Can’t I just hire a group of FBPs and get started?
Obviously, there’s not just one way to recruit or develop FBPs but let’s look at two dimensions. From within Finance vs. from the business and internally developed vs. externally recruited.
From within Finance: In my opinion, an FBP should be a fairly senior position in the finance function and not something you do right out of school. However, with all traditional finance tasks moving out of the frontline and nowhere to learn the basics of finance and accounting companies need to get used to taking in fairly junior people in FBP roles and training them from day 1. Ideally, you would have spent time in more traditional finance roles such as accountant, controller, and even finance manager prior to moving into an FBP role.
From the business: One of the most sought after traits when looking for FBPs is an understanding of the business which makes taking someone from the business into an FBP role a seemingly ideal fit. Typically you find two main challenges related to this 1) you might not be able to convince really good people to move from the business into Finance and 2) even if you are you will either only keep them for two-three years or you’ll be faced with the challenge that they need to obtain a finance degree for a long-term career in Finance. If you can accept those challenges and find effective ways of dealing with them then it’s an excellent choice to have some of your FBPs come from the business.
Internally developed: There’s a clear talent shortage when it comes to finding readymade FBPs (12 FBPs per posted job on LinkedIn vs. 40 for accountants and 59 for financial analysts) which stems mostly from the fact that most companies still aren’t that successful in their business partnering efforts. That also means that you often need to develop your FBPs yourself. To do this well you need to expose them heavily and often to the part of the business they support. Besides being part of all relevant meetings and being in charge of running the performance management cycle this might mean letting them spend two-three months as a sales rep or on the factory floor. Don’t expect them to be successful if they never get out in the business to smell the coffee!
Externally recruited: Now given the talent shortage it means that if you want to hire FBPs externally you’re going to pay big bucks for them. It’s really as simple as that. The companies that currently employ them have already invested heavily in their development and will not give up on these people easily. So if you want to hire them from the outside you should be prepared for a fight i.e. don’t bet on building your whole team like this.
To build a successful team you really need a good blend of all of the above and can’t just hire some FBPs to get you started. This means that you need a formal internal development program, a good perception of Finance internally to lure people from the business into becoming an FBP and great employer branding to attract outside talent.
Is it different from building any other team?
I think there are some dynamics that you need to be aware of when building a team of FBPs besides what you’re typically aware of when trying to build a team. The two main points I think are 1) you want people that are great at Finance (one function) and have a profound interest in the function they support (another function). The ability to apply a dual focus is difficult for anyone. 2) The talent shortage for these roles is not necessarily seen in all other functions although good people are always difficult to come by.
Have you ever tried to build a team of FBPs? What were your main challenges? Do you agree there’s a talent shortage of FBPs? Or perhaps as an FBP you’ve felt the talent war going on for you receiving multiple requests from recruiters or companies all wanting a piece of you? Regardless, I would be keen to hear from you and if nothing else I’ll very much appreciate your likes, comments, and shares! You can find them below and you can also click here to follow me on Twitter.