A day in the life of a Finance Business Partner

Tuesday, 31 July, 2018

Chartered Accountants are often stereotyped as boring, tax-expert introverts who sit behind calculators all day crunching away at numbers. However, these stereotypes do not reflect the reality of what it’s like to be a Finance Business Partner (FBP) at Viapath.

Fundamentally my role as an FBP can be summarised  as “Support” and “Challenge”; I support the labs to achieve their operational goals and to understand their financial performance, and I challenge them to operate in a way that leads Viapath to achieve its overall organisational goals. In other words, I focus on adding value and I achieve this by working closely with other business areas, advising and supporting their strategic and operational decision-making through shared insights that drive improved business performance. 

Of course, no day is ever quite the same. One minute I can be chasing up an important delivery or a payment to make sure the lab can continue to run smoothly, and the next minute strategising on joint efficiency savings with our Partners. But here’s a flavour of a typical day in the Viapath Finance Business Partnering Team:

8am – Cycle, catch-up & coffee: Cycle into the office, catch-up with my immediate colleagues to understand their priorities and, of course a double espresso is a must to start each day.

8:30am – New test costing exercise: In response to customer demand, our Clinical Scientists have developed an improved rapid testing methodology which I need to understand in order to cost and price effectively. I’ll need to recommend the price we should charge to make sure we cover all of the costs we’ll incur in running the test (people, consumables, controls, quality, etc.) as well as offering the best price possible to our customers. It’s common for there to be uncertainty over demand for a new test and, amongst other things, the number of tests in a batch can significantly affect the cost, so it’s one of my most interesting challenges. Our operational teams are continuously innovating, and it is rewarding to assist them in expanding their test repertoire to meet our clients’ and patient’s needs, whilst also ensuring the strong financial growth that supports, for example, investment in new laboratory equipment.

9:30am - Finalise training slides for an upcoming “Finance for Non-Finance Managers” workshop: The Finance team contributes to the in-house Viapath Way and Management training programs by delivering a finance course for non-finance managers. As a finance professional, my technical skills and experience are important, but as an FBP, what’s key is my ability to translate complex financial issues to my non-finance colleagues. What’s equally important is then how I assimilate the business knowledge I learn every day in the labs, from my scientific colleagues, back into the numbers. It’s a virtuous cycle of collaborative working that builds trust and supports stronger working relationships between me and my colleagues, and enables us all to succeed together.

10:30am – Half year forecast review meeting: We regularly review our financial performance against targets that we set. Whilst it’s key to understand what has already happened, FBP’s are always looking forwards too. Through our financial analysis we can facilitate change to ensure key operational, commercial and financial targets are delivered. As a result, this enables Senior Management to confidently make important decisions that impact and grow our business based on robust and accurate information. 

12pm – Travel from Viapath’s central HQ to King’s College Hospital (KCH) where one of our five hospital-based sites are situated. As an adopted South Londoner myself, this also provides an opportunity to sample some of the best local West Indian food I’ve experienced since moving to London. 

1pm – Core customer meeting: I’m also responsible for managing the financial aspects of the relationship with KCH, my core customer. I regularly meet my counterparts there to discuss our commercial arrangements, resolve outstanding billing issues, ad hoc requests and generally discuss items of mutual benefit. 

3pm – Service line review: As part of the day-to-day operations, I meet with my Service Delivery Managers frequently during the month, but there are one or two formal meetings like this that are always in the diary. In this meeting we review the operational and financial performance of the lab; we discuss what’s happening, examine key performance indicators (KPIs) and their implications for the operation and finances, before planning how to resolve issues, cover potential risks or take advantage of opportunities.
5pm – Finalise Business Case for investment in new lab-based equipment: Linked to the development of new tests, our labs require investment in new technology which necessitates a full and robust financial appraisal. Whilst new business presents opportunities, it’s important that we assess the feasibility of every case and its associated risks whilst also facilitating collaboration across the various subject matter experts throughout our business (e.g. Clinical & Scientific, Procurement, IT and Business Change) who contribute towards making a compelling business proposition to our internal decision-makers.