The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Finance Business Partner!

 In Accountancy, Blog, Featured, Uncategorised

One day a Management Accountant went into a meeting with the FD.  They were bored of the same old accruals and prepayments and month end reporting.  They were sick to the teeth of balance sheet recs.  So they grumbled to the FD and made noises about leaving.

But the FD was shrewd – “Don’t be so hasty David – we have a new role just for you – you will be Finance Business Partner”

And so it was born. Business cards were printed, email signatures updated, org charts rejigged — to the envy of all around Dave was an FBP!

5 or six years ago the old “commercial accountant” title was given a marketing rebrand – and there was a wave of FBP roles in the market.

Management Accountants across the land met recruiters and en masse they said, “the bit of the role I enjoy is adding value” and the Recruiters rejoiced – “we have a lot of FBP roles and their focus is added value”!

It’s a match made in accounting heaven!

And so it was.

But after a couple of years of unsettlingly high net migration from management accounting to FBP there were gaps in the engine room!

Clients realised that they needed safe hands to get the pack out on time, sort month end and help get the stat accounts dusted and the auditors sent home cheerfully.

So a wave of Financial Accountant and Management Accountant roles came tumbling through the door.

Some cheeky recruiters even badged them up as FBP to get them sold to the market! – the sneaky little sneaks.

Right now  – well we are in a limbo – there seems to be a steady stream of both FBP and core accounting / reporting roles.

But the challenge is that FBP is seen as the sexier lingerie by many and management accounting is a boring pair of M&S briefs…

So what do you do if you need a solid Financial or Management Accountant?

  • Well start by being candid – there’s zero value in pitching roles that are 90% routine reporting as business partnering.   Be clear about where someone can make a difference and where they can add value but also be honest.  Otherwise you can fix a short term problem but create a revolving door.
  • Tweak the job spec.  A hybrid role where maybe 60% is core accounting but 40% is out in the business driving change and managing projects focused on added value is attractive and ‘sellable’.  Two people in the team of this profile versus one core accountant and one FBP build in great contingency if someone leaves or is poorly.
  • Get a great graduate / trainee model in place  – bring in graduates or AAT studiers to plug the gap of the day to day – they get to build a firm foundation and the FBP can be freed up to do the more exciting stuff while the trainees find their feet.
  • Offer flexibility  -some people are more than happy doing the doing and enjoy the nuts and bolts of pulling the pack together every period.  But they tend to want sensible work life balance – hybrid working and plenty of holidays.
  • Bring in a big hitter – sometimes people make their way to the dizzy heights of FD.  But perhaps as they approach retirement they look to keep busy but maybe back down the food chain.  They can add massive value as management accountant and have bags of experience.  Don’t be put off by their CV or the fact they want to climb down from the big seat.
  • Get the money and the recruitment process on point – obvs!

Recruiting centre mids and wingers in the finance team can be tricky – whether it’s a core role in central finance or a finance partnering remit out in the business.

But getting a clear plan in place and partnering experienced recruiters will save you value time, money, energy and headspace.

Thanks as always for reading! 

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