Modern Finance Teams: Not just a cog in the wheel but an Indispensable Ally in Business

As a forward-thinking, ambitious business owner, you know that the old stereotype of a dusty office filled with number-crunching, petty cash guarding and fierce budget-policing staff, demanding accountability for each and every penny is a thing of the past. Today’s modern finance teams are vital enablers of creativity, innovation and planning.   

A well-structured and driven team, coupled with modern technology, partners perfectly with your creative vision and can help you navigate and chart the path of growth and success.  

So how and when did this change happen?  How can getting it right in the early stage help your business in today’s ever changing economic landscape?  

Looking back:

In the pre-, and early digital age, it was vital that every business had good fiscal control over the books – the actual physical record of every single transaction that took place in a business. Mistakes were costly and hard to rectify. Successful business was as reliant on good bookkeeping as it was sales. This meant that the focus for the finance dept was mainly on avoiding or reducing risk, strict controls and the minutiae of accounting for every single transaction. The finance team was often hidden away from many of the ‘core’ functions of a business.  Quite literally in the back office and were pigeonholed as the bean counters.  

That all changed with two things: the digital revolution and the globalisation of business. 

Both these factors led to an increase in competition for almost all business – no longer was it enough to be the only law firm in town or the only housebuilder in the county. It meant that being aware of the competition, understanding data and forward planning became ever more important to the success of virtually every business. Alongside that, the function of finance became not just a way to record what had already happened, but a key to using the past as a basis for the future.  

The time of the finance team managing only costs and cash are long since gone. Nowadays, the finance function is, or at least should be, squarely in the strategic centre of the business. There to help a business owner or leadership team leverage the data to inform decisions, boost their competitive advantage and guide strategy.  

For example: before a vital decision is made, the finance team can draw up analyses, risks and forecasts to enable the best result possible. Finance is no longer hidden away in the back office. 

What’s more, the advent of incredible new financial technology has transformed the modern finance department. A significant portion of the admin and operations tasks are no longer required. This leaves finance professionals with the opportunity to use smart technology to work in a new analytical and strategic way when it comes to business finances.  

This means that, rather than being stuck with monitoring and recording revenue, expenses and regulations, finance can be considered the backbone of innovation, development and growth. Just think what a different investment in R&D has made to many businesses – something which a good finance team has made accessible.  

What does this mean for the modern finance team?

All this development has basically lifted all the roles in finance, not least, the leader of the modern finance team. Whether that be a Head of Finance, CFO or Finance Director, the person heading up the finance team is now a vital cog in the wheels of an organisation. Possibly sitting on the board, the insight and analysis provided by the finance leader is key for planning ahead and shaping the strategic direction of the company. No longer is it enough to be able to talk through the last quarter with a couple of pie charts.  

Their expanded, and growing influence highlights just how important a well-functioning finance team with experienced financial professionals are to the growth and stability of any business. 

At the same time, it doesn’t all just depend on the CFO. The whole team has shifted from primarily bookkeeping to working collaboratively with the rest of the organisation. From Marketing, Ops and IT, the finance team need to be able to work with a wide range of people and departments. Ensuring that their professional development keeps up with the changing demands of your business means you will all benefit from a culture of teamwork and collaboration.   

Without doubt, the key functions are still important. Ensuring you have the right tools, the right team structure and skills and experience shouldn’t be overlooked in the race for a modern finance team. Staying on top of bookkeeping, regulatory requirements and ensuring the day-to-day functions occur as required need to be balanced with the ever-changing technology and opportunities that come from a more open structure. Values, impact and sustainability are all part of the new business environment and are becoming ever more important alongside those more traditional functions.  

Basically: the finance team, and the person heading up the finance team aren’t going anywhere. While the roles have changed a lot in the past few years, finding ways to benefit from the skills and experience they can bring to the wider organisation will set your business up for continued growth and success, no matter what changes are ahead.  

Your finance team

Knowing exactly what your finance team, and therefore business, needs to succeed, isn’t always obvious. Our Finance Team Diagnostic Session is an efficient and effective way for you to understand what you need now, and in the future. Coupled with our finance recruitment expertise, we’ll get you on track to achieve your business goals faster than you can say ‘Where did I put my forecast?’ Get in touch to find out more and book in your Finance Team Diagnostic Session.