The four seasons of accounting & finance

Written by on December 1, 2017

The role of the accounting & finance team is evolving so that it “ . . . can make an important contribution to improving decision-making and ensuring the sustainable success of the business,” according to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

And that evolution is a result of a more connected, complex & globally competitive world, one that’s drowning in data & where speed matters, all combining towards a more volatile & uncertain environment. However some finance teams are moving faster than others, which means that they’ve generally passed through different phases, or as I like to call them, seasons since evolution is never linear, it’s more cyclical in nature and by definition is always about moving forward.

Autumn/Fall

This season of autumn (and fall) represents traditional financial management and the necessary function of ‘gatekeeper’ and ‘steward’ preserving company assets by getting the books right and minimising risks through budgeting and accurate reporting. It’s also the time of year when a lot of organisations on a calendar fiscal year begin their the annual budgetary & planning cycles.

Winter

Given that winter in the northern hemisphere can be harsh, cold, its’ important to wrap up and keep warm. However, accounting & finance teams still have duties to perform so we need to be a good ‘operator’, ensuring that we’re not only doing things well, but also the right things, in other words, we’re being efficient and effective. This would be the time to perform compliance checks, audits, and team & staff appraisals on what’s worked well and could be better, as well as to consider how digitisation technologies like robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and blockchain could help make these operator duties more efficient & effective in the future.

Spring

Spring is the season of opportunity, where the accounting & finance team can play a role as ‘strategist’, helping to shape the company’s overall strategy, advising on the direction, and modelling scenarios for the coming years with insights to get ahead of problems before they happen, in effect, it’s a proactive role since it is concerned with building a solid foundation for the company’s future financial success by planting the seeds of growth for the year ahead.

Summer

If the prior season was about planting the seeds for growth, Summer is about nurturing those seeds, in effect the accounting & finance team becomes a ‘catalyst’, where we come out from behind our desks to partner with the business, develop trusted relationships, credibility and influence, to instill a financial approach and mindset throughout the company to help other parts of the business perform better.

Finance Masters

Some of you may have also recognised that the terms I’ve used in italics are from Deloitte’s‘Finance Masters’ report went on to achieve “ . . . significantly higher growth, profitability, and shareholder value than other companies in our benchmark database.”

The leading finance teams have already gone through these seasons a number of times already, and are now applying accounting & finance to their organisations in much more comprehensive, consistent and analytical ways. As a result they’re providing rewarding careers for the staff, who are making important contributions to improving decision-making and ensuring the sustainable success of their organisations.

So what seasons have you been through? What are your recommendations to help other teams on their journey? Let’s all contribute to make this another resource for other aspiring finance business partners so please like or add your comments below.

If you feel you wish to know more about the topic of finance business partnering check out the following book at UK link and US link


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