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Barbour aims to cut to the chase.

The key question for finance departments is not how they can restructure or reorganise what they do--there are a million answers to that. John Barbour, founder of Corporate Value Improvement, a consultancy that aims to help businesses deliver superior shareholder returns, will tell delegates that finance departments should instead be considering where they can add value to the business.

"Companies are realising that they don't need a huge finance department and a highly remunerated finance director to be successful," he says. "If finance people are to survive, they are going to have to start showing their worth."

There are two key ways the finance department should do this, according to Barbour. First, they must find a way of delivering the department's outputs--the financial transaction processes, for example--at a lower cost. This can be achieved either through streamlining and making the internal service more effective and efficient or through outsourcing it to specialist operators.

Once this has been achieved, the finance department needs to develop as an internal consultant for the organisation, looking at strategic areas such as the impact of mergers and acquisitions, longer-term planning and investments.

"The challenge of becoming an efficient information machine while acting as a business partner to the board will be a major one for many finance departments," Barbour acknowledges. "But if they are successful their survival is guaranteed."

The business itself will be more successful as a result too, he says, so an integrated finance department, acting as an internal consultant, can truly help a firm to improve its value to shareholders.
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Title Annotation:Conference Round-Up; John Barbour
Publication:Financial Management (UK)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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