Episode #10

Elevating Finance Business Partnerships: Unlocking Their Potential

Finance business partnering (FBP) is how finance teams create value by providing data-led insights to help their business counterparts to make better decisions. In this insightful episode, join Andrew Jepson, the CEO of The FBP Team, as he imparts invaluable strategies and tactics to enhance FBP proficiency within your teams and enterprise.

"A lot of finance people start off with this sort of combative and brash style, which works in finance, but when you're working with non-finance and you want them to bring you into their world, a different style is required. We always say it's not what you do that makes a difference. It's the way you do it. So you want to be very focused on that. If people don't want to work with you, forget about it. You'll be left outside and that doesn't work. So finance business partnering is as simple as that. You're working with non-finance and you've got to be able to do it effectively."

Please note that the transcript is AI-generated and may contain errors. Podcast is not intended as advice and is meant for informational and entertainment purposes only.

Chris Ortega (00:16):

Today we are talking with Andrew Jepson, who’s the founder of thefbpteam.com, as he shares his thoughts on the difference between what gets you hired and what gets you promoted in finance, and why it’s important for finance professionals to be better influencers, better connections, and build an impactful relationship with non-finance professionals. Welcome Andrew Jepson.

Andrew Jepson (00:41):

Thanks for having me.

Chris Ortega (00:42):

Hey man, I’m really excited to announce our partnership. Fresh FP&A and the FBP team is partnering together to help empower, equip and enable finance professionals to be better communicators, to build better connections, and have better impact across the organization. And what better way to have this conversation? I think finance business partnership, and you’ll dive deep into this, has such a different viewpoint across the world, and I think it’s very different. I’m really excited to kick off this conversation. My first question for you, Jeps, is what is finance business partnership?

Andrew Jepson (01:15):

Finance business partner, it means different things to different people in the world, and there’s a lot of definitions out there. I nutted down to something pretty simple. It’s just finance people working effectively with non-finance. So it’s taking all of those technical skills that we develop as finance professionals and being able to translate that into a language and a communication style that works for non-finance because they don’t understand what the hell we’re talking about most of the time.


So we’ve got to be able to break it down in a way that works for them and also work effectively with them. A lot of finance people start off with this sort of combative and brash style, which works in finance, but when you’re working with non-finance and you want them to bring you into their world, a different style is required. We always say it’s not what you do that makes a difference, it’s the way you do it. So you want to be very focused on that. If people don’t want to work with you, forget about it, you’ll be left outside, and that doesn’t work. So finance business partnering is as simple as that. You’re working with non-finance and you’ve got to be able to do it effectively.

Chris Ortega (02:21):

Yeah. And I think that’s so important nowadays with the evolution that is happening in the office of the CFO and finance organizations. The baseline of what business and our business partners had expected out of finance before has significantly changed. And to me, I think that communication aspect of it is really important. But one of the great things I know about the FBP is you guys have an entire framework that you walk people because I think the biggest gap that people have and maybe some of the listeners, whether you’re in accounting, finance, FP&A or financial leadership, a lot of it is okay, Chris, this all sounds good, but what is the roadmap to get there? So can you talk a little bit about what the FBP team does in terms of that modular roadmap to start finance professionals to be this finance business partner of the future?

Andrew Jepson (03:09):

Yeah, sure. We try to address three main problems. So I’ve been working in this space for six or seven years now and I work with teams all the time. And there’s three main things that were here that were brought in to fix through our development programs. The first is this, I don’t have enough time. I don’t know what finance business partnering is. I can’t get a seat at the table and the people outside of finance that don’t want to work with me, how do I fix that? So we address that first. That’s the first main thing. If people don’t want to work with you, you’ve got to find it very hard to influence, persuade, communicate with them, all those sorts of things. So that’s the first thing and that generally comes down to actually understanding the mindset and the approach that you need to be a good finance business partner.


There’s also elements of the internal environment that you work with. So you might have systems problems, process problems, capability issues, all those sorts of things. You might have a culture that doesn’t lend itself toward it. You’ve got to get all that sorted, call it like a foundation for you to then [inaudible 00:04:13] off. So we have three parts to what we do. That’s our build parts. So we get all that right very quickly and we do that through a couple of workshops that help do that. So that’s build. You get the foundations right so that you’re able to actually do finance business partnering.


The second problem that we address is twofold. It is, I don’t have good relationships with the people side of finance and I don’t really understand the business. So you hear this a lot from non-finance people. The finance team just doesn’t understand the business. We address that by a couple of workshops that deal with that. So moving away from this, talking about financial outcomes, which is P&Ls, balance sheets, cash flows, all the stuff that we instinctively understand and look at all day every day. The business may not necessarily be looking at those things. They’re generally looking at the activities or the drivers that lead to those financial outcomes. And it’s that language that you want to be able to understand and you only get that by spending time with people and going out into the business and trying to understand those activities that lead to those financial outcomes. Once you know that, you then know the language of the business and you understand it and you’re able to be a conduit between things they’re doing and the numbers that they’re seeing in all those 200 page reports that we send them.

Chris Ortega (05:30):


Andrew Jepson (05:31):

And that’s your job. You’re that conduit and you’re able to talk in a language that is the language around the activities and the drivers rather than the language around the outcomes because people just see you and just go, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. That’s one thing.


The other thing is your relationships with people. How do you build strong relationships? Because if you have good relationships, people answer your questions, they give you the information that you want and sometimes the best of times they’ll bring information to you before you’ve even asked. And what that does is it just speeds everything up. There’s nothing worse in finance when you’re asking people questions or sending them emails and they’re not answering and you can’t get the stuff that you need to be able to do the job that you need to do. Poor relationships slows everything down. Good relationship speeds everything up and when you’ve got them, everything’s seamless.


The world where people are bringing you things and getting you involved is what you want. That’s good finance business partnering. A world where they’re closing the door in your face and locking you out, that’s not what you want. And you’ve got to invest some time in that. There’s a bit of time that has to be put into that. If you ask any sales person out there, how much time do you spend in relationship building with your customer? And they’ll say a lot because I want them to trust me and vice versa. And you’ve got to have that internally with your non-finance people. We call that our connect stage. So that’s the second stage. Building good relationships and understanding the organization. So we call that our connect stage. So we’ve got the first stage is the build, the second stage is the connect, and the third stage is being able to have impact.

Chris Ortega (07:03):


Andrew Jepson (07:04):

So, build connect impact is the model. The third stage addresses the problem of I have really poor communication skills. I’m unable to influence and persuade people and I’m not very good at presenting. So we address that. If you’re a good finance business partner, you’re going to be presenting a lot because you’re working on key core business problems and you’ve got to then distill that into either informally crafting a good message and a story or formally you’ll be up in front of people presenting. Now, presenting is a key skill because you’re often doing it with people at your level or people that are higher than you. It’s a bit of a career win if you do it well. But the opposite is also true. If you stuff it up, you can be in trouble. So you need to be good at the communicating your messaging. If you get that, you’ll be influencing and persuading people to go down the path that you want to go down.


And often in finance, it’s a path that people either don’t think about or it’s a hard path. To get the numbers right is a little bit more challenging. So you’ve got to be good at those skills. You’ve got to position things right, make things look like they’re a benefit to people and get them going down the way you want to do. And that all comes down to your style and as I said, the things that you say and the way that you position things. And that comes with, you’ve got to learn the skills and the techniques to do that. So that’s our third stage. That’s when you’ll be having impact. So you got to get the foundations right, you build that up, then you connect with people and you understand your organization and you understand the people in it and build good relationships. Then you’ve got to communicate it to them properly. Now those skills I never learned when I was becoming a finance person.

Chris Ortega (08:44):


Andrew Jepson (08:46):

This is where the business came out of is my own experience of learning the technical stuff and learning MPP calcs and discounted cash flows, IFRS. All those things, I learned them and for 10 years I applied them and I loved it. And I worked with finance people for predominantly my first 10 years of my career. When you then flip over and you’re working with non-finance, the skillset is completely different.

Chris Ortega (09:13):


Andrew Jepson (09:13):

Yeah. It’s a more softer human type skills that work. This combative, I’m in finance, I’m an authority, doesn’t lend itself to good partnership when you’re working with non-finance. And no one teaches you those skills until now. So that idea came out for me about six or seven years ago and ever since then I’ve been teaching the finance people propels their careers. That also has major benefit to the organization is that the finance agenda can get on the table and anyone’s ever worked in an organization, there’s not a situation where you’re not at some stage talking about your numbers. You need a good finance people to help you.

Chris Ortega (09:53):

I love that man. And I love how you broke it down because I think those are the core problems when you look at this mindset shift, that pain of the inability to communicate, right? I’ve seen some great finance professionals and I do a lot of thought leadership. I go across the world and I talk to finance people and I asked them that ability to be able to communicate to even not finance people. I asked them, hey, tell me about your business, which is one of the pains that you solve in understanding the business. And you’d be surprised, Jeps, how many VPs of finance, CFOs, director of FP&A, people that I ask and they’re like, Chris, what do you mean know the business? I do the debits and credits, I do the balance sheet reconciliations. And I’m like, if you can’t even communicate the business to another finance person that could quickly get up to speed, think about the gap that they have for non-finance people, which is not understanding the business and not being able to communicate it.


And then it’s always that pain of the recourse constraint of time where it’s man, I don’t know if I have the time, energy and effort and resources to dedicate it. And I sit there and my challenge to that is when are you going to have the time? Because this is what the business expects out of finance now. They don’t expect us to be calculators and the human calculators that go measure the business, they want us to communicate. And I think those three pain points that you addressed, man, 100% is a gap that a lot of finance people have and it doesn’t vary for a high growth businesses or enterprise level. This is a pain. These are the three common pains and problems and frustrations that non-finance people have with working with finance. Let’s go depth into one because one of the things that you talked about is the art of influencing. And I know that’s one of the modules that you cover in it. How important is it for finance people to have that influencing inside of their business partnership relationships and teams?

Andrew Jepson (11:51):

Critical. So it’s one of the most important things. And the reason why is because so often in finance you’re trying to get people to do things that they don’t or they don’t understand why it’s important. Okay, that’s a really tricky place to be. Think about someone who’s in internal audit or whatever you want, I don’t even know what they’re called these days. The people who go around telling everyone they’re doing everything wrong.

Chris Ortega (12:15):

The numbers spell checkers, the numbers checkers.

Andrew Jepson (12:17):

Those people. Finance business partnering skills can be massively beneficial for people in those roles. Why? Because they are going around the business telling people all the things they’re doing wrong and trying to get them to fix them and do them another way. Now, if you are on the other side of that, when an external auditor comes in and they do their audit and at the end of the audit, they give you that management report of all the recommendations and findings. Think of it this way, most of us in finance go, oh, when am I going to do that? And you just put it in the filing cabinet. And the next time you pull it out a week before the auditors are back the year later. You know how that feels when someone gives you a recommendation or sorts some things and you’re like, you don’t really know what we go through, so I’ll do that when I get to it.


That’s the same for non-finance when finance ask them to do things. So there’s a whole art and skillset around how do you position better so that they can see what’s in it for them? That’s the question that everyone asks themselves when someone asks them to do something is what’s in it for me?

Chris Ortega (13:22):


Andrew Jepson (13:23):

What’s in it for me? And if you don’t spend time actually trying to answer that question before you go and talk to them, then they will not see what’s in it for them and accordingly they won’t do it. That’s the one question. That’s the one question that you’ve just got to spend time doing it. Now, there’s some key techniques that you can use to answer that question. And then also when you go and talk to someone, how do you, as I said before, position things so that they’re a little bit more palatable? You just go in like most finance people with the velvet sledgehammer and just smash people across the shops and say, I need you. People go, yeah, that’s the problem. You need it. I don’t need it. Yeah, there’s there’s a whole art in that and it’s massive. If you do it well, as I said before, things move quickly and when things move quickly, that whole issue of I don’t have time tends to go away.

Chris Ortega (14:13):

Yeah. And I love that Jeps. And looking back over my career in leading high growth finance organizations and high growth businesses, this was, I think the art of influencing everything that you talked about was, this was the transitional moment for me when I realized that it was like I can be more than just the Excel warrior and the US gap and the IFRS knowledge. I think when I really learned the art of influencing, it’s when I didn’t care about being the smartest finance person in the room. That’s when I was like, you know what, I don’t care about being the smartest finance person anymore. I care about making an impact across the business and being that finance business partner that people want to work with. Not just the finance person where it’s just, oh, anytime Chris comes around, it’s going to be like the number police. He’s going to knock me across my head because I’m over budget, or he’s going to command me to do something.


That’s a pivotal point, and I see it so many times that a lot of finance people, they don’t know, okay, how do I even develop that skill? And I think the FBP team having a full resource around that to be able to help it is critical because that’s what we do now. We are the internal selling people to get things done across the business.

Andrew Jepson (15:30):

Your job as a finance business partner is to help people and solve business problems. That’s what your job is to do. Once you take that lens, your whole focus on the other person changes because I’m here to help people and solve business problems, which means I’ve got to work closely with people. The other side of it is you also shift yourself away from those 200 page reports and dashboards that we run, that we love and we think are helpful. You actually sit there and go, is that actually helping people and solving business problems? I don’t know. I don’t know. Is it?


But that question you’re now asking is a right question, and funnily enough, you’ll probably sit there and go, I spent an hour a month running this report that no one even looks at. Potentially not do that report anymore. Or I’ll do it differently. I’ll go and talk to someone and see how I can do it quicker and potentially differently. You touched on a point before the numbers release.

Chris Ortega (16:23):


Andrew Jepson (16:24):

One analogy and metaphor that I always give people is I ask them, have you ever been pulled over by the police? You’re sitting in your car and the police pull you over. How do you feel when you’re sitting in the car and the policeman’s coming over? You have this feeling nervous-

Chris Ortega (16:39):

Nervous, anxiety.

Andrew Jepson (16:40):

Nervousness, anxiety. Exactly. Nervousness, anxiety. It’s called fight, flight, freeze. And it’s a normal human response. You feel like you’ve done something wrong, you might be in trouble and you don’t really want to have a conversation with the police guy. You’ll only answer what he asks you because you’re nervous and you’re on edge. Guess what? That’s the exact same feeling that non-finance has when finance comes walking down the hallway to them, that’s exactly how they feel.

Chris Ortega (17:06):

Oh, wow.

Andrew Jepson (17:06):

They feel like they’re going to be interrogated or are going to ask questions. And some people might even just escape to the bathroom or the kitchen just to avoid those questions.

Chris Ortega (17:15):

They close their doors

Andrew Jepson (17:16):

Yeah, and just hide. That’s not what you want. That’s the opposite to what you want. So there’s mechanisms that you can use to fix that, but if you’re turning up and people on the front straight away are feeling anxious and nervous having you around, you’re never going to be good at finance business partnering. You actually need the opposite. You need them excited, or maybe not excited, but you need them wanting to have you there. They want you and they want to bring you in. And the best finance business partners in the world do this very well. The best I ever worked with, he would be sitting in his office, people were lining up at his door to talk to him and get him involved in things.

Chris Ortega (17:54):

Yeah, I think that’s critical, right? And you talk about a key differentiated, right? I think too many people, yeah, finance business partner, finance is in there, but it’s finance helping solve business problems. And I think too many times we get set in our ways, and I’ll tell all the listeners, I’ve been in this. It took me getting outside of finance, it took me really getting with commercial teams. It took me learning and having a lot of failures. Because everything that we’re talking about right now, Jeps, I didn’t learn this on the CPA exam, I didn’t learn this in my MBA class. You learn these things by getting in the business and taking that first step. And I think having a resource, having a full workshop, having resources, having time, having information and your expertise to be able to give these people, I think that’s the critical step.


And one of the other things I want to dive deeper into that I think is a gap as well, is just this commercial acumen, this understanding the business. We get so comfortable in our spreadsheets, in our monthly reporting, we get so comfortable in our PowerPoint presentations that we don’t get that connection and get outside of our comfort zone to go learn the business. So what would you recommend as a first step that if any one of the listeners want to take away to learn about increasing their commercial acumen, what would be your advice?

Andrew Jepson (19:18):

You learn by doing. I give this question all the time. I don’t have the confidence. I don’t have the confidence to whatever it is, present or go and talk to someone or go and spend time with them. And I say, think of something in your life that you are confident at it. How did you get confident at it? And they inevitably say, I did it a lot of times. And the more you do it, the more you get confident. Now, anyone in finance I say to you, the first thing you want to do is back your chair up and get away from your desk and get away from the spreadsheets and go and talk to people and just experience what they do. I used to sit in the car and go out with sales reps for a day and just see what they go through.


And when you think, oh no, God, this is a hard job, this sales rep job, it’s not until you actually go and see it that you think, no wonder they’re not thinking about the finance agenda front of mind. They’ve got their own issues. They’ll go out into the factory or go out onto a building site and just see what goes on. I used to work in construction and one of the project managers took me out once and I was like, his day is just not spent looking at P&Ls and financial information. His day is looking at the activities and the things that end up turning in those financial outcomes. And if you don’t understand those things and how they all weave together and affect each other, then you’ve got no hope. And you can’t see it on a spreadsheet. Spreadsheet’s a whole lot of data or a dashboard that makes the data look pretty.


And you’ve got to go out and see the things that are happening that there’s actual physical activities and things that people are doing that create those outcomes. And if you don’t know them, you’ve got no ability to be able to communicate to non-finance properly. First thing, don’t have your head in spreadsheets all the time. Actually go out into the business and see what the things people are doing, the activities, the drivers that are leading to those numbers. That’s the first thing. The more time you spend away from your desk, the better. It should be like the first KPI of finance business partnering, how much time are you spending at your desk? And it’s like the lower the number, the better.

Chris Ortega (21:20):

Nice. I like that.

Andrew Jepson (21:21):

Forces you out.

Chris Ortega (21:22):

I like that, man. And when I look back and that’s practical advice. Everything that you’re talking about, it echoes so well with me. And I think it’s so important for finance people to know these are transition moments that you have in your career, right?

Andrew Jepson (21:36):


Chris Ortega (21:37):

I love the build, connect and impact. I think that’s the stages of finance. When you are early in-

Andrew Jepson (21:44):

[inaudible 00:21:45].

Chris Ortega (21:45):

Yeah, when you’re early in your career, you’re building a lot of the things that, you’re trying to build a lot of, you’re building the financial models, you’re building-

Andrew Jepson (21:52):

[inaudible 00:21:53] and you’re building them up and-

Chris Ortega (21:55):

Yeah, and I think that’s the thing I love about this framework is it models you of how you progress in your career. Because you may build things and then you start connecting the dots at that middle phase. And then when you get later on and VP of finance and CFO or fractional CFO, you’re like, I’m all about impact. And I love how it module and provides that resources to be able to do that. Because when I look at it, right, some of the best conversations and best opportunities I’ve ever learned is for those people I just go sat in a meeting with people. I’m just like, hey, sales is having a sales forecasting call and they’re talking about pipeline. I’m just going to go join it. I’m just going to go join it.


And I love your first question you talked about. When I first started doing this in my career, people were like, what is finance? What is Chris doing here? Are we in trouble? Is like a police thing, they were like, oh my god, what is Chris doing here? Are we in trouble? And I would always come in the conversation and say, hey, I’m just joining this call because I want to learn how I can better serve you in the finance role. And as soon as I said that, Jeps, it completely de-neutralized the conversation. Now people were like, oh, Chris is just here so he can better understand us and he can better serve us and better support us. And it was like that’s how I left it. So to me, I think that’s one of your first things is getting outside. And depending upon if you’re hybrid, fully back to work, you can jump on a call and just say, I just want to sit, listen, observe, and see how I can better be a better servant to you and helping understand the business.

Andrew Jepson (23:25):

Deliberating question to ask your business partners is what are you working on at the moment? What’s keeping you up at night? What’s a problem in your world that if we could sort it out and solve it for you, would that help? And they’ll tell you some stuff and it’ll be operational. It won’t have anything to do with numbers. And your job, you’ll be sitting there going, that’s how that turns up in the figures.

Chris Ortega (23:50):


Andrew Jepson (23:51):

That is a liberating question. Once you start focusing on the other person’s issues and problems and solving them, you totally change things.

Chris Ortega (24:00):

Yeah, you said to that relationship. The thing I love about this program too is it’s all intertwined. And again, all these are things that when you look at the balanced spectrum of finance professionals. These are all qualitative things. I’ve never took an exam that said, hey, we’re going to measure your influencing skills or we’re going to measure how effective you are in your mindset shift to being a great finance business partner. So I think for me, these gaps are evident and I think it’s not, tell me a little bit about this. This isn’t a program where you got to sit and it is like benefits in eight to nine months. If you talk about the time to value of some of these core things that you talk about, what realistically can people expect to see value and impact that they make with taking some of these workshops?

Andrew Jepson (24:46):

Yeah, the value is almost instant. I was very lucky. COVID was very good to me. So what COVID did with my business is I’m a trainer and a facilitator. I’m essentially a finance guy, moved into education. I used to have a business that was 90% here in Sydney. For the listeners, you will pick up my strong thick Australian accent. So 90% of my time was face-to-face training people. Now, when you do that, especially when you’ve got a team that’s in different locations, what do you do? You fly your team in. We sit in a room for two days, inevitably a month later, you’ve forgotten 90% of what I’ve told you, and you probably only remember two or three things. What COVID did was instantly overnight everything went virtual and went online. Now, what that led to is that I can train anyone in the world anywhere, anytime.


The problem that you have is that virtual is a little bit clunky, it’s not as personal, it’s just not as nice and fun. It’s not as experiential. What you got to do is you got to shrink those. I’m not going to sit on a call for two days with Andrew. I’ll be asleep. So you shrink the calls down, you shrink the calls down into small bite-sized bits. Now what that does is allows me to teach the teams and the individuals some stuff, give them some tools and techniques that they then go away with and do stuff on the job. Everyone knows that 70% of your learning is done on the job. Now we’ll give you the tools and techniques to do it. They go off and do it and then guess what? We come back a week or two later or a month later and do another module.


And the first question we ask, what do you remember from last time? How did you apply it? And at the end of every module we also say, between now and the next module, you will confront this situation. This is where you use a tool, try it out, try it out. As I said, COVID and virtual training changed all that. It allowed you to go from that, anyone knows anything about learning, there’s a 70, 20, 10 model where 70% of your learning is done on the job and 10% is that technical training that I provide. We used to only be able to do the 10. Now we can do 10, 20 and 70. That’s great. And the beauty of it is you can walk out of the modules and apply those things straight away because there we call the program Everyday MBA because it’s tools and techniques taken from the everyday taken from other functions that have been picked apart and lifted up and get used for finance.

Chris Ortega (27:04):

That’s absolutely amazing, man. And I think it covers that major point where if you got that objection where you’re like, man, I don’t know if I have the time to do this, it’s taking the time to go out there and do it. And it’s the time to value and being able to get these things because to me, I think this topic is so important because this is where if I’m placing, I was just out in Vegas, and if I’m placing my betts on the value that finance professionals are going to have with non-finance and the impact that we’re going to make across the business, if you say, Chris, if you got 500 bucks and you’re going to place that on the quantitative side, are you going to place that on the qualitative side? The robots are here and you talk about this, the robots are here.


The quantitative stuff is honestly not where I’m going to place my $500 bet if I’m banking my future, if I’m banking my career, if I’m banking the value. If I want to get promoted and be a leader in finance of the future, I’m banking on these qualitative side because that’s not where… ChatGPT, BarGPT-4, all these hosts of generative AI tools, the quantitative things are where they’re going to have a lot more value. And honestly, it’s not where I want to spend my time in the future. I want to spend my time being a great influencer, building great relationships, having strong communication, shifting my mindset, turning in numbers and making it valuable for people and having that ability to, like you said, build, connect, and make an impact. That’s where you should place your bets and that’s where the future of finance as a profession. It’s not about finance being the scorekeepers anymore, it’s about finance people being the future advocates and helping guide the business. And that’s where you should position yourself.

Andrew Jepson (28:45):

You can, but you can be all those things about just providing reports and numbers and all that sort of stuff, but you’re very quickly going to be pigeon holders, potentially not adding any value. You put yourself in risk of redundancy and replaced by robots. So that’s the phrase of the FBP team is once the robots arrive, the only thing left is business partnering. Because the robots can do all that technical stuff that we learn much quicker, much more accurately than any human ever can. Now there’ll be a human element that has to oversee it, but you slowly see that stuff shrink. And the stuff that robots can’t do is the human element of things, the qualitative stuff. And funnily enough, as you go through your career, you don’t think about this stuff too often in your career when it’s early on because you’re just absorbing technical and you’re learning your craft, you’re learning your finance craft.


And that sometimes even works in, just say you’re in big four or consulting or professional services, people ring you up and they want that technical stuff, which is fine. When you’re in an organization and you’re surrounded by non-finance people and you’re trying to work on things that’ll help the organization achieve their strategic goals and tactics and all that sort of stuff, you suddenly need a different skillset. And one of them is being able to work well with people.


And you don’t think of it in your career until you’re 10, 15 years into it and then suddenly the light bulb goes off. You have that moment where you go, geez, that worked really well and it worked really well because I was a little bit more collaborative. It happens to everyone, but no one sees it until it happens. So there’s a blind spot up until you get… And I had it, I had it. I worked with finance people for first 10, 12 years of my career, and then I got a job where I had my finance team, but predominantly I was working with non-finance. And for two or three years I just pissed everyone off and just annoyed everyone. And I couldn’t get things done quickly until I had to go on a reconditioning phase of totally transforming the way I did things. And once I did that, your career takes off.

Chris Ortega (30:48):

Yeah. And I love the way that you broke that down. And it is, it comes in stages. And I think everything that we talked about to is for all of those accounting, finance, FP&A, VPs of finance professionals, if you’re looking to transform that from a skillset to a mindset and you’re looking for a partner and team with proven success of doing that, the FBP team is directly where I think you should go. Hey, Jeps, one last question I have. I ask every guest on CFO Trends, this last one question. What is your number one hot finance trend and why?

Andrew Jepson (31:22):

It’s obviously the FBP team and getting out. That’s just got a trend and go right off the charts.

Chris Ortega (31:24):

I would a hundred percent agree with that.

Andrew Jepson (31:26):

That’s just me being self-indulgent. The real one is, as I said, once the robots arrive, the only thing left will be business partnering. That is live right now. If you rewound 12 months, AI, ChatGPT, Bard, all those things, they weren’t even in existence. And then come November, December 22, bang, they’ve landed and everyone’s just on them going, wow, how cool is this sort of stuff.


So that’s stuff is right in the bullseye at the moment. So that’s a big trend. How do you leverage it and how do you use it without it replacing you? Because I use it just with crafting messages and sometimes I might be writing a message and I’m writing it in the way I like to write and the way I like to do, bang, you just go, bang, write it out the way I like it. You can pop that into ChatGPT and I know the person that I’m talking to might be a certain type of individual, I’ll just ask ChatGPT to make it sound like that and bang, it just reconstructs it and then you just go through and change a couple of things and send it off.


That makes a massive difference when you are communicating, especially finance people who default to email. I would always say go and have a conversation because you lose all that stuff anyway. But we do a lot of stuff over email. And ChatGPT can do that. I use Excel. I’m okay at Excel. If you asked me where I was, probably 50%, if you looked at a population, I’m right in the middle. I know how to do some stuff and there’s some stuff that’s beyond me. I can go to the ChatGPT and tell it what I want it to do and it gives me the formula that I then just copy and paste. Now that is so much quicker than going on Google and YouTube and trying to find it. That can sometimes take you two minutes. It can sometimes take you two hours and you don’t know what you’re listening to.


Whereas ChatGPT, bang, just does it and you’re like, wow, that’s already there. So that sort of stuff is going to speed up your learning and speed up your knowledge around things and just help you do things a lot quicker. And if you can plug it into your system, I don’t even know how that works, [inaudible 00:33:23] on my pay grade, but if you can plug it into your system and see the scope that it’s got there, that is the trend that’s going to be here for the next two or three years. As I always say to you, my favorite joke, Chris, I always say this as a joke, 2028 is a year that Arnie goes back in time in the Terminator movies. [inaudible 00:33:39].

Chris Ortega (33:39):

Oh yeah, that’s right.

Andrew Jepson (33:41):

I used to say that jokingly for the last three or four years. December 22, when that landed, I went, oh, okay, this is going to be here pretty quick. So I was thinking that’s only five years away. Now I’m sitting there thinking, imagine in five years what these things are going to be doing.

Chris Ortega (33:55):


Andrew Jepson (33:57):

So, it’s flipped really quickly.

Chris Ortega (33:58):

Yeah. It has. And I think definitely generative AI and I think for this conversation for all the listeners, how you’re able to leverage that and really place that bet into that qualitative things that we talked about here. That’s where you’re going to have the biggest ROI and the biggest impact that you’re going to be able to have is because I read in a study that ChatGPT, GPT-4 passed the CPA exam. GPT-4 literally took the CPA exam all four parts of it and passed it.

Andrew Jepson (34:27):

[inaudible 00:34:28] That’s no big deal.

Chris Ortega (34:29):

Yeah, yeah. That’s not crazy that artificial intelligence passed the CPA exam.

Andrew Jepson (34:34):

I would expect it to be able to do that. I would expect something like that to be able to do that. What I wouldn’t expect-

Chris Ortega (34:40):

Is to be able to translate that to non-finance people. Yeah.

Andrew Jepson (34:43):

Well is to have a conversation with someone and navigate through the feel of that conversation. That’s wishy-washy stuff, but that’s how we make decisions and that’s how we things in business. I’ve got my own business and I don’t necessarily take financial decision all the time. There’s other contexts, the numbers doesn’t happen. It’s all in my head and it comes out through conversation. So if you aren’t able to play in that space, as a good example, ring up, I don’t know, the telecommunications company and get a chatbot or the chatbot that you’re talking to on the screen. What inevitably happens with a really hard problem or something that has specific context is you just go round and round in circles.

Chris Ortega (35:23):

And do you just say, customer support.

Andrew Jepson (35:26):

Give me some of the talk to, I want to explain it to them. That will always be there. And if you’re good at that, then you become quite powerful and you get the robots to do the other stuff. But it’s a different skillset that no one’s ever really taught and you often take it for granted. But if you actually apply some really easy tools and techniques, you can propel yourself really quickly.

Chris Ortega (35:48):

Awesome. Hey Jeps, thanks so much, man. I appreciate that and I completely agree with that hot trend. I think generative AI, it’s going to be curious to see what the next five years are. Hey, but before we go, if people want to learn more about the FBP team, if they want to learn more about the Everyday MBA, where can people follow you? Where can people learn more about the programs? What’s those links and where can people find more to learn, connect with you and learn more about the Everyday MBA, the FBP team?

Andrew Jepson (36:14):

Yeah, easiest way, I’m on LinkedIn a bit. I post quite regularly, so just connect with me on LinkedIn. You can also visit the website, thefbpteam.com, which has a lot of our stuff on there. Of course, Chris is going to help me build this in North America. Feel free to reach out to Chris. I’m in Australia. Time zones are obviously sometimes very funny, but Chris is going to help me build this in America. America, the way I see it and the businesses I’ve worked with in America, American finance people are actually pretty good at this stuff. They just don’t call it finance business partnering.


That’s what I’ve got to get over is that finance business partnering is a phrase that’s not really used too much in North America. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. Yeah, that’s how you can find me. I’ll have a chat, so give me a call. I can talk you through some stuff. We do some free workshops and bootcamps to get people started. But yeah, I’m a very lucky man. I get to do this all day every day, and if you asked me 20 years ago would I be doing this, I would’ve said you’re mad. But yeah, I love it. I get a lot of energy from working with different people. So yeah, reach out and happy to have a chat anytime.

Chris Ortega (37:22):

Awesome. Yeah, thank you for that and I highly recommend, really excited to partner with you on this. Everybody, if you’re listening, want to learn more, definitely connect with Jeps. He’s got great insights every day. And then also check out www.thefbpteam.com. Jeps, thank you so much for CFO Trends. Thank you so much for your time, brother.

Andrew Jepson (37:40):

Love it how you call me Jeps. I don’t have any problem with you calling me Jeps as opposed to the formal Andrew. I don’t take myself very seriously, but I take what I do very seriously. So I’m happy for you to call me Jeps or whatever you want to call me, but thanks for having me on. Really enjoyed it. And onwards and upwards

Chris Ortega (37:56):

For sure. Thank you so much.

Andrew Jepson (37:57):

Cheers, man.

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