In a recent article from cfo.com the author discusses the proper role of the finance / accounting team – an issue that is finally getting the attention that it deserves. The author tells of a personal experience that is far too common:
“I once joined a company where the finance department was viewed with some disdain. Rather than being seen as helpful, it was regarded more as an obstruction because, many felt, it didn’t understand the business. Finance was seen as a necessary evil that was all about historical reporting, playing the role of corporate cops focused on policy and procedure, and stressing form over substance.”
This lack of respect was symptomatic of the fact that the finance staff was trying to control the business rather than serve it. By putting disproportionate emphasis on accounting issues, they were limiting the organization’s business potential and putting its very existence at risk. I was certain we could properly account for all the business activities, right down to shutting off the last light. But we needed to focus more on future market potential while still meeting all fiduciary responsibilities.”
Unfortunately we see this same situation over and over again but it can be changed and with the right leadership, the team can catch the vision, produce results and gain respect by delivering its highest and best value to the business. Finance is responsible for timely, accurate and actionable information and analysis to help everyone in the company make better decisions – this is much than mere financial statements at the end of the month. Team members must learn how to serve the organization by integrating themselves into and becoming strategic partners with operating units while maintaining their important fiduciary/oversight role.
Respect is earned, over time, by delivering consistent, valuable results. Finance is in a position to know more about a business than almost any other department and can create essential value if the team members understand the vision, assume their proper roles and use their knowledge to serve the operating units and guide their company to success.
If your finance staff does not see this vision or is not delivering this kind of value, let’s talk about how to make that happen!