• Alena Bennett

What finance leaders want...and what they really need

What finance leaders want I recently shared on LinkedIn the results of the CA ANZ Remuneration Survey along with the Acuity article, "What CAs really want". The key themes that emerged when I read the results included:

  • Choice, and importantly, everyone's definition of ‘balance’ that dictates their choices is different. 

  • The dollars are important but it's not the only thing.

  • Flexibility at work is unevenly distributed across the industry and across demographics

  • Education and learning is highly valued by Chartered Accountants when they are seeking job opportunities.

Is that realistic at the moment? What do you think? Our current reality is that we're about to go into a time that is traditionally the busiest time of year for many finance professionals - 30 June year-end crunch time - with the overlay of a pandemic that has unequivocally changed the way we have to do our work. What finance leaders need During crunch times, we tend to focus on our immediate needs to ensure we have the foundations to satisfy our future desires. We attempt to balance our short term reality with our long term needs. It’s a little bit like flying the plane at the same time you’re building it. Right now, finance leaders need to help their businesses get through this difficult time. COVID has had an impact on the financial reporting and auditing aspects of the job. It's had an impact on the financial position and performance of the company and it's become our responsibility to bear the brunt and stress of the bad news, put through the redundancy provisions, and perform reforecast after reforecast. If this is also your financial year-end, you know it's always hard, there's always the implementation of new accounting and auditing standards. Combined with unexpected issues that always arise, each year is a struggle to get through the year-end without incurring audit overruns.



Credit: James the Scribe


You need engagement and collaborative action within our teams and with our stakeholders. With every member of the team and our stakeholders working remotely, it’s a whole new ball game. Let’s face it: it’s hard enough to get time and attention with the execs in the company even when you're in the office!


So whilst there are lots of current challenges for you to develop tactics and take actions to address, you might have sitting in the back of your mind, "Am I cut out for this? How will this reflect on me as a leader?" You want to be a successful leader, but it's a hard gig right now!


How do you lead effectively, in spite of the challenges?


What I'm seeing is that previously high functioning, or high performing finance teams are suddenly becoming frayed at the edges and slip from being engaged, proactive teams to being uncertain and reactive. And in the attempt to maintain quality (the ultimate non-negotiable for finance teams), they become inefficient, and therefore expensive, at a time costs need to remain at a minimum.


The solution: a more effective approach to your finance team


What finance leaders really need is for their teams to pull together and operate better than they ever have before. In a time of physical disparity, they need to be cohesive and use each other to drive innovative ways to continue to deliver quality results, efficiently.


Because whilst we need to navigate through these challenging times, impactful finance leadership is an imperative as focus continues to be placed on the role of finance as strategic leaders of the business to drive result. Finance needs to deliver BAU now and be able to contribute to future value and growth for the company in FY21 and beyond.


The solution is in the composition of your finance team:

  • Is your team filled with natural ‘leaders’ or ‘doers’? Are they great at doing the work, but perhaps at the expense of client relationship, or are they great at the communication piece but struggle to deliver?

  • How would you classify each of your team: high potential or high performing? Neither? 


Knowing the type of people in your finance team inform the activity that you need to do in order to get them performing at their best.


We know that diversity is the key to high performance and true team cohesion. But that creates challenges for finance leaders, as it means you need to cater to the different needs within your team, which can be tiring and time consuming. It can also be costly, especially if you focus on the wrong areas.


The approach you need to take depends on the type of professionals you have in your team.


The composition of your team should include 4 types of finance professionals. There will be those that you need to:

  • Educate: give them the information they need to identify where they can create value within the team.

  • Elevate: give them the platform to lead your team to success. 

  • Leverage their expertise: give them the confidence they need to share their knowledge across the function.

  • Provide exposure: give them the visibility of what’s possible in terms of delivering value within the team.

If you know the type of finance professionals you have in your team, you can focus on your energy and effort on the actions that will result in you developing a finance team that contributes to your company's growth and your reputation.


Want to know what you need to do with your finance team?


You might now be trying to work out how this applies to your finance team. 


If you want to learn more about the 12 detailed activities that you need to do with your team now, join me next Thursday at 2pm, where I'll be hosting a webinar to take you through it.


Can’t make that time? Register anyway, and I will send you the recording and the resource deck. If you think this will help any of your peers, please feel free to share this with them.


In the webinar:

  • I’ll be sharing with you in greater detail what is going on with audit teams now and why you need focus on your team now before you start your 30 June year-end. 

  • I’ll give you the framework to help you determine the types of finance professionals your team is comprised of

  • I’ll tell you the things you need to do to help bring out the best in your team, so they’re in peak performance come 1 July


Join me for the session that will dramatically shift the way you deliver value through your finance team.

​© 2020 Alena Bennett Pty Ltd.

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