The Financial Strategist’s Manifesto 1.0 – A Proactive Way Forward

The Financial Strategist - New Era Management Services

Introduction

The underlying reason behind my Financial Strategist Manifesto 1.0, originally drafted in 2019, was to provide a guide to the benefits of finance re-emerging as the driving force in implementing business strategy.

With the benefit of practicing in strategic finance and lean management for more than three decades, financial trouble shooting, organisational sustainability and improved capacity have continued as my mainstream vocation since early 2000.

Let’s go back a step

One of the early lessons learnt by most business owners is be the dilemma of deciding what scale of operation am I comfortable with versus what scale of operation am I capable of achieving.

This assumption may be old news? Things are different now, technology means that we can take more short cuts, incur less extraneous costs, avoid compliance and governance stuff and just get on with it.

But this is a mistake as it means taking on an inordinate level of risk. There are benefits in exploding the myths that finance is that “thing” that is in peoples face and just wants to stop them from getting what they want out of their work!

The Benefits of an Enhanced Role for Finance

Finance must be across the costs and benefits of initiatives. Finance is your means to less waste, more engaged and competent people and greater integration to execute strategy.

Your financial service should be able to help you do all this whilst providing a return on your investment. This the case if finance does a lot of the intelligence gathering, detailed analysis, forecasting and reporting and it is backed in by the leader.

But finance must not be reactive and hard to deal with. And non-finance people must play their part, it is not a finance led dictatorship.

Many organisations develop or introduce new technologies, systems or processes to deliver operational efficiencies, improve service experience for customers or streamline staff touchpoints. But their effectiveness is mooted by poor uptake and poor integration within existing structures.

Adam Zuchetti, My Business, February ’19

For many organisations a practical option is to vest an improvement program with finance, at least in a co-ordinating role to drive the common denominators; $’s, KPI’s, scorecards as well as non-financial metrics etc.

The ability to measure success and set out the costs of a longer-term plan will inform scenarios and aid investment decisions. This will ensure that operational plans in turn inform the financial plan and the financial plan in turn informs future operational plans, this is the business improvement cycle.

  • 70% of employees are not engaged
  • Businesses with at least 80% engaged employees grow at a rate 6 times faster
  • Less than 10% of strategies are executed
  • Only 5% of employees understand the vision of the company and the strategy
  • 85% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month talking strategy
  • 70% of all change initiatives in businesses fail due to insufficient focus on people
  • 60% of how employees perceive their workplace climate can be traced to the actions of one person – the leader.

MAUS Business Systems (2012)

Your people will respond positively when they know more about what is expected of them and they have a sense of direction and ownership of the solution. And your opposition is probably not performing well in this area, however you know that already. Right?

A Practical Exercise

In order to reinforce the points made here I propose an exercise. Just take a few moments to answer the following foundation question.

Does your business see finance as a necessary evil or a value-add service that needs to be the absolute best that it can be?

Unsure of your answer? Are you somewhere in the middle of the continuum? Skeptical that finance can do any more than it is doing currently?

Moving your people on to the one page can be overwhelming. But modelling a role for finance to free up resources and sustain your competitive advantage is your non-negotiable. My 6 tips for moving your team along the continuum.

  • Get your people strategy right
  • Consider what elements of finance you should outsource and what elements you should insource
  • Model a role for finance in delivering your business strategy that has your backing and that of your people
  • Use a medium to long term financial strategy to drive business improvement
  • Vest an initial improvement program with finance, monitor results and learnings
  • Tick off each of the incremental results that confirm that you are moving towards your end target

Peter Smith

The Financial Strategist - New Era Management Services

CEO, founder of New Era Management Services and specialist lead for hundreds of successful finance and management projects Australia wide.

New Era Management Services works with owners and managers as a management and financial services troubleshooter. In addition to these once off services we offer the Your Business Success Program, One on One Coaching and Corporate Strategy. Our services: • will release the 10% of trapped revenue that you are giving away. • will provide a simple structure to implement your ideas. • will systemise your operations and help you get on to the CLOUD.

ASK ABOUT OUR FREE FINANCIAL TROUBLE SHOOTING STRATEGY SESSION

Call or email Peter Smith on 0427 841 096 or peter@neweramanagement.com.au

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