What makes a winning finance and accounting team: Look to the Giants for inspiration

Any fan who watched the San Francisco Giants win their third World Series title in five years could see why this team pulled off such a feat. Throughout the season, the Giants overcame adversity, they acted cohesively, and the star players came through whenever necessary.

While marveling at the Giants’ success, we also saw a parallel between their latest title run and what makes a great finance and accounting team perform their best. After serving clients in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, we have great finance teams on the brain and lots of insight to go with it. Imagine if you had a team like this:

Bruce Bochy as CFO – Every strong team needs a strong leader. As manager, Bochy helped steer the team through the typical ups and downs of a long season. CFOs similarly have to keep a steady ship while navigating their team around the challenging business climate that changes on a quarterly basis. How consistently they lead determines whether they have an average year or can win it all.

Gregor Blanco as VP Finance – All teams need a leadoff hitter who sets the tone, from his first hit, to his strong patrol at center field and his ability to get on base when it’s needed most. Finance teams need this position too. The VP of Finance manages the breadth of the staff functions and provides strategic and tactical support for everyone in the organization. That was why Gregor stood out: He provided key offense and the defensive plays that backed the Giants all season.

Hunter Pence as Director of Finance – Most teams have that Energizer Bunny type—the one who tends to make the big plays at critical times or gets everyone around them pumped up even during tough times. Hunter is that guy as he patrols right field. He’s like the Director of Finance, who helps ensure timely and accurate financial statements and reports that fall under GAAP. Just like Hunter’s key hits, the Director of Finance must deliver in high-pressure environments.

Buster Posey as Controller – The catcher provides the foundation for the team, working with various pitchers and watching out for baserunners. Like most Controllers, Buster keeps the operations of his team rolling along smoothly. He makes sure that all records (and performers) are in order. Without Buster’s steadiness and leadership, the Giants probably wouldn’t have won the trophy.

Pablo Sandoval as Chief Operating Officer – The third baseman has to hit for power, field his position well and handle the “hot corner” with precision. He could have been a COO, known for keeping a steady hand across multiple areas of the business to ensure smooth interdependence between various disciplines within the company. It helps to have someone as popular as the “Panda” in this role to work out the inevitable tough issues that arise.

Michael Morse in an SEC Reporting role – The left fielder hits for power.  Those who have experience and knowledge of SEC reporting are similarly playing with power against unwanted intrusions (inquiries by regulators). They do this by always making sure filings are timely, accurate and compliant.

Brandon Belt in the Accounts Receivable/Accounts Payable team – The first baseman is the rock of the infield, by handling difficult throws, holding runners on base and backing up outfield throws. We saw this time and again with Brandon. He could be trusted to give a consistent performance and to keep members of the infield informed on what he needed from them. A true team player, Brandon would fit right in as part of an AR/AP team, which always needs to be diplomatic and post payments and receivables in a timely manner.

Brandon Crawford as a Technical Accountant – The shortstop has to cut off throws from the outfield, handle difficult grounders in the gaps and turn the double play. Brandon is an inspiration for technical accountants who must deal with the ever-changing world of revenue recognition, equity compensation and audit requirements. They are masters at pivoting when necessary and so was Brandon, who gave top-flight defense throughout the season no matter what was thrown his way.

Joe Panik as an Accountant – Every team has that solid go-to guy. Joe was as steady as they get at second base in the World Series, delivering the key play that helped drive the Giants to the final game win. If he ever needed a second career, he could be an accountant, who supports everything from journal entries to supporting audit requirements. They will do anything to support the team, just like Joe.

Madison Bumgarner as the finance org’s Hero – Every team has a hero, and this is a star pitcher who delivered the key leadership, skills and attitude that delivered a heroic series for the Giants. Accounting teams have similar “heroes” who seem to do the impossible on a regular basis. They meet audit deadlines, get SEC reports out on time and support key accounting projects with quality work. They are the true heroes that help their team win!

We hope you are as excited about the Giants’ World Series champs as us. Their talent, determination and great teamwork made it all possible. Let’s revel in this inspiring win.

Chris Vane is a director at RoseRyan, where he leads the development of the finance and accounting firm’s cleantech and high tech practices. He can be reached at cvane@roseryan.com or call him at 510.456.3056 x169.

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