1) Finance Basics – To add value you need to become an expert in the basics of finance (Budgeting, Planning, and Forecasting). You should spend time in various areas of finance such as accounting, external reporting, treasury and operations finance. As a financial expert, you should be able to help your business partners understand the financial impacts of their decisions.
2) Understand the Business: As an add value leader in finance, you cannot work in the silos of finance and accounting. You need to understand how the business works, so you ca influence strategic business decision-making through analytics and decision impact. For this, you should spend time in various departments in the business-whether assuming a role in the business yourself or taking on various operational finance roles. You should understand the company’s customers (internal/external) and take every opportunity to visit various locations, meet with the customers, and spend time with marketing and sales.
3) Influence beyond Finance: To be an add value finance leader, you need to reach out and work across functions and departments. Business cannot make any strategic decisions without understanding its financial impacts and weighing the risks. To be a finance leader, you need to learn how to communicate the story that numbers are telling, and use your influencing skills to lead to better educated business decisions.
4) Be Agile: Change is one of the most common words and consistently occurring in business today. This change can be brought by internal re-organizations or shifts in the marketplace, or new products brought to market. To be successful in finance today, you need to be agile and develop it as one of your strengths, to not only survive change, but also to thrive, develop and provide guidance in changing environments. You want to be recognized as an individual that can support change and help other groups with the impact of financial department changes.
5) Be a People Leader: People are the most important asset in any function. A finance function may have the latest systems, the most reliable data sources and defined processes, but if it does not have the right people managing the systems, analyzing the data or executing the processes, the finance function will not perform well. To be a finance leader, you need to be able to attract, hire, develop, and retain a highly skilled team of finance professionals that includes a good balance of people.