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Finance business partnering remains a poorly defined discipline, despite increased demand

27 October 2014

  • 53% of companies do not use the insight provided by finance business partners;
  • Only 8% of organisations view the information produced by finance business partners as their primary source of insight for decision-making;
  • 45% of finance functions do not have a clearly defined role for their business partners.

Organisations are increasingly seeking support from finance in decision making, which has resulted in a rise in demand for finance business partnering* activities over the past two years. However, Deloitte’s annual survey of 75 senior financial officers indicates that over half of organisations do not consistently use the insight produced by the finance business partners for decision-making**. While over half the respondents’ views finance as a source of trusted financial information, only 8% of organisations consider this output as their primary source of insight.

Finance has the opportunity to use the wealth of data available to challenge decision-making in the business. The survey findings indicate they are not making the most of this opportunity, with 42% of finance functions having provided data in significant detail, but with limited context. This restricts the amount of guidance business partners can give back to their businesses and the impact they have on decision making.

Malcolm Wilkinson, finance business partnering lead at Deloitte, says: “There is a big difference between simply providing data, and giving insight and guidance. Many finance business partners currently focus their efforts on providing a good service in the eyes of the business. To provide true insight and fulfil their finance responsibilities they must also provide an independent challenge, based on a clear understanding of the true drivers of business performance.”

Deloitte’s analysis has shown that organisations whose business partners have clearly defined roles are much more likely to develop and retain the skills required to guide, influence and challenge the business. Despite a link between clarity of roles and the required skills, 45% of finance functions have no definition for the role of their decision support teams and business partners. In addition, only 5% of respondents apply the definition they do have across the business.

Wilkinson concludes: “Clearly defining the finance business partnering role, including the requirement to challenge the business, is essential.  That clarity enables alignment of expectations with the business, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of finance business partners, as well as supporting their personal development and satisfaction with the role.”

End

Notes to editors

*‘Decision support’ is defined as finance’s analysis of data (including the use of macro economic, financial, sales, marketing, and customer data) to support business partnering activities.
 ‘Business partnering’ is defined as the role that finance undertakes to support the strategic and tactical priorities of the business by delivering insight and guidance in support of growth and future performance.

About this Finance Insight Report
 ** This Finance Insight Report is based on an online survey of 75 chief financial officers, group finance directors and other senior financial leaders of major companies headquartered in the UK. It was carried out between July and September 2014. For copies of the Finance Business Partnering Survey, please visit: www.deloitte.com.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see www.deloitte.co.uk/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press. For more information, please visit www.deloitte.co.uk.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

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