The Game Of Business: Finance People As Goalkeepers

Vaag Durgaryan

Imagine a football team made up of the top attackers in the world. Wouldn’t that be a dream team? But what if this team has extremely unskilled defenders and a terrible goalkeeper? Then this team drops from being the dream team to being less than average.

For corporations, finance employees are the goalkeepers of the business. They inhale targets, policies, rules, and numbers and exhale reports, analysis, and other finance documents. Between inhaling and exhaling, they do “goalkeeping”: checking to ensure integrity and compliance. Compliance encompasses conformance with all applicable internal and external guidelines, rules, regulations, and high ethical standards – by which they save their team (corporation) from conceding any goals (scandals and fines).

Is noncompliance favorable?

Imagine a talented football player playing the final game in the 2018 World Cup. In minute 89, the score is draw, and the other team is attacking. Wouldn’t that player do his or her best not to lose? Wouldn’t the player even kick another player to prevent a goal, even if this led to a foul and a yellow card? A few minutes later, the referee whistles, the game ends, that player’s team wins with scoring in the penalties, the coach is super-pleased, and the fans are delighted. Wouldn’t the player think this is worth the yellow card?

Some companies may believe that management decisions should not be challenged. For instance, if the management team forecast $100 million in profits, the results should be so – even if they’re unattainable through hard work. It could be achieved by manipulating the results so the team wins, reports shine with good results, managers are super-pleased, and the fans (stakeholders) are delighted. But then? Can companies afford being noncompliant?

Companies may get injured, too

In business, playing fast and loose with the rules may be even riskier than in football. A red card for a player leaves the team with other 10 players until the end of the game. But a red card for noncompliance leaves a company with a bad reputation and huge fines. It might even cause the lifecycle curve to accelerate in meeting the X-axis, writing an end to the company’s life. There are plenty of examples of this in corporate history.

The short-term results of noncompliance may look appealing for some corporations. But finance’s role is to save the net, just like goalkeepers do for their teams, and produce genuinely compliant, ethical, and winning teams.

Companies surely cannot win if they do not play by the rules – both ethical and business – and finance employees play the key role in ensuring compliance.

For more on finance’s role, see Why Compliance Is A CPA’s Competitive Weapon For 2018.

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Vaag Durgaryan

About Vaag Durgaryan

Vaag Durgaryan is the commercial finance director for SAP in the Middle East and North Africa, which comprises of over 20 countries. Starting in 2017, he oversees a multinational team that provides finance expertise, knowledge, and strategy outlook for finance sales support in the region. Prior to that, Vaag was chief of staff for the CFO for SAP Global Field Finance and co-drove global transformation initiatives with focus on process simplification and people enablement. He holds an Executive MBA degree from ESSEC Business School and Mannheim Business School. Vaag has a passion in digitalization and learning culture.