like I am stuck and unable to get the breakthrough to the next level, in spite of my vast experience across industries in various Finance roles.”

This article is aimed at helping you if you can relate to that situation. You feel like your career has stalled....

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Are Finance Business Partners only for big companies?

By Andy Burrows

There is a common frustration among Finance Business Partners.

Many of them almost feel as if they have been mis-sold the role.

They were promised that they’d be close to the business, as writers like me keep saying we must be in Finance. They were promised involvement in important discussions and strategic decisions. They were promised freedom from mundane number crunching.

And yet one of the biggest complaints from Finance Business Partners is that they still seem to spend too much time compiling reports, checking numbers, drilling down, building forecasts, and writing commentaries. And they hardly have any time left to spend with the non-finance colleagues they’re supposed to be partnering with.

And, to be clear, I’m talking about the way that Finance Business Partners feel about their jobs, not the way that others may criticise them.

So, for instance, this is a question that was sent to me during a recent Finance careers event:

“I am...

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Finance isn't just a cost centre... but how do you convince management?

By Andy Burrows

One thing I’ve realised recently is that, in the minds of Finance professionals, the questions over the place and value of the Finance function are closely linked with questions about their careers.

I don’t know why it suddenly dawned on me. It’s kind of obvious when I think about it!

Perhaps it’s just that when I asked a little while ago what questions people had about Finance careers, I didn’t expect to get questions like this one:

“How can you convince top management that the Finance department is not just a cost centre, but way more?”

There were other questions similar to that, but I’ll write about those perhaps in other articles.

Being merely a cost is a career dead-end

Clearly, if we are just seen as costs in the business, then that’s a bit of a dead-end in terms of careers.

The thing any business wants to do with costs is to reduce them. So, if Finance is just a cost, then the only thing you’d want to...

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