What Is a Finance Business Partner? (And How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 December 2022

Published 12 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Finance business partners are accountants that provide financial information and support to various organisational departments. They typically advise these departments on insights, analysis and tools to help them meet their financial objectives and align their work to the organisation's business strategy using informed decisions. Discovering the answer to "what is a finance business partner?" can help those interested in business and finance decide to pursue this career path. In this article, we discuss what a business partner is, what they do, how to become one, the skills they use and answer some frequently asked questions.

What is a finance business partner?

As an accountant, finance business partners analyse financial information and develop insights to help departments make informed decisions. They provide different teams within an organisation with real-time support and information, using tools and expertise to analyse data and advise on decisions. Finance business partners learn about the business unit they work with to understand their needs and goals, and then use their analytical and commercial expertise to help them meet these goals.

What does a finance business partner do?

Bridging the gap between raw data and powerful insights is the focus of financial business partners. They analyse information that helps business units perform better financially or adapt their processes to meet long-term goals. They present their key findings and insights to operational staff in a way that's easy to understand and helps them implement changes.

With a background in accounting, they use their financial expertise in a business setting to highlight market trends and consider them in their insights that are given to key decision-makers.

Finance business partners are typically responsible for:

  • Analysing and interpreting raw data to develop valuable insights that relate to business strategy and financial reports

  • Enhancing the impact and understanding of their findings through effective communication with department teams

  • Helping develop commercial processes to improve finance operations within various departments

  • Building professional relationships with senior management, head of department staff and their teams

  • Partnering with business units to enhance their short and long-term financial goals

  • Establishing processes to develop budget and forecast insights within teams

  • Reporting findings and results to senior management

  • Training teams in financial principles and strategies to enhance procedures

  • Reviewing internal and client processes to identify financial risks and areas to be improved

How to become a finance business partner

Generally, finance business partners are professionals who have developed their expertise in a chosen industry. They typically develop a financial background through work experience as well as university studies and may specialise in a particular field.

Some finance business partners choose to become accredited as Chartered Accountants, which acknowledges their understanding of the field and related principles. Below you can find a step-by-step guide to becoming a finance business partner:

1. Complete a bachelor's degree

Aspiring finance business partners can pursue an education in a finance field, including a Bachelor of Commerce or a Bachelor of Finance and Accounting. These courses are offered at many universities around the country and typically take three years of full-time study to complete.

You might learn foundational principles in the respective field and learn how to apply them to projects and case studies. Most finance courses cover theoretical and practical accounting concepts, covering the legal, ethical and strategic principles of finance and accounting.

2. Consider a master's degree

If you have already completed a bachelor's degree in a different field, you can undertake a master's degree as an alternative education to becoming a finance business partner. You can undertake a Master of Accounting and Finance course after completing various bachelor's degrees, making it possible for many graduates to pursue the field. Additionally, acquiring a master's degree is an excellent idea for finance graduates to advance their education, learn more specific principles and develop their future job prospects.

In this course, you might explore financial and management accounting, including corporate finance, auditing and taxation. You may learn how managers make financial decisions and investments, which is directly related to the work of finance business partners. This course also focuses on using markets and financial instruments to enhance returns and minimise risks, teaching you to analyse information and create insights.

3. Consider becoming a Chartered Accountant

Becoming a chartered accountant is a process that ensures members have acquired the necessary knowledge and experience to become accredited. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand is the institute that supports chartered accountants in education and career development while engaging in advocacy and areas of public interest. Becoming a chartered accountant can prove your high standard of work performance and accounting background, assisting you in reaching a finance business partner position.

To enter the chartered accountant program, you can ensure you meet minimal experience and education requirements. Once you enter that program, you might complete core subjects and mentored practical experience. Having this accreditation can be advantageous to your job prospects and create opportunities that assist in your path towards becoming a finance business partner.

4. Gain experience in your field

Finance business partners typically begin their careers in entry-level finance or business positions, gaining relevant experience in their chosen field. Once you've completed your studies, you could search for graduate job positions in finance and shortlist roles that appeal to you. Consider the keywords used in the job descriptions, and use these exact words in your resume or cover letter to highlight your suitability for the position.

Once you start working in the industry, focus on your career development and learning about the company and profession. Expanding your knowledge may help you upskill and efficiently advance your career. When you have enough experience in the field, you can begin to seek finance business partner positions, either within your own company or for another company.

What is a finance business partner's skill set like?

Below you can find some relevant soft skills that can help finance business partners succeed in their careers:

Analytical skills

The role of finance business partners is to gather raw data and interpret it into meaningful information for businesses to act on. To fulfil their duties, they take sections of data and then order and manipulate it to ensure its accuracy. They then analyse this information to discover valuable trends. Therefore, analytical skills are required to study the data, perform calculations and deduce insights. Finance business partners may use their experience and theoretical knowledge to apply techniques and understanding to this data.

Communication skills

Finance business partners are a link between financial understandings and insights and various business departments. The success of their work depends on how well they can convey their findings to teams that have different backgrounds. Therefore, strong communication skills can help these professionals present understandable information that department teams can use to enhance their financial operations.

Decision-making skills

As well as providing insights, finance business partners also play an essential role in making critical decisions based on their findings. This can involve investment decisions, new initiations and making decisions on new revenue streams. As these professionals have valuable expertise in finance, they can contribute their experiences and knowledge to help department managers and business leaders make decisions that advance the company. Therefore, being comfortable making information-backed decisions is a valuable skill for finance business partners.

Interpersonal skills

Finance business partners rely on strong interpersonal skills to work well with various teams. Interpersonal skills relate to an individual's ability to build professional relationships and adapt their communication to their audience.

These finance professionals are responsible for translating advanced finance principles into digestible information that non-finance teams can use to enhance their operations. Sometimes, this information may involve negative results that are hard to communicate, so interpersonal skills help these professionals deliver information calmly and efficiently.

Frequently asked questions similar to "What is a finance business partner?"

Below you can find the answers to some questions about this profession that are similar to "What is a finance business partner?" and are frequently asked:

What is a finance business partner's salary?

Finance business partners earn a national average salary of $107,330 per year. They are often compensated well because of the positive impact they can have on the financial success of organisations. The information and insight they provide help businesses grow their department and pursue avenues to increase their revenue.

Is it hard to become a finance business partner?

Becoming a finance business partner requires more time and commitment than most professions because it relies on previous career experience and accreditations. If you're dedicated to the finance field and work to grow your skill set in early-career roles, finance business partner positions can be a natural progression from your experiences of working within the area.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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