How Do Finance Teams Function Best?

Dec 28, 2023 by Zazil Martinez

Beyond the indispensable role of finance software, today we delve into the heartbeat of financial prowess—the people. From embracing diversity and fostering collaboration to adapting to change, we unveil the keys that elevate a finance team from good to exceptional.

The finance team is integral to any organization, managing all functions related to the company’s financial well-being. The finance department forecasts future growth, makes long-term investments, pays taxes, creates budgets, organizes the books, analyzes data, tracks cash flow, and advises leaders. But what makes a finance team go from good to great?

We’ve discussed finance software and automation at length. The right software is integral to the finance team's function. But that's not today's topic.

Today, we will talk about the people on the finance team and our top tips for a fine-tuned, efficient, and happy finance team.


Diversity and Collaboration

Diversity in a finance team includes more than different demographic characteristics. It also means bringing people with varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives together.

Imagine a team composed of individuals with different backgrounds. They might be from finance, economics, engineering, or even the arts. Each brings a unique set of skills and outlooks to the table. This diversity leads to more comprehensive data analyses and a broader understanding of the business.

A diverse finance team is better equipped to navigate the complexities of the global business environment. Different perspectives provide valuable insights into international markets, enabling informed financial decisions.

Collaboration goes beyond the finance department. It involves working with other areas, like sales, marketing, operations, and executive leadership. It ensures that financial decisions align with the overall business strategy. For instance, working closely with the sales team can provide insights into customer needs and market trends. This can influence financial forecasts and budgeting decisions.


Continuous Learning and Development

Team members must keep learning and developing to grow and adapt. This helps them get the skills they need for their current roles and be committed to expanding their knowledge. This mindset recognizes that what is effective today may not be effective tomorrow due to technological changes, regulations, or the market.

Continuous learning goes beyond formal education or occasional training. It includes activities that encourage curiosity and professional growth. Team members can learn by staying updated on industry trends, reading relevant publications, and participating in online conversations to share insights.

Continuous learning is essential for both skills and soft skills. Effective communication, leadership, and critical thinking are also important in finance. Continuous learning improves these skills. It helps explain complex financial concepts clearly, work well with colleagues, and contribute to strategic discussions.


Strategic Alignment

Finance teams must align closely with the business strategy. It is like a roadmap for success—it shows where the company wants to go, which markets to focus on, and how to stand out. Finance teams play a crucial role in supporting and carrying out this strategy.

To reach strategic goals, finance teams must go beyond traditional reporting and accounting functions. They must become partners, participating in decision-making processes impacting the company's future.

Strategic alignment means looking ahead. Finance teams must predict future financial needs and risks. They should align their strategies with potential market shifts or changes in regulations. This proactive approach helps the company adjust to changes and take advantage of opportunities. Strategic alignment ensures that financial decisions are not made alone but are part of the overall strategy.


Understanding Customers Needs

Finance teams need to focus on customers, not just on financial tasks. They must understand and meet their clients' financial needs to reach success. They can work to understand their clients' challenges and goals. Then, they create financial solutions that match their objectives with a customer-centric approach.

When financial professionals work closely with clients, they can understand their financial needs better. This understanding allows them to provide accurate and timely information. It also helps them create flexible payment terms and financial solutions for each client's situation. They can build strong relationships and gain trust by understanding the client's business and financial situation. This positions the finance team as a strategic partner rather than just a support function.

A finance team that focuses on customers goes beyond just transactions. It communicates proactively and predicts and meets clients' financial needs before they're obvious. This approach lets finance professionals give helpful advice and innovative solutions that help clients succeed. A customer-focused finance team is crucial for creating a good customer experience, making clients happy, and making the company more competitive.


Adaptability to Change

Adaptability to change is a fundamental quality that distinguishes effective finance teams. Markets evolve, technologies advance, and regulatory environments shift. A finance team's ability to navigate these changes is crucial for success. This adaptability requires a mindset that welcomes new challenges and embraces innovation.

Finance professionals must be open to reevaluating practices. This includes adopting emerging financial technologies, redefining financial strategies, and adjusting forecasting models in response to evolving economic conditions.

An adaptable finance team responds to and anticipates change. This positions the company to thrive in an ever-evolving environment.


Professional Development

To grow professionally, doing more than just learning technical skills is important. You also need to take a holistic approach and focus on developing your human side. This means understanding that people change and grow as they gain experience, face challenges, and learn new things.

It helps people find and improve their strengths, people skills, and leadership abilities. It's about realizing the importance of emotional intelligence, effective communication, and teamwork. Finance professionals often work in fast-paced settings where understanding people is as important as understanding numbers.

Emphasizing the human side of professional development encourages a supportive work culture. Team members feel valued, heard, and motivated to contribute their best.