NG STRATE                           RICI ECISION-MAKGIES                          P D              IN                     ...
03	   Introduction04	   Executive summary – six key findings07	   From scorekeeper to value-added partner11	   Addressing ...
3IntroductionAs the business                         Focused in the past on daily accounting            This report examin...
4Executive summarySix key findings         1                                                2                             ...
5The expanding role of finance                      HR departments have a key role to                 Finance staff need t... · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
7From scorekeeperto value-added partnerFinance in transformation                                            The pilot has ...
8Finance business partnering has become             Characterising the maturity of business partnering within organisation...
942% of Belgian executivessay economic uncertaintyincreases the need for thefinance function to developbusiness partnering...
10This uncertainty and volatility has made          extremely agile to reallocate resources from         but this proporti...
11Addressing the skills gapA broader set of skills                           cited as the most important capabilities with...
12Filling the talent pipeline                        European respondents, including those from       One way to build the...
1373% of Belgian executivesare looking outside theircompanies to recruitpermanent or temporary staffto manage their busine...
14      Company case study - Belgacom:      Finance Business Partnering      In the ten years that Diederik Bossuyt,      ...
15Business partnering:the SME perspectiveIn many ways, business                               But SMEs do face particular ...
16                                    BUSINESS                                 PARTNERSHIP                                ...
17Business partnering in action:making it happenImplementing business                               Key barriers to formin...
18Sending the right                                performance, then it’s very difficult to really   interviewees note tha...
19      Company case study - AstraZeneca:      Identifying finance business      partnering capabilities      In 2007, Ast...
20ConclusionBusiness partnering                             this trend. More could be done to implement           Successf...
21      Business partnering      Five steps to get you started       1 Define your                               3 Perform...
22AcknowledgementsWe would like to thank                  André Oerlemans                         Gary Rourke             ...
23      Our specialised services      Robert Half Management Resources      Robert Half Management Resources is the premie...
About Robert Half Management ResourcesRobert Half Management Resources is a division of Robert Half, the world’sfirst and ...
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Robert Half Belgium CFO Report January 2013


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Robert Half Belgium CFO Report January 2013

  2. 2. 03 Introduction04 Executive summary – six key findings07 From scorekeeper to value-added partner11 Addressing the skills gap17 Business partnering in action: making it happen20 Conclusion
  3. 3. 3IntroductionAs the business Focused in the past on daily accounting This report examines the progress that tasks, finance executives are increasingly companies in Belgium and other countriesenvironment becomes being asked to collaborate with other parts across Europe have made in developingmore complex, the of the business through finance business finance business partnerships, and the partnering, whereby the finance function problems faced in embedding suchfinance department provides support for strategy development partnerships within the organisation. Thisis having to adapt. and decision-making across the whole paper focuses primarily on the responses business. and insights from companies in Belgium, but also compares these findings where relevant This expanded role infuses greater rigour with those from other European countries. into a company. But it requires a different set of skills from those traditionally deployed in a finance department, and these can be challenging to find or develop. Business partners need to be able to summarise About the research and translate the key financial The research is based on an parameters in terms that senior independent survey, commissioned by Robert Half and conducted management can understand in order in July and August 2012, among 200 group or divisional finance to help them steer towards directors in Belgium, as part of a broader survey of 1,000 companies our strategic goals. across five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, the Diederik Bossuyt VP and Group Controller, Belgacom Netherlands and the UK. In addition to the survey, 16 in-depth interviews were conducted by Longitude Research with financial professionals and experts.1.000 group or divisional financedirectors were surveyed, spreadevenly between Belgium, France,Germany, the Netherlands and the · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  4. 4. 4Executive summarySix key findings 1 2 3Finance departments are Although finance business Despite the benefits, firms aregoing beyond their traditional partnering has become ‘mission struggling to fully implementscorekeeping role to provide critical’ in companies in Belgium, finance business partnering infinancial support for decision- not all are adopting this model. their organisation.making across the business. More than six out of ten (62%) businesses According to this survey, about one in fiveFinance business partners now carry out in Belgium confirmed that their companies (19%) firms in Belgium struggle to implementa range of activities in collaboration with are looking to form stronger partnerships business partnering properly and only 35%different parts of the business. The main between finance and other parts of the have a function that is fully embedded acrossbenefits of partnerships, as identified in our business. But this leaves almost four out the organisation. Compared with the othersurvey of businesses in Belgium, relate to of ten (38%) who are not adopting this surveyed European countries, this is a goodimproved corporate performance (38%), approach. This is the highest proportion result, with only the UK having a higherbetter risk management (30%) and reducing among all countries surveyed. And almost proportion of companies at which businessthe cost of the finance function (28%). one in ten (9%) Belgian executives say they partnering is embedded, at 50%. But it will“Business partners are the guardians, and we do not currently have any finance personnel be important to avoid complacency. Poorsafeguard value creation,” explains Diederik undertaking partnering activities at all, role and skill definition in the finance teamBossuyt, vice president and group controller which is the second highest country finding can undermine the function’s capacity toat Belgacom. “The best way of doing that is after the Netherlands. So, even though the support the business, resulting in blurredby not only providing the financial tools for overall majority recognises the importance boundaries, duplication of activity, and poorsuccess, but also helping to implement the of efficient business partnering today, there service levels. Furthermore, as the role ofdifferent milestones of the strategy.” remains a minority that has not yet embarked finance shifts from mainly providing historical on the journey. This implies that Belgium is information to a more controlling role, andFaced with an uncertain, complex and volatile part of the overall business trend towards one where they need to be able to say no toenvironment, companies need to develop greater adoption of business partnering, but the rest of the business, senior managementa clearer understanding of the drivers of is not at the vanguard of this trend compared support becomes crucial. One fifth (19%) ofbusiness performance and the effect of with its neighbouring countries. executives locally flagged this up asnew initiatives on the development of the crucial for Business partnering can help toachieve this. Our Belgian survey respondentsagree, with the analysis of historicalperformance (37%) and forward-lookingdecision-making (37%) identified as keypriorities for business partnering. 38% 62% 19% of Belgian executives identify improved of Belgian executives are looking to form of Belgian executives struggle to corporate performance as the main benefit stronger partnerships between finance and implement business partnering properly of partnerships, followed by better risk other parts of the business and only 35% have a function that is fully management (30%) and reducing the cost of embedded across the organisation the finance function (28%) · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  5. 5. 5The expanding role of finance HR departments have a key role to Finance staff need to focusrequires new skills and many play in developing the necessary on value-added partnering incompanies in Belgium are having skills. addition to more routine tasks.difficulties in finding them. Finance needs specific talent programmes to Efforts need to be made to free up the timeCommercially savvy, fast to learn, with strong identify and develop business partners, and of those within finance, so that they caninterpersonal and communication skills, the manage their careers in a structured way. focus on value-added partnering. One routeprofile of today’s finance partner contrasts Job rotation, foreign assignments, and job is through greater use of shared services.markedly with the accounting orientation of shadowing all have a role to play in helping to When asked what changes they felt wouldfinance executives from just ten to fifteen facilitate the necessary skills and experience. be most important in helping businessyears ago. Michel Allé, the CFO of SNCB Attracting finance personnel with the right partnering to flourish within their organisation,Holding Finances and finance professor at profile may require a rethink of traditional the highest proportion (22%) pointed toSolvay Brussels School of Economics and career paths for such executives: aspiring greater use of shared services, ahead ofManagement Finance, has witnessed this finance business partners need to see that anything else. At the same time, sharedchange over time: “Twenty years ago, finance there are clear and exciting opportunities to service centres are themselves becomingwas almost 95% technical hard skills and 5% further develop and grow within the business. more partnering-oriented, as they take onsoft skills. Today the importance of soft skills more value-added activities. As technology All of this will require HR and finance tohas dramatically increased. When training our delivers more accurate and digestible work more closely together. About four in tenpeople at SNCB, we devote almost half the financial information, the proliferation of new (39%) Belgian executives state that the leveltime to learning soft skills,” he says. data will impose further time constraints on of influence that the finance function has on the finance function, increasing the need toAccordingly, it is of little surprise that more the HR department is very good to excellent. think carefully about how finance activitiesthan one out of four (41%) finance directors Collaboration between finance and HR does should be allocated.find it difficult to source candidates with not always come easy, however. Sixteen perthe right experience, making this the top cent of Belgian executives say that they needbarrier to effective business partnering in to work harder to build influence in the HRthe finance function. Although three out department than they do in research andof four (75%) Belgian executives believe development, marketing and sales, supplythere is adequate availability of experienced chain, information technology, executivefinance professionals who can perform a management and partnering role on the market, just14% consider the pool of talent to be strong.Furthermore, nearly half (49%) of Belgianrespondents say that, when recruiting financeprofessionals, leadership and communicationskills are in particular short supply. 41% 39% 22% of Belgian executives say that they find of Belgian executives state that the level of Belgian executives say the establishment it difficult to source candidates with the of influence that the finance function or increased use of shared services is most right experience has on the HR department is very good important to enable business partnering to · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  6. 6. · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  7. 7. 7From scorekeeperto value-added partnerFinance in transformation The pilot has to drive the vehicle andOver the past ten years, the finance functionhas been under increasing pressure fromseveral directions. Shifting shareholderand market expectations, new regulations, make decisions but herapidly changing technology, and increasedcompetition have all taken their toll. This has has to have someoneled many companies to launch cost-cuttinginitiatives, reduce duplication of work and with him...extend the influence of the finance functionacross the organisation.When it comes to transforming the financefunction, there is no single approach.However, certain trends are clear. Typically,routine financial activities are now undertakenby a shared service centre or outsourcingprovider. Centralised centres of excellence to identify road turns and giveare charged with running specialist activities,such as treasury. And the rest of the financedepartment, while still overseeing complianceand control, is increasingly expected to take early warning whenon a value-added, ‘business partnering’ role,to help other parts of the business improve heading off track.their analysis and decision-making. Thierry VernierAccording to Gary Rourke of AstraZeneca, Vice President for Plan & Financial Control, Sanofi“There is a vital role for finance businesspartners to help optimise performance andmake the right business decisions to ensurewe’re allocating resources in the right way,and making the right calls in terms of strategyand the overall direction of the business.”62% of Belgian executivessay that their companies arelooking to form a deeper,value-adding relationshipbetween the finance functionand other parts of the · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  8. 8. 8Finance business partnering has become Characterising the maturity of business partnering within organisationsmission critical for many businesses. In thesurvey, 62% of Belgian respondents say that 13% Belgium We do not have a formal business partneringtheir companies are looking to form a deeper, team but our core finance executives perform 9% All respondentsvalue-adding relationship between the finance these activities as part of their day-to-day rolefunction and other parts of the business, 9%compared with 74% of respondents overall. We do not yet have a business partnering 9%Yet, almost four out of ten (38%) say that they team but we aspire to establish oneare not seeking to develop this relationship,which is the highest proportion of all countries We have a business partnering team but it is 25%surveyed. This implies that, even though the not yet well established 20%overall majority recognises the importance ofbusiness partnering, Belgium is not one of the We have an established business partnering 19%forerunners in this context. function but we have struggled to embed it 27%However, when looking at the prospects within fully across our organisationthree years, there is a significant increase in We have a very established business 35%the levels of business partnering expected. partnering function that is fully embedded 36%Currently, 19% of Belgian executives state across our organisationthat more than 10% of their finance functioncurrently serves a business partnering role. Butin three years’ time, this number is expectedto double to 38%, which suggests that thetrend for business partnering will becomemore embedded in Belgian business life. Proportion of the finance function currently serving in business partnering roles inRespondents identify the CEO (33%), the Belgium and the proportion expected to serve in these roles in three years’ timeboard of directors (15%) and the CFO (14%)as the most influential stakeholders who will 6% Currentlybe instrumental to develop a deeper business More than 20% 14% Within 3 yearspartnering ‘relationship‘, emphasising thatthe responsibility for developing business 13% 11% to 20%partnering lies at the executive level. 24% 43% 6% to 10% 43% 31% 1% to 5% 15% 9% 0 · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  9. 9. 942% of Belgian executivessay economic uncertaintyincreases the need for thefinance function to developbusiness partnering capabilitiesHow business partnering ensure these are realistic and that no big the business to move forward? What kind of risk factors have been overlooked. They may information do we need if we want to takesupports the business explain to a sales team the financial impact this route? What kind of processes would of guarantees included in a promotion. change for this organisation if we want toFinance business partnering often means They might work with the R&D department, take that route? What are the investmentdifferent things to different people. Broadly, ensuring that competing research projects implications? Strategy is such a big word butthough, it involves finance executives working are evaluated consistently, or by setting the effective strategy is nothing more or nothingalongside different business departments, criteria, such as short-term returns, level of less than what we as business want toproviding financial information, tools, analysis risk, or strategic interest, in order for such achieve in the next couple of years and howand insights to executives, challenging their judgements to be made. we plan to make it happen.”thinking, helping them make more informeddecisions, and driving business strategy. Although there are many activities currently Although business partnering has been“The pilot has to drive the vehicle and make being carried out by the finance function, around for many years, it has taken ondecisions on the road, but he has to have Belgian respondents identify the analysis increased importance, particularly because ofsomeone with him able to identify road turns, of historical performance (37%) as well as economic volatility – a major concern cited byto give him hints on what’s going on, give forward-looking decision-making (37%) as half of respondents, including 42% of Belgianearly warning when they are heading off the most important priorities for business finance leaders. Frank Plaschke, partner andtrack,” says Thierry Vernier, vice president partners. The conclusions derived from global topic leader for ‘Office of the CFO‘ atfor Plan & Financial Control at Sanofi, a forward-looking analyses have an influence BCG, a consulting company, notes: “In today’shealthcare company. on many departments’ decision-making, volatile business environment, business strategy and consequently, the overall partnering is crucially important to assureThese business partnering relationships business performance. André Oerlemans, alignment between the finance function andoperate in myriad ways. For example, CFO, Weight Watchers Benelux says: the business. Furthermore, companies willbusiness partners might work with business “Finance has a key role to play in strategic need to develop a good risk culture; they willunit heads to help clarify how particular key thinking. While you need to have a core team need to be good risk managers.”performance indicators (KPIs) are calculated, looking after the strategy, you also needor how exchange rates are managed. people from the finance team to consider andThey can work with HR to help calculate evaluate the financial implications of futurecompensation packages across the business scenarios. There are a lot of questions to– using comparable data, and correcting be answered. What is the best strategy forfor inflation. They might review forecasts toBusiness activities currently carried out by the finance function in collaboration with the business to a great, or a very great extent 37% Belgium Forecasting future business performance 51% All respondents 37% Analysing historic business performance 48% 35% Providing decision support for strategic choices 50% 34% Evaluating strategic choices 49% 33% Placing business decisions within a broader industry, economic or competitive context 49% 31% Challenging management assumptions 44% 27% Developing overall strategy · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  10. 10. 10This uncertainty and volatility has made extremely agile to reallocate resources from but this proportion is higher among allsupport for forward-looking decision-making areas where it no longer makes sense, and other countries. In addition, 35% of Belgianthe most important priority for business invest in those where it will have a high-value finance directors provide decision support forpartners – a goal identified by half of all impact on the business. strategic choices, making the finance functionrespondents. This entails a shift away from significantly present, though not dominantly,a historical view of the business using Overall, finance is not just checking the in strategy development and decision-makinglagging indicators. Business partners are also data and the formulas, but understanding and support.involved in analysing the impact of initiatives and checking the hypotheses behindon the development of the business. “I expect management’s views, and ensuring the goals This dual role is a challenge in itself. Itmy business partners to get involved in the being pursued are aligned with the company requires the strength to take a tough line,shaping of any new product development strategy. Indeed, finance is increasingly despite any pressure to the contrary. Asor any new pricing strategies across the expected to support strategic development. BCG’s Mr Plaschke notes: “This job is notorganisation,” says Stuart Rollings of Lloyds Even though this trend is present throughout about being liked. Finance partners need toBanking Group. Europe, there are some significant give the right input and challenge – not just differences between countries. Among say yes and do everything you want.”Given today’s shorter business cycles, Belgian respondents, 27% report that financeresource allocation has become a complex collaborates with the business on differentarea to manage. Companies need to be aspects of the strategy development process, This job is not about being liked. Finance partners need to give the right input and challenge – not just say yes and do everything you want. Frank Plaschke Partner and Global Topic Leader: Office of the CFO, BCG37% of Belgian respondentsidentify the analysis of historicalperformance and forward-lookingdecision-making (37%) as themost important priorities forbusiness · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  11. 11. 11Addressing the skills gapA broader set of skills cited as the most important capabilities within Another significant attribute is leadership, as business partnering in all surveyed countries, cited by 28% of the European respondents.Technical finance skills used to be perceived including Belgium with respectively 39% Dassault Systémes’ Mr De Tersant pointsas the only requirement to perform a finance and 31%. out: “Someone who’s just sitting back andand accounting job whereas interpersonal preparing analyses is not that useful. Financeskills were deemed optional. Now, with the Finance leaders also say that good partners need to be willing to step up andrise of business partnering, soft skills have communication skills are vital, with an survey the problem and propose solutionsbecome a must-have. As business partners, emphasis on advocacy. The ability to in order to deal with it. They need to showfinance professionals now need a commercial persuade is particularly important when initiative and leadership.” Antoine Bayonappreciation of the business, as well as business partners challenge senior de Noyer, responsible for leading a globalleadership, team-building, interpersonal, management. “You need people who transformation programme at Carlsonpresentation and other such ‘soft’ skills. can strategically influence the business Wagonlit Travel, a travel company, echoes this. segments they support. They need honed “Business partners need to show initiative –The survey shows that a key capability – and communication skills so they can provide come up with ways of presenting information,one of the biggest challenges – required from insights in a concise, impactful manner, and new ways of looking at questions, to identifybusiness partners is a deep understanding they need to be able to communicate in a way and highlight possible solutions, weigh upof both the business and its industry. So it is that translates to non-finance people,” says different alternatives. Leadership is crucial tonot just about industry knowledge. Both are AstraZeneca’s Mr Rourke. be successful as a business partner.” Most important capabilities in a business partnering role 31% Deep knowledge of the industry41% of Belgian executives 36%agree that challenges in 39%finding candidates with the Deep knowledge of the business 34%right experience is the biggest 27%barrier to business partnering Strong analytical skills 30% 29% Leadership qualities 28% Deep knowledge of the competitive and 21% economic environment 27% 20% Deep knowledge of a function other than finance 22% 16% Technical finance skills 21% 15% Strong interpersonal skills 16% 13% Team-building and management skills 13% A deep understanding of the drivers of business 5% performance 6% 5% Belgium Presentation skills All respondents · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  12. 12. 12Filling the talent pipeline European respondents, including those from One way to build these skills – while also Belgium, pointed to technical financial skills improving relations between finance and theCommercially savvy, keen to learn, with first. rest of the business – is by rotating financestrong communication and leadership staff into other jobs. “The perspective you getskills, the business partner profile is sharply To meet the needs of the finance function working in different roles within the businessdifferent from the traditional financial and to understand what kind of people is invaluable,” says Mr Rader, who has workedemployee of yesteryear. Unsurprisingly, are required, HR has to develop a longer- at Microsoft headquarters in a chief-of-stafffinding people with these skills can be very term, talent development plan with the role, a traditional finance role, a venturechallenging. Belgian executives, however, right curriculum and delivery mechanism. acquisition and integration role, and also inexperience fewer challenges in retraining They also need to create the right mix the field in France and Sweden. “On-the-traditional finance employees to take between the development of internal talent, job training through job shadowing is also aon a business partnering role compared and the recruitment of both interim and very effective way to develop good businesswith most of their European counterparts. permanent business partners. According partners.”Forty-two per cent say that they experience to the executives surveyed for this report,difficulties with retraining, compared with the finance department needs to increase58% for the UK, 56% for France, and 53% its influence within the HR function,for Germany. Only the Netherlands (36%) ahead of other departments like supplyexperience fewer difficulties. When asked chain, information technology, executivewhat capabilities they would prioritise in their management and procurement, in order totraining and development programmes, all help shape this development. Capabilities to prioritise in training and development programmes in order to build an effective business partnering team The perspective Technical finance skills 44% 45% you get working in Leadership qualities 33% different roles within 33% the business is Forecasting skills 29% 26% invaluable. Analytical skills 28% Byron Rader 33% Former CFO, Microsoft France Team-building and management skills 26% 26% Interpersonal skills 24% 31% Presentation skills 20% 15% Performance management skills 12% Belgium 13% All · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  13. 13. 1373% of Belgian executivesare looking outside theircompanies to recruitpermanent or temporary staffto manage their businesspartnering capabilitiesStaffing challenges Respondents also re-affirm concerns about finance professionals need to see clear and obtaining finance professionals with the exciting opportunities within the financeMore than four out of ten (41%) Belgian right skill set. When asked which single function and the business generally. Thisexecutives agree that the shortage of talent skill is in shortest supply when recruiting, helps attract people with the right kind ofis the most significant barrier to building 27% of Belgian respondents indicated skills and aspirations to become businessan effective business partnering team leadership abilities, while 22% referenced partners.within their organisation. Throughout the communication skills. Companies needeconomic downturn, many companies/CFOs At the same time, companies are now to think differently about recruiting thesehave been forced to make some changes recruiting executives from non-traditional skills. AstraZeneca’s Mr Rourke argues thatto their strategies. This has increased the backgrounds into finance. Lloyds, for recruitment should focus on leadershiplikelihood that organisations may experience example, has looked to the mobile phone capabilities and potential, as well as theshortages, because a different skill set is industry. “Mobile phone company staff have capacity to absorb and learn. He asks: “Havenow required to develop effective business a commercial sensibility that works well people demonstrated a degree of flexibility,partnering. This highlights the importance within a bank,” says Mr Rollings. “The kind and have they been prepared to takeof adopting a mix of strategies to ensure of consumer behaviour we are seeing in the some personal risks to drive forward theirthat the right skills are in place, including mobile arena today – changing accounts particular business or career? The traditionalrecruitment of temporary and permanent very quickly, upgrading, downgrading, adding interview process has not been that wellexecutives, and retraining. Overall, though, more facilities to that mobile phone – is geared towards really assessing how goodBelgian executives appear to prefer the similar to what we’re beginning to see in their judgements are, their drive and theirexternal route, with more than seven in ten financial services as change becomes influence.”(73%) looking outside their companies to paramount.”recruit business partnering professionals, Attracting finance personnel with the rightand only 28% focusing on developing profile may also require senior managementexisting talent within their departments. to rethink traditional career paths. AspiringCapabilities in shortest supply when recruiting for the finance function 27% Leadership skills 23% 22% Communication skills 23% 16% Project management skills 20% 16% Technical finance skills 16% 10% Presentation skills 7% 8% Change management skills 7% 3% Belgium Analytical skills 5% All · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  14. 14. 14 Company case study - Belgacom: Finance Business Partnering In the ten years that Diederik Bossuyt, need to move from a backward historical scarce, says Mr Bossuyt, is the ability to vice president and group controller, has perspective on how the company has see the wood from the trees. “Business worked at Belgacom, he has overseen performed in the past, towards a more partners need to be able to summarise an important transition in the way that forward-looking organisation, developing and translate the key financial parameters the finance department engages with leading indicators as early warning signs,” in terms that senior management can the business and what is expected from he says. “That is a big step and will take understand in order to help them steer them. “Until a few years ago, the business time and energy. We have made important towards our strategic goals,” he says. primarily expected partners to provide steps through automating much of our “With the increased input of business them with the numbers, to help them finance activities and we are gradually partnering into strategy, business partners make sure the numbers were right, and evolving to a standardised business model increasingly need to be able to see things in effect, to provide a way of looking at for the company.” from a higher perspective. In Dutch, we things that would ultimately allow them to would say that take their foot out of the To execute on this, the firm has identified say that they were doing a great job,” as clay they are standing in. For many finance several key competencies that they need he explains it. people this is the most difficult thing to from business partners: an entrepreneurial do.” Today, however, the business partner role mindset, business acumen, an ability to at Belgacom is far less about figures and deal with change, strong decision-making much more about challenging. “Our work and managerial courage. As might be is no longer about checking the data expected, such candidates are hard to and the formulas. It is now much more find. One skill that is particularly about validating and double checking Our work is no the analysis and thinking behind it,” he longer about checking says. As a result, business partners at the data and the formulas. the company are increasingly finding themselves needing to challenge It is now much more about management, check the hypotheses validating and double behind their thinking, and make sure the many goals being pursued are aligned checking the analysis and with corporate strategy. “Inevitably there is thinking behind it. some conflict, but I think it’s only what you Diederik Bossuyt would expect as finance takes on a more vice president and group controller controlling function,” says Mr Bossuyt. Belgacom To be effective in this role, Mr Bossuyt believes that his team’s business partners need to rethink the time horizons that they focus on. “As a department, · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  15. 15. 15Business partnering:the SME perspectiveIn many ways, business But SMEs do face particular challenges. But SMEs certainly need help getting over While the classic entrepreneur will have an the more repetitive finance tasks. More thanpartnering comes easier optimistic can-do outlook on how they build half of those polled point to increased usageto SMEs than for larger the business, finance professionals tend of shared services as a key measure to allow to bring a countervailing, evidence-based finance partnering to flourish–a figure that isbusinesses. But SMEs do approach to decision-making. This is not 50% higher than in larger firms. The surveyface particular challenges. always welcomed. Resources are another also shows that business partnering in SMEs challenge: SMEs do not always have deep tends be less involved in various aspectsFigures suggest that some 99.8% of enough pockets to hire the personnel they of strategy which may be connected to thiscompanies in Belgium are SMEs—and need and may find it hard to compete with the need to look after more routine financialaccount for almost two thirds of total compensation and benefits offered by larger transactions.employment and three fifths of value added in competitors.Belgium1. Moreover, fast growing SMEs have André Oerlemans, CFO, Weight Watchersa disproportionate economic impact. Our survey findings show SMEs share many Benelux says: “I think business partnering in similarities with their larger peers when an SME can be more natural because thereSo how well is the SME finance function it comes to business partnering. Indeed, are fewer people in the business so theysupporting decision-making and infusing business partnering is more widely accepted need to interact much more with each other.greater financial rigour across the business? in SMEs: fewer respondents from these firms When you are a small company, everybodyIn many ways, business partnering comes (32%) feel that wider acceptance of the needs each other, so you have to give moreeasier to SMEs than for larger businesses. business partnering is necessary to enable responsibility to your staff. To do this, seniorManagers in smaller businesses tend to be partnering to flourish, compared with 50% for management need to empower the staffmore involved in different areas of the business larger businesses, for example. Indeed, more to be able to take the business partneringon a day-to-day basis. There is less functional SMEs say that they have a very established role – this is key to make it effective. On thespecialisation and fewer business silos, while business partnering function (two out of five) other hand, resources are a constraint in ainformal relationships across different parts in and fewer SMEs struggle to embed business smaller business. The challenge is that withthe business are typically stronger. partnering in the business. limited resources, the time you can spend developing your people into business partners is much more limited than compared to larger companies. Ultimately it’s an HR issue.”1 European Commission: SBA Fact Sheet 2010/11 Business partnering in an SME can be more natural because there are fewer people in the business so they need to interact much more with each other. André Oerlemans CFO, Weight Watchers Benelux32% of SMEs feel that wideracceptance of the businesspartnering is necessary toenable partnering to · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  16. 16. 16 BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP ACCEPTANCE INFLUENCE RESOURCES COMMUNICATION · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  17. 17. 17Business partnering in action:making it happenImplementing business Key barriers to forming an effective business partnering role within the finance teampartnering Difficulty finding candidates with right 28% experience 29%Implementing business partnering is tough.Almost half (45%) of businesses in Belgium Insufficient support from senior management 27%struggle with this, according to executives 25%surveyed for this report. Difficulties in finding 26% Insufficient resourcesthe right candidate are cited by more than a 24%quarter (28%) of Belgian executives as themain barrier for effective business partnering, Weak infrastructure or processes 25% 24%closely followed by insufficient support fromsenior management (27%) and insufficient Inaccurate or incomplete data 25%resources (26%). 25%Although skills shortages are a major part of Finance function lacks influence among 20%the problem, companies also face specific broader business 26%organisational, cultural and leadership Lack of skills and capabilities 17%challenges. Routine transactional work 20%can still take up valuable time that couldotherwise be spent on more value-added Organisational boundaries between functions 16%partnering. Many finance departments are 15%still geared to number-crunching activities. Demands of more traditional finance role 15%Others struggle with inadequate technology. 18%And some are constantly consumed withfire-fighting. Lack of standardised metrics 7% Belgium 9% All respondentsThe burden on the finance function hasbeen partially lifted by shared services,which take on many of the department’s Organisational changes that will be most important in order to enableroutine tasks. More needs to happen business partnering to flourishhere. When asked about the top threeorganisational changes that would be most Establishment or increased usage of shared 22%important to enable business partnering service centres to handle routine finance work 23%to flourish in their organisation, the largest Greater support for business partnering 19%number of respondents answered the concept among senior management 18%establishment, or increased use of, sharedservice centres (22%). These can be used Greater acceptance of the business 17%to handle commoditised finance tasks, such partnering role across functions 16%as accounts payable, accounts receivable 13% Investment in data and IT to ensure moreor payroll, removing this burden from effective analytics and decision support 15%core finance staff and enabling them toconcentrate on more value-adding activities. Increased budgets for finance to handle 12% additional work 8% Different incentive structures for finance 7% business partners 5% Decentralisation of business partnering role so that 5% finance professionals sit alongside functional heads 7%45% of Belgian executives Greater use of external consultants to drive change 4% Belgiumstruggle with implementingbusiness partnering 3% All · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  18. 18. 18Sending the right performance, then it’s very difficult to really interviewees note that if the business partner sell the value of business partnering to the is doing his job well, he will inevitably treadmessages broader business,” says AstraZeneca’s on toes. “The CFO and senior finance staff Mr Rourke. Nathalie de Wachter, a regional might not be the most popular people inChange is never easy, and internal resistance finance director at the same company, the business – particularly if they are doingto partnering can be strong. Nineteen per advises that “it’s important to make it very their job right – by stopping the companycent of Belgian respondents said that it clear what you expect not just from key from undertaking initiatives that are valuewould need greater support from senior business partners, but also from business destroying or too risky. The key is to bemanagement and 17% mentioned the need leaders”. She adds: “We have developed respected for understanding the businessfor greater acceptance of partnering in communication material to support this, and needs, but also for asking probing andthe organisation in order to be successful. we have established a network of finance challenging questions,” says Mr Plaschke.These results underline the importance of business partner champions in various partscommunication and persuasion, especially Nevertheless, as many interviewees are of the business to really drive our business-from senior management. Yet few firms also quick to note, if the finance department partnering vision forward.”do a good job of highlighting the positive partners in the right way, other departmentsbenefits of partnering. Only 2% of Belgian Greater clarity in accountability would help. will see it as adding value overall, despite anyrespondents said they were ‘very satisfied‘ Poor role and skills definition can result tensions.with the way their organisation articulated in blurred boundaries, duplicated activitythe benefits of partnering to managers, and poor service. Few companies, for Edwards’s Mr Smith notes that, “the bestthereby highlighting the need for ongoing example, approach their internal business- finance functions are able to do that in acommunication in this context. partnering activities with the same rigour as way that gains respect but, at the same when setting up the relevant service level time, really suggest ways to add value toClearly, better communication is crucial. “If the business. That’s how you gain respect agreements for external outsourcing orfinance business partnering isn’t positioned and essentially your views are sought after. shared service actually making a difference to the That’s the difference between a good financebusiness, whether that’s improving the quality Yet success is hard to measure. Few firms department and a weaker one.”of decision-making or optimising business think they have effective metrics. Many If finance business partnering isn‘t positioned as actually making a difference to ...., then it‘s very the business.... difficult to really sell the value of businessOnly 2% of Belgian executives partnering to thesaid they were ‘very satisfied‘with the way their organisation broader business.articulated the benefits ofpartnering to managers. Gary Rourke VP finance, · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  19. 19. 19 Company case study - AstraZeneca: Identifying finance business partnering capabilities In 2007, AstraZeneca began a journey The finance team also wanted to develop The finance team also identified a more to become the best finance function a clearer profile of the capabilities detailed set of required behaviours within in the pharmaceuticals industry. The required to be a business partner. “We each set of capabilities. “Take business company felt that it needed to become spent a lot of time thinking about this. acumen, for example, we identified four more effective and responsive to a more At the end of the day, we concluded key capabilities: to collectively identify dynamic environment with changing that the number one quality we want business strategy opportunity for joint customers’ needs - and at a lower from our business partners is passion – value; lead communication within the cost. Initial steps included outsourcing passion and desire to make a difference business in a compelling way; influencing transactional activity and centralising the to our customers,” she says. At the to achieve values driving changes; and specialist side of the finance function. same time, the firm also identified a build strong relationship with senior At the same time, they set a goal of set of capabilities bracketed into three actors in and outside the business. We developing the best finance-business categories: leadership capabilities, now have a very nuanced picture to partnering team in the industry in order partnering capabilities and business develop the business partner talent we to provide the highest quality business acumen. need,” says Ms de Wachter. support to their business. At the outset, Nathalie De Wachter, a regional finance director at the company, says they needed to clarify expectations about what they could achieve and to ....the number one quality make sure they had a clear definition about what business partnering meant. we want from our business “The definition that we could come up partners is passion – passion and with was to become the best in our industry at driving value for our customers desire to make a difference to and for shareholders. It’s a simple definition but it has allowed us to all to our customers. have a clear focus of where we needed Nathalie de Wachter to go,” she says. Regional Finance Director, · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  20. 20. 20ConclusionBusiness partnering this trend. More could be done to implement Successful business partnering also requires a more thorough business partnering model, a change in culture. Having the right skillshas become a key part helping organisations in Belgium to keep in the finance team is not enough – instead,of the landscape across pace with competitors across Europe. there needs to be a change in the perception of the finance function across the broaderEuropean companies, Taking the next step on the business business. Senior management support is in partnering journey will require companiesextending much needed in Belgium to have the right tools and this context also essential: managers must recognise the benefits of business partnering,financial rigour and capabilities in place. Talent will be a critical and invite finance executives to collaborate part of this, and many companies – not justinsight throughout the in Belgium but elsewhere worry that it is with them on addressing and analysing business challenges. Finance executivesbusiness; but no one difficult to find the right people with the right themselves must demonstrate to the business skills to develop a robust business partneringhas achieved optimal team. Part of the solution will lie in retraining that they possess the data and insights to provide valuable support – and that they areperformance yet. and reallocating work to shared service not just there to say no. As AstraZeneca’s providers, leaving core finance teams to Mr Rourke expresses it: “Often the financeOriginally developed in large corporates, develop the necessary skills. But recruitment partnering teams are the most valued partbusiness partnering has started to filter – both interim and full-time – will be crucial, of the business. Where it works, you’redown and is now being adopted by smaller particularly in the short term, to get on board welcomed with open arms. People want moreorganisations as well. This has been a the necessary expertise. of it, not less of it.”broadly positive trend, helping companiesto strengthen financial rigour and improvedecision-making, while also reducing the costand increasing the efficiency of handlingroutine transactions.But the extent to which business partneringis now embedded varies across Europe.Companies in Belgium are certainly on thejourney, but they are not at the forefront of Often the finance partnering teams are the most valued part of the business. Gary Rourke VP finance, · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  21. 21. 21 Business partnering Five steps to get you started 1 Define your 3 Perform a systems 5 Identify the objectives and process review right talent As every company is unique, defining Once the right talent is identified, it is Sourcing external talent for business what business partnering means to your essential that they have access to the partnering roles can be challenging. organisation and what the leadership necessary information and reports that Hiring managers therefore need to aims to achieve is the first step to an will allow them to provide added value. critically examine candidates’ previous effective implementation. Changing for Understanding each department’s experience and how they have gained the sake of changing is not an option – objectives and providing data to support commercial insights with their previous it is essential to establish specific key initiatives and goals will help bridge employer. Look for candidates with inter-departmental objectives that the gap between finance and the rest of strong data manipulation, financial align with overall business strategy. the business. analysis and controlling expertise, along with effective interpersonal and 2 Conduct a 4 Engage a temporary communication skills. skills audit solution In the interview, consider situational and competency-based scenarios. Assess the competencies that already An interim manager can help your Asking how the candidate would explain exist in-house, establishing which team company manage the transformation technical accounting to a non-financial members bring not only the requisite to a business partnering environment audience will help assess their ability to technical and soft skills, but also the or assist with its ongoing execution. work with various departmental teams. business acumen and communication Temporary staff can also mentor Furthermore, providing candidates a proficiency necessary to partner with employees or help manage the backlog case study example of how finance can other business units. Understanding of the day-to-day work while the partner with the IT or HR department your internal client and their aims for initiative is underway. Our Robert Half will help determine their ability to think business partnering will serve as a road Management Resources consultants quickly and strategically, while observing map for the finance team. Developing work with companies to help determine their step-by-step approach to the your talent through mentorship the scope and desired outcome of the situation. programmes, professional development project while identifying senior experts and leadership training can help identify with the right skills and experience those potential business partners you for a successful business partnering may have overlooked. · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  22. 22. 22AcknowledgementsWe would like to thank André Oerlemans Gary Rourke CFO, Weight Watchers VP Finance, AstraZeneca (UK)the following Belgian Benelux (the Netherlands) Michel Alléand European Antoine Bayon de Noyer CFO, SNCB and Finance Professorinterviewees for CFO, Carlson Wagonlit Travel Solvay Brussels School of Economics and ex-CFO for France (France) and Management (Belgium)their participation Antoine Grenier Nathalie de Wachterin this report: CFO, France, Altran (France) Regional Finance Director, AstraZeneca (UK) Byron Rader Former CFO, Microsoft France (France) Peter Simons Technical Specialist, CIMA (UK) David Smith CFO, Edwards (UK) Stuart Rollings Finance Director: Personal Current Accounts, Diederik Bossuyt Lloyds Banking (UK) VP and Group Controller Belgacom (Belgium) Thibault de Tersant EVP and CFO, Dassault Systèmes (France) Dr Joachim Jaeckle Corporate SVP: Financial Operations, Thierry Vernier Henkel (Germany) Vice President, Plan & Financial Control, Sanofi (France) Frank Plaschke Partner and Global Topic Leader: Wolfgang Zorn Office of the CFO, BCG (Germany) Area Controller DACH, Avaya Deutschland GmbH (Germany) · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  23. 23. 23 Our specialised services Robert Half Management Resources Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of highly-skilled senior-level managers on a temporary basis. Robert Half Finance & Accounting Robert Half Finance & Accounting specialises in the placement of highly-skilled accounting and finance professionals on a permanent basis. Accountemps Accountemps is a leading provider of highly-skilled accounting and finance professionals on a temporary basis. Robert Half Financial Services Robert Half Financial Services specialises in placing high calibre finance and banking operations professionals on a temporary and permanent basis into the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors. Robert Half Legal Robert Half Legal specialises in placing high level legal professionals on a permanent basis. OfficeTeam OfficeTeam specialises in the placement of highly- skilled administrative and office support professionals on a temporary · Business partnering | Optimising corporate performance
  24. 24. About Robert Half Management ResourcesRobert Half Management Resources is a division of Robert Half, the world’sfirst and largest specialised recruitment company, providing senior-level interimmanagers to companies that need multi-layered skill sets and specialised expertisethroughout the organisation. As a division of Robert Half, we have more than 60years of experience in specialised staffing, which enables us to provide the highestquality service to clients and candidates.To learn more about how we’ve helped local businesses like yours, please requesta case study or interim management profile from your consultant today or contactus at with us at Robert Half© 2013 Robert Half. An Equal Opportunities Employer. MR-BE-0113-2598R.E.: Frédérique Bruggeman / A. Gossetlaan 28A b7 / 1702 Groot-BijgaardenVG453/BUO - W.INT.030 - W.RS.30 - Recognition Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest: B-AA04.037