|Five tips for better business writing
Finance can demonstrate its value with more thought-provoking communication.
January 9, 2014
Accounting and other financial personnel are often hired for technical expertise, quantitative training, and the detail-oriented skill set with which they perform work processes. A lack of effective communication can often lead to lost value, misinterpreted messages, and decreased productivity. Accounting and functional finance groups are being asked to provide assistance and expertise for an increasing number of corporate initiatives. This can represent wide-ranging opportunities for professionals willing and able to embrace the changing role of the corporate finance function from reporting to one of business partner.
While meeting face to face is often the best way to ensure clear communication, with phone conversations and virtual meetings coming close behind, written communication is sometimes the most viable option. Because of time differences, conflicting work schedules, or personal preferences, email and memos still play a prominent role in corporate culture. A lack of effective communication can lead to increasing unwillingness of other departments to include the finance function, which can deprive the company of the insights that would have been provided by finance personnel while simultaneously marginalizing the finance function.
How can finance improve business writing and communication skills to deliver better value?
With the rising cost and complexity of financial regulation, taxation, and global business practices overall, finance professionals who are also able to succinctly communicate ideas to other departments are in demand. The ability to combine technical matters and concise writing will enable finance professionals to reaffirm the value they already provide to the firm. Here are five ways finance professionals can improve business writing:
A picture is a worth a thousand words, and the same could be said for numbers. Clear, concise, well-labeled examples of cost or time savings will draw the reader’s eye and reinforce the message. Example: The accrual initiative will save 10 hours per project, per month.
10 hours per month × 12 months = 120 hours
120 ÷ 24 = 5 days a year in time savings
Multiplied by 100 projects = 500 working days for value-adding initiatives
Finance professionals occupy a certain role in most organizations, one of gatekeeper, compliance enforcer, and quantitative analysis provider. There are many more ways that the finance function can help the firm develop new projects and continue to create value. The key is communicating the value, ideas, and strategies that the finance function can bring to the table.
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Sean Stein Smith, MBA, CPA, CMA, CGMA, is a senior accountant at United Water Inc. He assists in the preparation of financial statements and plays a role in process improvement initiatives.