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The Components of a Finance Team

Finance is a Core Function.

Spending 15 minutes searching online "business core functions" will return that “Finance” will be on the list. Try it….

Any business (large, small or in between) MUST have a Finance function to be successful.

The most concise academic view of a business’s core function probably comes from Peter Drucker, who said

"Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only two--basic functions: marketing and innovation.”

I say that there are 3.

After those 2, comes “Operations”, which comprises the rest of the business necessary to support the 2 basic ones. Within that broad function, Accounting, Finance and HR will always be on the list, regardless of size, industry, or business model. Of course as the business grows, and depending on the innovative offering the business wants to share with the world, many other functions will live inside that broad category of Operations.

So, to be successful, every ambitious business owner or leader must consider Finance from the outset.

The Mission, Vision, and Plan for the business will dictate what its needs for Finance will be. 

Where it’s at on this journey will determine the tools and skills it requires. 

Timing is key. 

  • Too soon and the business is burdened with costs that are deployed inefficiently. 
  • Too late and Operations will put innovation and marketing at risk.

Tools to invest in

In the 40 years I’ve practiced as a Finance-focused consultant, I’ve witnessed with amazement and enthusiasm the explosion of innovation in the technology world, all of which has allowed me, and all other Finance professionals, the ability to provide more of this core function to businesses sooner, more efficiently, and best yet with significantly great value for cost.

There are many articles written about what these tools are, so I won’t restate them here. Processing power of hardware, the Internet, wifi, cloud-born applications, and now AI, pretty much brings the cost of experienced finance professionals to an affordable level for any serious business owner. The finance professional we’re speaking of has the responsibility to be tech-savvy for this to happen, so be sure to put that beside their experience at the top of your list of qualifications when choosing folks to fulfill your Finance needs.

Categories of Finance Roles

Now that we’ve established that Finance is one of the 3 Core Functions for any successful business. Let’s talk about the sub-functions that comprise this area of specialized skills. I've used familiar terms that are easily searched and created a finance function list of roles, job descriptions, and capabilities for each to help you plan your needs to match your plan. 

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

  • Working with executive team to guide the organization’s financial decisions
  • Provide strategic management of the accounting and finance functions
  • Direct accounting policies, procedures and internal controls
  • Recommend improvements to ensure the integrity of a company’s financial information
  • Manage or oversee the relationship with independent accountant or auditor
  • Collaborate with others in the business on technology decisions
  • Oversee financial systems implementations and upgrades
  • Manage relationships with bankers, investors and other capital providers
  • Identify and manage business risks and insurance requirements
  • Hire, train and retain skilled accounting and finance staff


  • Hire, train and retain skilled accounting and finance staff
  • Oversee the organization’s daily accounting functions
  • Manage the accounting, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable departments
  • Work with executive team to guide the organization’s financial decisions
  • Communicate regularly with (and often reporting to) the CFO
  • Coordinate and prepare internal and external financial statements
  • Coordinate activities of external auditors
  • Manage the budget process
  • Assess current accounting operations, offeri recommendations for improvement and implement new processes
  • Develop and monitor financial performance metrics
  • Oversee regulatory reporting, frequently including tax planning and compliance
  • Hire, train and retain accounting staff


  • Verify, allocate, post and reconcile accounts payable and receivable
  • Produce error-free accounting reports and present their results
  • Analyze financial information and summarizing financial status  


  • Record day to day financial transactions and completing the posting process
  • Verify that transactions are recorded in the correct day book, suppliers ledger, customer ledger and general ledger
  • Bring the books to the trial balance stage


  • Liaise with senior management, heads of departments and other key leadership figures.
  • Prepare financial and strategic plans for individual departments and the wider organization.
  • Build annual budgets and forecasts for different business units and consolidate into one master budget.
  • Analyze past financial performance, prepare competitor analysis, and examine market trends along with commentary for management.
  • Create financial models to predict growth and forecast performance.
  • Analyze previous budgets and forecasts and performe variance analysis to explain discrepancies.
  • Evaluate new and existing projects, investments, and assets to determine their validity and appraise their value.
  • Recommend improvements and use of financing structures such as debt and equity when appropriate. 


These skills are often provided periodically as needed and managed by the Finance functional leader:

  • Proven experience in their specialty area (i.e. Tax Accountant, Tax Analyst, etc).
  • Research tax laws.
  • Gather information and explain options for best practice to clients.
  • Prepare quarterly and annual tax compliance.
  • Prepare federal and, where applicable provincial income tax.
  • Ensure that tax returns are filed in accordance with tax authorities.
  • Computer literacy in accounting and tax software.

Project Manager

  • Coordinate internal resources and third parties/vendors for the flawless execution of projects.
  • Ensure that all projects are delivered on-time, within scope and within budget.
  • Developing project scopes and objectives, involving all relevant stakeholders and ensuring technical feasibility.
  • Ensure resource availability and allocation.
  • Develop a detailed project plan to track progress.
  • Use appropriate verification techniques to manage changes in project scope, schedule and costs.
  • Measure project performance using appropriate systems, tools and techniques.
  • Report and escalate to management as needed.
  • Manage the relationship with the client and all stakeholders.
  • Perform risk management to minimize project risks.
  • Establish and maintain relationships with third parties/vendors.
  • Create and maintain comprehensive project documentation.

Cross-Trained and Tech-Savvy are "Must Haves"

Depending on a business' needs, any or all of these can be provided, either in an ongoing manner, or for defined periods of time. This list is all encompassing. In the early years of a business’s growth, the skills can overlap and be provided by fewer people. It’s important that they have the capabilities to perform the duties however.

My experience tells me that you start with one senior person (CFO or Controller) and one bookkeeping person, both of whom are technically trained, experienced, and tech-savvy. With today’s tools at their disposal, including those that enable the skills to be delivered fractionally, that senior person must be willing and able to provide all the other skills needed that the bookkeeper can’t. It would then be a key responsibility of the senior person to manage the capacities of the Finance function to meet its mandates at cost levels that make sense for the business.