Advice For Finance Professionals: Redefine Your Role As Gatekeeper

How efficient is your company at making sound investment decisions?

Finance is an incredibly important aspect of any business.  So important that many companies make the mistake of shielding it from daily operations & functional managers.  This leads to uncertainty, animosity, wasted time and resources as managers make investment requests that get denied.  By proactively teaching and integrating financial decision processes throughout the organization, Finance Professionals can redefine their role as gatekeeper, building a more efficient organization where more timely decisions are made with a higher likelihood of approval. Take a look at these tips to redefine your company’s financial gatekeeper.

Here is some advice for Finance Professionals…

Understand the needs of your organization, not just your boss.

Every area of the company spends money; decisions are being made every day.  Just because money is budgeted does not mean it is a good investment.  You can help everyday decision makers ensure their thought process is in line with company’s benefit in mind.  Learn the different areas of your organization, talk with people and explain to them what you look at verses what they look at.  Establish if there is something you can do to help them justify their spending, or pricing in the case of sales negotiations.

Create useful tools and ensure those who use them understand them.

Whether it is a capital equipment purchase, a contract price negotiation, an equity investment in a joint venture or preparing an operational budget, you have the ability to slow down the organization or make it run more efficiently.  As long as you create useful tools and properly train people to use them, you will be credited with making things run more efficiently.

Empower people in your company to do an analysis before they bring things to you.

It happens too often that finance professionals are blamed for sitting in their office, looking only at numbers and not understanding the business.  The reality is that the people you upset by saying no may not understand the requirements of the business.  This is your responsibility to train them in advance.  Become a partner to those who seek financial approvals.  If you proactively work with them, they will be more likely to seek out more justifiable approvals, they will know what the company is requiring and will be more likely to ask for your support to help them structure investments.  You are a gatekeeper, not a roadblock and it is your responsibility to provide this support to your organization.

Align yourself with Executive Leadership.

Understand the strategic plans of your executive team, and ensure that your services and messages to the workforce are aligned.

Proactively conduct external and internal research.

Know what is happening in your industry, how deals are being structured.  Do an analysis of pricing and costing structures and help determine how competitive your organization is in comparison.  Research and report economic trends.  Share your results throughout your organization and you will become a greater resource to the company.

Track your results.

How many capital expenditure requests were submitted vs. approved?  What are the statistics for all other aspects of your approvals?  This analysis will help guide you to the areas where you need to focus on training and providing better tools.


Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of

Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.

Strategic Consulting ǀ Management Consulting: Strategy Realized

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