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Australian organisations should turn to finance business partnering to increase productivity


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23 May 2013:  Expectations of finance departments are changing for Australian organisations with business wanting more finance support for business priorities, according to the results of Deloitte’s inaugural Changing the focus - Finance business partnering in Australia survey.  

Donal Graham, Leader of Deloitte’s Finance Transformation Consulting practice said: “Whilst economic pressures have driven leaner and more responsive back office functions, there is also increased demand for finance departments to drive performance.  Australian CFOs need to focus their attention on finance business partnering in addition to efficiency.”

Finance business partnering, finance’s ability to support the strategic and tactical priorities of the business, is increasingly viewed as the most effective way for finance teams to add value. This is achieved by delivering insights which improve performance and increase productivity.

“Finance business partnering is being driven to meet the commercial demands of new business models, digital disruption and the explosion in the quality and variety of available data. Successful finance business partners are seen as leaders that can influence the critical decisions a business makes, influencing beyond the numbers.” said Mr Graham.

Key findings revealed in Deloitte’s Finance business partnering in Australia survey include:

  • 39% of organisations invest more than 30% of their finance time delivering business partnering. This suggests that finance functions still spend much of their time on core finance function activities including report production, transactional processing, compliance and control.
  • 94% of respondents are looking to increase their finance business partnering activities over three years.
  • Finance business partnering requires a different set of skills and behaviours from finance professionals; and developing and retaining a talent pool is critical for high performance. Despite this, 39% of Australian respondents felt they lacked necessary capabilities within their finance function to successfully deliver business partnering.
  • Credible and accessible data, from both the internal and external environment, is essential to enable finance business partners to make more effective and informed decisions. However, 58% of respondents said a lack of information was a major barrier in effective partnering.
  • 50% of organisations have achieved a poor or only fair level of business buy-in for finance business partnering which means organisations often don’t understand the value that Finance could add. Underpinning this, the role of finance business partner is not clearly understood.
  • 47% of respondents considered that the finance business partner role is not clearly defined and communicated.  CFOs need to clearly define where and how finance can add value to the organisation and allocate resources accordingly.
    “Our survey has confirmed that the main benefits of better business partnering are to make better decisions, enable strategic initiatives and improve financial performance. It is critical that finance departments understand the business decisions where they can make the most impact in order to deliver more bang for their buck,” said Mr Graham.

By any criteria, information at hand for any finance department has increased dramatically in the past twenty years. However, many Australian organisations are still developing approaches to utilise the vast amounts of data at their disposal and evolve from a hindsight to a foresight information provider.

The survey results also highlighted that many Australian companies have inadequate finance competency and talent development models which do not meet the needs of modern finance departments. Finance development programs need to develop broader skills such as strategic thinking, commercial acumen, and negotiating and influencing capabilities.

“Australian organisations also need to do more to explore and develop innovative career pathways which will encourage finance talent to consider pursuing opportunities which are outside of finance departments. Overall our research has shown that making the transition from back to front office is not easy and in many cases there is a great deal of room for improvement in Australia,” added Mr Graham.

NB: See our media releases and research at www.deloitte.com.au

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Contacts

Name:
Donal Graham
Company:
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Partner, Consulting
Phone:
Tel: +61 2 9322 7279
Email
dgraham@deloitte.com.au
Name:
Jane Kneebone
Company:
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Phone:
Tel: +61 3 9671 7389, Mobile: +61 4 1614 8845
Email
jakneebone@deloitte.com.au

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