We begin with the obvious: team cohesion is decisive in whether an organisation succeeds. The finance function should critically challenge to what extent it adds to this cohesion. Are we intelligently weaving ourselves into the fabric of our organisations? With real buy-in from our colleagues, we can drive the positive change we seek
The traditional accountant is likely to designate finance as the beating heart of an organisation. There remains however the rebuttable presumption (cue IFRS jargon) that our non-number-crunching colleagues will beg to differ.
Experience has taught me that the finance team is frequently perceived as a burden (or dare I say villain …): an unavoidable, oftentimes incomprehensible cost. But the fruits of our labour can and should be both relevant and decipherable to those who are not debit-credit literate.
How do we achieve this?
Accounting knowledge within an organisation usually varies greatly. This should be gauged, and communication customised accordingly. Your audience will quickly switch off if they are bombarded with concepts they do not understand. This concept remains easily overlooked when it comes to specialised areas with the potential for jargon overload. Understand what your colleagues know, don’t know and what they need to know.
Accounting is a social science. We can emphasise how our work evolves as the needs of stakeholders change. World events such as the 2008 financial crisis or the Enron scandal led to direct changes in financial reporting. We are now also seeing many initiatives which clarify how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affects how we report. What we do is not rigid: it is dynamic and responsive to ever-changing circumstances.
Our role is to deliver financial information which assists organisations in their decision making. Any given stakeholder within an organisation will at some stage require information from the finance team, for instance accurately valuing a brand for the marketing team or assisting HR in devising an effective performance incentive scheme. We integrate and endear ourselves by demonstrating our relevance to any given department.
Accounting is a living, breathing discipline. We are able to adapt our expertise, thereby engaging with the culture, character and requirements of the organisation … and in so doing we become a collegial friend rather than a foe.
Daniel Lutrin is the Managing Partner of Audit Firm Lutrin & Associates based in Sandton