What Makes Someone A Great Finance Business Partner?

The role of the accountant has changed a lot in the almost 41 years since I had my first job in accounting.

Back then there wasn’t the same variety of roles.

And Finance Business Partnering wasn’t on the radar.

Now, it’s becoming more and more common.

So what makes someone a great finance business partner?

Here’s my thoughts.

Technically competent

My choice of the word competent might surprise you.

Reason I use it is that in my experience, those who succeed in the role, aren’t always the most technically brilliant.

It’s not what makes them tick.

That’s not to say they lack technical proficiency more that they understand that their technical expertise is just part of their skillset.

Business performance focused

They really are passionate about delivering and improving business performance.

They understand that if the business is performing well it will be reflected in the financial results.

After all financial performance is, at the end of the day just an indicator of what is or isn’t happening in an organisation in a common currency called money.

Understand the business and drivers of success

Whenever I’m delivering workshops on business partnering, we go round the room (or virtual room) and delegates share their number one action.

A high proportion of people say improving their understanding of the business and drivers of success.

It’s easy to confuse understanding the business on a spreadsheet with understanding the business operationally.

Getting that understanding of the business and drivers of success will help you so much in doing the role well.

Interpersonal skills

For me that’s the ability to form great relationships.

It’s about the ability to gain trust and respect.

It’s about being able to deal professionally with conflict and differences of opinion.

Effective communicator

Someone who can get their message across.  Someone who can make the complex easy to understand.

Equally it’s important that they can listen too.

Can influence and persuade

Being able to influence up, down and across is vitally important.

It’s often the across peer to peer that is most challenging.


No one is going to invite you in as a business partner.

You have to be proactive and show your value.

Personally resilient

There will be challenges along the way, just like in any job.

It’s how you respond to them that makes the difference.

The reality is being that successful finance business partner isn’t down to being brilliant in one area but being a good all rounder in my experience.

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