Whilst there are very few books out there on Finance Business Partnering there are so many others available that detail the broader business skills necessary to be a successful finance business partner. So where does an aspiring Finance Business Partner begin their search for knowledge? Last year I recommended 5 books and given the success of our podcast, The Strength in the Numbers Show, here are 5 audiobooks I consider as the best bang for your buck to start with. Happy Listening.
- The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier (Author), Daniel Maté (Narrator) 3hrs 10mins (US/CA link, UK&I link). In our roles as Finance Business Partners we’re often seen as Trusted Advisors and although we have good intentions of helping our businesses be more successful, it’s easy sometimes to become “advice monsters,” where we’re constantly telling the business what to do instead of empowering them by asking the right questions. You know, really helping our partners learn how to think problems through and find their own solutions so that they become less dependent on their our advice meaning we have more time to focus more strategically on scaling our efforts across on the most valuable areas. This book has a great source of real life examples of where the 7 questions approach can work as well as a supporting website full of resources.
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab (Author), Nicholas Guy Smith (Narrator) 5hrs 32mins (US/CA link, UK&I link). In accounting & finance we’re expected to keep up to date on emerging technologies that are happening today or that are on the horizon and their potential impacts in forming and shaping our industries, businesses and profession. This book provides a good synthesis to cover the core ground on the main drivers, megatrends and different technologies coming together as well as their rate of diffusion. I let you decide whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about the future that is already unfolding.
- Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford (Author), Jonathan Keeble (Narrator) 9hrs 57mins (US/CA link; UK&I link). Naturally the quest for business success involves constant experimentation and the prospects for success are improved substantially within a workplace culture that encourages, supports, recognizes, and rewards prudent experimentation. As finance business partners we can help establish a constructive environment for financial success and adapt it so that it sustains into the future. This book is littered with real & memorable failure and successes from the Soviet Union’s pathological inability to adapt to practical methods for challenging the status quo to a shoe repair franchise making experiments survivable.
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – 30th Anniversary Edition by Eliyahu M. Goldratt (Author), Jeff Cox (Author) 11hrs 44mins (US/CA link, UK&I link). One of my favourite stories of the year because it was recommended to me by an attendee at one of my training workshops, it’s read my various actors playing the parts, and it’s so relatable to my own personal experiences in what really drives business value, being effective (doing the right things) as opposed to always efficient (doing things right), to make a much bigger impact for the business but also for peoples’ careers. One way for us finance business partners to add value to the business is to help optimise existing processes to achieve the overall goal which is to take only those decisions that are productive. This is not a textbook instead it’s more a novel about Alex Rogo who is a factory manager at UniCo and has to revitalise his plant’s fortunes or else face its closure in 60 days and we learn practical key lessons around focussing on the right metrics, being productive, managing change, and overcoming bottlenecks to improve throughput and ultimately profitability.
- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio (Author, Narrator), Jeremy Bobb (Narrator) 16hrs 3mins (US/CA link, UK&I link).This is the longest audiobook but offers the best by the way of finance and career mentorship. Given that as finance business partners our overall aim is to contribute insights for better decision-making to drive shareholder value then who better to advise on such matters than someone with such a track record over the last 40 years of building the world’s largest hedge fund and has been called both “the Steve Jobs of investing” and “the philosopher king of the financial universe” (CIO magazine). Ray Dalio also narrates the majority of this book as he shares principles he’s developed, refined and implemented such as his “an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency”. A must listen-to for anyone finance business partner looking to practically systemise how to add value in their lives, businesses and careers.
So what audiobook would you recommend has REALLY helped improve your business partnering skills? Is there one you would gift to a younger version of yourself? Let’s all contribute to make this a go-to resource for aspiring finance business partners so please like or add your comments below.