As a public finance manager, you play a critical role in ensuring that government resources are used effectively to serve the public interest.
However, managing public finances can be a daunting task, particularly in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing economic landscape. To help you navigate the challenges of your role, here are five crucial lessons for public finance managers.
Lesson 1: Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is critical for public finance managers. Whether you are presenting financial reports to elected officials or communicating with the public about government spending, it is essential to be clear, concise, and transparent.
Public finance managers can build trust and confidence with stakeholders through effective communication, ensuring that government resources are being used in the best interests of citizens.
A key example of this occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, when differing responses from finance managers had a big impact.
“So far, early assessments have shown that PFM systems ranged from being a fundamental enabler to acting as a roadblock in the COVID-19 health response,” the World Health Organization wrote.
Lesson 2: Focus on Results, Not Just Compliance
One of the biggest errors that public finance managers can make is focusing solely on compliance and not on results. While it is essential to ensure that government funds are used in accordance with laws and regulations, this should not be the only goal.
To serve the public interest, public finance managers must focus on achieving tangible results that improve the lives of citizens. This requires a shift in mindset from simply following rules to actively seeking out innovative solutions and best practices that can deliver better outcomes.
Lesson 3: Stay Agile and Adaptable
Lastly, public finance managers must be agile and adaptable. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing economic landscape, the ability to pivot quickly and adjust strategies in response to new challenges and opportunities is essential. This requires a willingness to take risks, experiment with new approaches, and continuously learn and grow as a professional.
It also requires patience, as a public finance manager David Barrick learned firsthand. Barrick was working as Chief Administrative Officer in Brampton, Canada, when in-fighting among politicians led to a variety of wild accusations. Barrick always maintained his professionalism and focus on delivering results for the community while also now having to deal with investigations attacking his credibility and integrity. After these costly investigations confirmed he had, in fact, done no wrongdoing, Barrick earned a public apology from the City that publicly exonerated him of all accusations. While that apology was covered by local media, David Barrick’s ability to stay agile and adaptable under unprecedented personal and professional pressure led to this positive outcome.
Lesson 4: Embrace Technology
In today’s digital age, technology has become an essential tool for public finance managers. From automated accounting systems to data analytics software, technology can help streamline processes, improve accuracy, and provide valuable insights into financial trends and patterns.
To stay competitive and effective in your role, it is essential to embrace technology and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in this field.
Lesson 5: Build Strong Partnerships
Public finance managers cannot work in isolation. To achieve their goals, they must build strong partnerships with other government agencies, private sector organizations, and community stakeholders.
By working collaboratively, public finance managers can leverage the expertise and resources of others to achieve better outcomes and deliver more value to citizens. Being a public finance manager is a challenging role that requires a broad range of skills and competencies. Done correctly, public finance managers can make a meaningful impact on the lives of thousands of people.