Beyond Financial Planning & Analysis, what makes a good Business Finance Consultant?

Sound judgement, good with numbers and knows their way around a spreadsheet.

These are the top answers I got when I asked my friends and colleagues what they thought made a good business finance consultant (in addition to the assumed financial planning and analysis (FP&A) skills).

However, business finance consultants go way beyond excel sheets and add real value to businesses by being both a financial advisor and strategic business partner . They are often critical to ensuring the growth and profitability that businesses are after.

What should a good Business Finance Consultant do?

Modern financial consultants not only help you understand your financial figures but also look beyond the spreadsheets and accounting numbers.

1. They get to know your business inside out. This is more important for small companies as they have their unique ways of operating. A financial business consultant gets an end-to-end view of the business and understands the key drivers, sales model and end objective of the business owner.

2. The role of a modern financial business consultant has evolved to be a mentor as financial decision making is often complicated, and business users appreciate advice and support. This is where the financial advisor takes the role of a mentor by explaining the implications of various actions based on a business’s financial situation.  Often, knowing you are in control of your numbers gives you the mental peace to carry on with your plans confidently.

3. They can help you focus on your goals and encourage you to take actions that will yield results. A FP&A consultant can look beyond just accounting numbers and analyse if the company performance is in line with business goals. They can help establish key performance indicators. These help you measure progress and ensure you are prioritising actions that are moving you towards your ultimate financial goals.

4. Provide projections and forecasts so you can plan for growth. If your business is growing, it is the right time to get control of your numbers and have a financial consultant suggest if there is any exposure to risks, identify opportunities for cost savings and investments.

5. Able to see your life’s big picture. Although financial consultants draw a clear line between managing personal finances and business entities, for most small businesses, their own life is not entirely separate from their company. Often, business goals are tied to personal goals and a financial consultant who understands the overlap can provide better advice on where to invest, help with the growth or even exit strategy.

How does a good Financial Consultant measure success?

After you have employed a financial consultant, you should have the following improved outputs:

1. Understanding the numbers – You should now have a firm grasp on your company financials and be able to understand all aspects of  the financial reporting.

2. A plan for improved profitability –With an improved understanding of your numbers you should be able to create a plan to improve efficiency and profitability that is both relatable and workable.

3. A clear strategy for the future – as well as a short term plan you should have created a longer term strategy complete with a flexible financial model to meet all your future goals.

4. Improved clarity on where to focus your time and resources.

Conclusion

If you are a business owner unsure of your numbers, don’t walk through unknown financial processes and paths without help.  Consider using a good Business Finance Consultant and ensure that they will meet all your requirements by using the check list above.