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FinNext 2019: Building a Top-Performing, Global FP&A Team

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 2/1/2019

FinNext 2019: Building a Global FP&A TeamIt’s not easy to build a high-performing FP&A team that operates on a global scale. Here’s what FP&A can do to structure an effective analytical team that operates internationally.

It’s not easy to build a high-performing FP&A team that operates on a global scale. It requires a knowledge not only of FP&A, but also of the various cultures of the areas where your team members will operate. At FinNext2019, Antonio Morales, consulting partner with SLKone LLC, will lead a session that will show you how you can structure an effective analytical team that operates internationally.

“My session centers on how to build a team, and the specifics around what you can do differently to earn the trust and manage the team more effectively,” Morales said.

The session is based around three key principles:

  • In business, you have to build trust. Trust is a critical element of any business transaction or interaction.
  • There are no perfect people, only perfect teams. No one is infallible. But if you have the right team members working together, then you can create a well-oiled machine.
  • Cultural differences imply different sets of values and different approaches. To be effective, a global team must take into consideration various cultural differences characteristic of the regions in which it operates.

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

The culture aspect is particularly significant. Morales has experience working in a number of different regions, including Latin America, Europe and Africa, and he has seen firsthand how manager/employee relationships can differ. “The relationship with the boss is very different in say, Latin America than in North America or Europe,” he said.

Therefore, Morales’ session will delve into a number of different studies on manager/employee relationships. He noted that a recent survey asked employees from different countries a variety of questions, such as whether they would help their managers paint their fence if they were asked. “It was very interesting to see the answers from a person in Canada or the U.S. versus a person from Bolivia or South Africa,” he said.

Communication can also differ greatly from region to region; different areas may have different definitions of “open communication” between the manager and the employee. “Some areas may seem more reserved,” Morales said. “It’s not that they don’t favor open communication, but you need to understand what is open communication for them and when a person is being reserved. Culture plays a lot into that as well.”

Communication styles will also vary substantially depending on the culture. “Abrasiveness and being too blunt is a key factor,” Morales said. “In North America and Europe, they tend to be very direct, whereas in Asia, they tend to be more subtle and indirect. So that’s something to keep in mind.”

Also, managers should be sensitive to the fact that employees from other regions may not grasp certain idioms and references that are native to the manager’s home country. For example, an American executive may make frequent references to American football. However, American football is not well-known outside of the United States. “If you’re talking to someone in Europe, maybe soccer would be a better reference than the NFL,” Morales said.

MANAGEMENT STYLES 

Although many FP&A managers may strive to be very hands-on, that can be difficult when handling a global team. “The micromanagers tend to struggle a lot in these types of environment, especially when they’re dealing with remote teams,” Morales said. “It’s very taxing for the team, but it’s also very taxing for the manager in terms of trying to get all of these insights, reports and metrics on how each team is doing.”

Therefore, Morales generally favors a more hands-off approach when managing a remote team. At the same time, he warns of the dangers of being too hands-off. “You have to trust people, but you also have to verify and keep controls—especially in the finance arena,” he said. “You have to keep in touch with everything that is happening and make sure that the numbers that come from your teams in remote places are very well understood.”

And while managers need to be cognizant of cultural differences, they also must make sure that they keep their cultural biases in check. “When you look at the individual, keep in mind that there is a cultural setting around,” Morales said. “But none of the biases you have as a manager necessarily apply to this individual.”

Don’t miss Antonio Morales’ session, Building a Top-Performing Global FP&A Team, at FinNext 2019, March 17-19 at the SLS Las Vegas. Register here.
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