Has ‘Shadow Finance’ Stolen Your Spotlight?

As a finance professional, I’m sure you value your position as a ‘finance partner’ at the business management table. You thrive on helping with their business decisions, providing input, advice and challenge where appropriate.

But what happens when you start getting pushed out from all the important decisions and become just the ‘finance information provider’?

When it becomes less about what you think and more about what data you can provide?

When your contribution no longer includes the sound analysis, opinions and recommendations that you are so clearly qualified to provide?

It could be because a ‘Shadow Finance’ team has arrived on the scene.

Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with the term in your business. Shadow Finance teams come under many names, including Performance Management, Business Analysis or Business Services. Essentially it is any ‘pseudo Finance team’ that provides insightful business analysis to the business decision makers.

With the growth in data analytics the number of potential Shadow Finance teams emerging in big companies is growing rapidly. Whilst it can be an indicator of good business analysis and insight, unfortunately their very existence is a leading indicator that Finance is not adding enough value to the business.

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for having specific teams in place to provide detailed analysis on areas such as customer insight or marketing analysis. However, in many cases these Shadow Finance teams end up positioning themselves very snugly in-between Finance and the business leaders, preventing Finance from stepping up to play that all important business partnering role.

“You provide the financial information to us and we’ll combine it with the operational information and take it to the business management team”

If you hear these words from a Shadow Finance team, BEWARE!

You have just been relegated to the role of ‘information provider’ and they are firmly on track to take your place at the management team table! If you only work through an intermediary, you will never claim your seat as a business partner and they will look elsewhere for help with making their business decisions.

So what can you do to prevent being relegated to the role of ‘information provider’?

The answer is to take the high ground.

Position yourself as an indispensable partner to the business leadership team, helping them with their most valuable business decisions, irrespective of where the data comes from or who produces it.

Actively demonstrate the broad value you can bring to the discussions through your advice and challenge. This will help remind business leaders of the value you bring to the table, and help to keep you present during important decision making.

So Ask Yourself:

  1. Are you aware of the Shadow Finance teams in your organisation and what their core purpose is?
  2. Is Finance positioning itself as the partner to the business or getting squeezed out to be just an information provider?



Adrian Willmott,
Managing Director
e: adrian.willmott@arcusc.com
t: +44 (0) 207 608 5096

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