Whilst there are still very few books out there on Finance Business Partnering and Finance Mentoring there are so many others available that detail the broader trends and business skills necessary to be a successful finance business partner. So where does an aspiring finance professionals begin their search for knowledge? Here are 5 books I consider as the best bang for your buck to start with.
Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation by James McQuivey (Author) (UK&I link)
As Finance professionals we are not immune to being disrupted with recent research from Oxford University suggesting 54 % of finance jobs are at risk of automation, the highest of any other skilled profession. And as some of our #SITN show mentors have mentioned we need to “Disrupt or Be Disrupted.” This book can help us assess our readiness to be disruptive and lays out 3 steps to become disruptors by: 1. Identifying the right mindset to take risks, as well as investing as cheaply as possible to build on existing platforms to find the fastest path to solving a customer’s problem; 2. Seek the “adjacent possible”—the space just next to our function where new technology (like RPA, data visualisation, machine learning) creates opportunities for us; and 3. Disrupt ourselves by using these tools to make parts of your work obsolete before your other departments or competitors do.
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock (Author) (UK&I link).
If the previous recommendation was about the world being less human this next recommendation is about us as finance professionals being more mindful of being human and what this means. During our workdays we’ve a lot of information fired at us, even boarding on being overwhelmed, and sometimes at the end of those days when we’ve a quiet moment for reflection we may end up thinking why did we say that or do that thing, which in hindsight we would not have said or done. In this book the author starts each chapter as an Act as if on a stage where of a modern two-career couple make mistakes because they have not tapped into how their brain works. The author then introduces the neuroscience concepts behind how our brains work so that the actors and us can better mentally organize, prioritize, remember, and process our jobs, all very much applicable to our lives as finance professionals, before at the end of the chapter bringing the actors back onto the stage to repeat the previous act more successfully now that they are armed with this new knowledge.
Flawless Consulting, Enhanced Edition: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used 3rd Edition by Peter Block (Author) (UK&I link).
As finance professionals we’re often tasked with asking the difficult questions whilst also establishing a constructive and consultative environment to enhance the chances our organisations will have sustained financial success. However, our training rarely prepares us for some of the challenges we face in these fast changing times and this book gives excellent practical guidance on how to ask better questions, deal with difficult clients & colleagues, how to work in an increasingly virtual world, how to cope with complexities in international consulting, as well as a number of real life case studies, guidelines on implementation, and illustrative examples & exercises to help us cement the tools and techniques covered.
To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others by Dan Pink (UK&I link).
Sales is often a dirty word for accountants and finance professionals, however we’re all in sales now, whether we’re pitching ideas to colleagues, asking for pay rises, or getting our kids to go to bed. In this book Dan Pink analyses various scientific research and stories to show that sales isn’t what it used to be. Then he provides a set of practical tools, tips, and exercises for succeeding with such skills that we could usefully apply, even as finance professionals, including six new ways to pitch your idea, three ways to understand another’s perspective, five frames that can make your message clearer as finance professionals.
Create value as a Finance Business Partner: Transforming the finance function into a profit centre by Bo Foged (Author), Anders Liu-Lindberg (Author), Henriette Fynsk (Author), Andrew Codd (Editor) (UK&I link).
This is more an investment than a book because it gives a complete guide including the practical tools and examples on how to become an invaluable partner for the business. It all starts with understanding the business partner mindset to then viewing colleagues and managers throughout the company as customers whom must be serviced. The book then describes how to collect, connect and convey value-added advice to support better decision making so that as finance professionals we are no longer seen simply as an expense overhead, rather instead, as visible value creators who solve meaningful problems for our organisations and share in the impact of the decisions we support.
So what book would you recommend that has REALLY helped improve your finance mentoring skills? Is there one you would gift to a younger version of yourself? Let’s all contribute to make this a go-to resource for aspiring finance business partners so please like or add your comments below.
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The author Andrew Codd is the producer of the Strength in the Numbers Podcast which aims to create more influential finance professionals who solve meaningful problems for their organisations and in return have fun, rewarding and successful careers in finance. We achieve this by interviewing other real finance practitioners to break down their hard won lessons and deconstruct their practical methods that work on the job and which you won’t typically find in textbooks or exams.