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‘Frenemies’

His calm demeanor, the plain white shirt and grey hair personified his seniority as he was introduced with a designation of a Chief Financial Officer.  A C-class officer from his company, he was to present his work to us in one of our sessions for the FMA (Financial and Management Accounting) module.   At some point of his presentation, he asked the class, if any of us was in a marketing role, to which I raised my hand.  I was not surprised to hear he responded how ‘we’ need to be careful with marketing people (and that he told his co-workers the same).

Even taken out of context, his response pretty much described the dynamic between finance and marketing roles in organizations.  Being a marketer, I had been in the position to receive responses from a finance director who would question and scrutinize our marketing strategies – more to a harsh, bashing degree than a mere enquiring manner – not just as far as budgeting is concerned, but also on their efficacy in getting cash/sales in and how quick the turnaround is.

Getting closer: first impression doesn’t always count

Being a business student I came to realize more the sentiments most people have towards marketing.  Not only that we’re considered cut-the-edge creative people, but marketing is seen too ‘fluffy’, which makes most business-driven people see marketing with a skeptical look.

I thought of finance differently too.  I used to see it as something either black or white, nothing in between, as formulas are formulas.  It should be straightforward; put the numbers in, use the formula, and you’ll get the end result exactly the same with everyone else.  But apparently, to get to the end result, there are more than just one road that leads you to Rome – we could use other formulas, calculate the numbers in a different way, and somehow you could still end up with the same result like everyone else’s.  So, I see this as a component of creativity and ‘soft’-ness in finance.

Getting closer: what corporate finance is

Having an Arts undergraduate degree yet with marketing as work experience, I find myself fascinated with all of my business textbooks so far – unexceptionally those of the finance module’s.  With so much enthusiasm I came in to the class, to learn as much as possible from the person speaking in front of the classroom. However, realistically, the FFM module was one of those “hard skills” I had to struggle with – where typically on third day of lecture I would feel bogged down and forget how fascinating it was at the beginning.

This journey of getting closer with Finance is definitely as hard as I imagined. Coming prepared to the class did not work wonder as it usually did to the other modules. But, in the pursuit of befriending my ‘frenemy’ I have determined to get the hang of finance; being in a marketing role I aim to understand how finance works, its concepts and understanding especially on valuing an investment or a project.

Common goals: for the shareholders

The basic goal of financial management of ‘maximizing the value of company’s equity’ hit me at chapter 1.  I reflect how in reality, this common objective is less shared and communicated between marketing and finance personnel.

We could be so caught up in various arguments, such as marketing campaigns profitability, explaining our market research that drives our marketing campaigns and why they are costly, and why we most of the time arguing over suggestions of lower-cost campaigns because we want to maintain the brand’s image.

As I reflect on this concept and connect it with my past work situations, I realized how easy such arguments could lead to destructive environment as we missed this concept in our work – we tend to view the other side as threatening and a ‘rival’ who tries to undermine each other’s point of view.  The finance director saw me like a thief who tries to rip the company off and me as a marketer merely being the recipient of the finance director’s skepticism. Had we both realized that all efforts made are in the interest of the shareholders, we would see each other less as enemy.

Common goals: Tools and partnership

As I was helped within the two weeks of FFM (Finance and Financial Management) module to see finance in a different light – being data-driven by maximizing the use of marketing analytic tools and embracing finance personnel closer in the marketing strategies are in my reflection important in supporting both parties to be better collaborators at work.

Finance may not be a friend to me, but it’s definitely not an enemy.