18 Resources To Help Finance Professionals Keep Track Of What’s TrendingNovember 9, 2023
Original content can be found on the Forbes Finance Council website.
Financial leaders play an important role in driving organizational success. Beyond managing budgets and financial statements, they serve as strategic advisors, influencing critical decisions throughout the company. Yet, providing effective financial guidance and support to diverse teams and management can be a challenging endeavor.
From fostering transparent communication to leveraging advanced analytics, Forbes Finance Council members explore how leaders can empower their colleagues to make informed, financially sound choices. Below you’ll find some of the essential strategies that financial leaders can employ to enhance their advisory role.
1. Partner With HR To Ensure That Employees Are Financially Literate
Partner with HR to bring financial literacy to the broader company. An employee’s financial outlook is impacted by more than just their paycheck, yet often, they don’t fully comprehend the value of their total compensation (including equity and benefits). Working with HR and other senior leaders to ensure employees are financially literate is a crucial step to building lifelong success. – Crissi Cole, Penny Finance
2. Work Toward Common Financial Goals With Transparency
For financial leaders, transparency is key when working with colleagues. Transparency helps departments across the organization understand and work toward common financial goals. Follow the principles of “visibility, voice and vote” that allow managers from non-financial departments the opportunity to understand and actively contribute to financial decisions. – Monique Johnson, Beneficial State Bank
3. Create Monthly Reporting Tools That Other Departments Can Access
Financial leaders can establish formal monthly reporting tools, so all departments receive ongoing feedback and understand their budgets. Active communication between financial leaders and management can help connect financial decisions to strategic goals. This ensures that everyone understands the impact of their actions on the company’s overall success. – Sonya Thadhani Mughal, Bailard, Inc.
4. Avoid Jargon And Use Plain Language
Avoid the finance jargon. When explaining financial matters to other departments or management, use plain language. Paint a financial picture that’s easy to understand, so everyone’s on the same page without needing an in-depth explanation. This also makes financial leaders more approachable in terms of being sought out for guidance and support. – Ryan Carroll, Wealth Assistants
5. Leverage An Overabundance Of Communication
Remember to communicate, including from yourself as a finance leader, communication from your finance team and regular communication via financial reporting. A finance team that communicates well with the wider organization understands what is happening within the business, and is actively brought into any decision-making. Plus, it is important to pitch the communication at the right level for your audience. – Andrew Collis, Moneypenny
6. Deliver Clear And Concise Reports On A Timely Basis
Financial leaders can provide better financial guidance and support across the company through regular, clear and concise financial reports to department heads and management that are delivered on a timely basis. Reports should include insights and explanations about the numbers, highlight KPIs relevant to each department and allow ample time for feedback and contributions to best measure performance. – Peter Goldstein, Exchange Listing LLC
7. Explain The Why Behind The Fundamentals Of Finance
There is no one way or easy way, in my view, that financial leaders can provide better financial guidance. The most important way is to explain why and teach the fundamentals of finance to increase financial competency for non-financial teams. It is important to learn and understand other business perspectives in order to convert difficult financial information into understandable language. It is a journey where you need to individualize. – Edita Baranauskaitė, STATICUS
8. Share Information And Goals Across The Company
9. Use Visualization Tools To Represent Complex Financial Data
A great way to support other departments is by using data visualization tools to create interactive and easy-to-understand visual representations of financial data. Visualizations, including charts, graphs and heatmaps can make complex financial information more accessible to non-finance professionals. – Jeffrey Bartel, Hamptons Group, LLC
10. Deliver Only Relevant Metrics To Each Department And Manager
Define just a few key metrics or line items that are relevant to each department and manager, and only deliver that information to them—more would be a distraction. Put those key metrics in their proper context, explaining what their relevance is to the big picture of the company finances. Finally, discuss with each manager what actions their departments can take to improve their metrics. – Julie DeLong, Backyard Bookkeeper
11. Provide Tailored Training And Education On Finance
One effective way for financial leaders to provide better financial guidance and support to other departments and management is to offer tailored financial training and education programs. By organizing workshops or training sessions that explain financial concepts and reporting in a clear and accessible manner, financial leaders can empower non-finance teams to make more informed decisions. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
12. Embed Finance Partners In Other Aspects Of The Business
It is very important for finance to be able to understand the language of business. Finance business partners should embed themselves into the business, understand how it operates and then provide analysis and reports based on the needs of the business to help it make the right decisions. It is not just enough to provide the data—help the business understand the “so what” and “why?” – Geetanjali Tandon, Ceridian
13. Create Short-Term Metrics And Leading Indicators
Assist in the creation of short-term core metrics and leading indicators. What story does each number tell and how would the company like to see it change over time? These metrics should roll up and have an impact at the leadership level as well. Then make sure that the reports are simple to obtain and understood by the manager. – Marjorie Adams, Fourlane
14. Offer Patience And Encourage Questions
Have patience and teach financial information to those departments that specialize in something other than accounting or finance. Make yourself available to answer questions and encourage questions to help everyone learn. Offer different ways to look at business information and financial metrics. – Dave Sackett, AIOne, Inc.
15. Help All Departments Create Realistic Budgets
When it comes to providing better financial guidance to your company it is imperative to ensure that all departments are knowledgeable in creating realistic budgets and forecasts. It may be of value to provide hands-on guidance on cost-saving opportunities and revenue strategies based on historical data and market trends, as well as consistently communicating clearly with all departments. – Xan Myburgh, Backd Business Funding
16. Tailor Your Guidance To The Goals Of The Company
Always keep in mind your guidance is there to help the company and its decision-makers. The more you embrace a gatekeeper role, and a “CF-NO” perception, you’ll end up being less successful. The more you understand the goals of the groups you are supporting, the more you can tailor your guidance in terms of those goals as opposed to just budget, spend and margin reports. – Aaron Spool, Eventus Advisory Group, LLC
17. Provide Clarity Around How Success Will Be Measured
Provide a clear understanding of how financial success will be measured. Some projects have expected longer-term returns on investment and therefore may be loss leaders in the short run. If management is overly concerned about the short-term losses, it may lead to poor long-term performance for that project. Providing clarity around measurement ensures everyone keeps their focus on the target. – Christopher Foder, CExP, First Financial Group – Meridian Financial Associates
18. Spend Time Understanding How Non-Finance Departments Work
One way to provide better financial support is by finding out how other departments function and what information they use to make decisions. Once you know this, you can educate the other departments on the information you have available and present it in a format that works for how their department functions versus how finance and accounting functions. – Karla Dennis, Karla Dennis and Associates Inc.
19. Create Easy-To-Understand KPIs
Financial leaders should come up with easy-to-understand key performance indicators (KPIs) for each department and how they link to the overall success of the company. Review the KPIs at regular intervals to help guide departments across the company. – Raghavkumar Parmar, MMA Pan Asia Fund Management
20. Use Storytelling And Build Relationships To Explain Financial Jargon
Adopt a storytelling approach to break down complex financial jargon and how their actions affect the “bottom line.” Build trusted relationships and provide solutions to problems. For example, help them understand how deciding to give more discounts or reduce prices to sell more products will affect the profit and cash if the required elasticity is not achieved. – Oluwatoyin Aralepo, Mastercard Foundation