Few business leaders would argue that the finance group plays a central role in keeping management informed about the well-being of the organization. And few would argue that finance, often through the efforts of the CFO, plays an increasingly vital part in helping to inform and direct strategic planning.
As FSN: The Modern Finance Forum, says in its 2017 Future of Finance Survey, “The finance function does have a very necessary role in the strategic progress of the business. (CFOs) need to be the financial architects of new, disruptive business models that can compete in today’s marketplace.”
But to do that, the FSN survey says, finance professionals must gain the trust of the organization’s business units and executive leaders.
And to do that, finance must demonstrate that it is a conscientious caretaker of the business’s most important asset—its core financial data, also known as “the numbers.”
The Truth About the Numbers
It’s easy for non-finance groups to take the operations of accounting and finance for granted, and view accountants as worker-bees who deliver the low-level information that will be turned into management reports, regulatory reports, and disclosure filings.
Yet the more savvy executives know too well just how crucial those numbers can be. A material error in a financial disclosure filing can bring significant loss, in reputation as well as bottom-line costs, to any business at any time. And it can bring about losses in investor confidence as well.
How can finance demonstrate that it deserves the trust of the non-finance areas of the organization?
By putting in place the processes that safeguard the accounting data; by finding new ways to measure and continuously improve those processes; and by thus serving as an example to other business units of how well-thought-out process design can bring safety and efficiency to the most important aspects of the business.
By setting an example of effective, continuing process innovation, finance will finally achieve the visibility—and the trust—it deserves.
Read our first issue of BlackLine Quarterly to learn more about how your organization can build trust, internally and globally.