Career In Financial Planning And Analysis

Career In Financial Planning And Analysis – The increasing diversity and complexity of the finance function’s responsibilities has given rise to a discipline that promises to bridge the gap between finance and business by using information and technology to support the decision-making process. This refers to FP&A, which stands for Financial Planning and Analysis.

The emerging FP&A practice is emerging from the shadows of other finance functions and becoming an independent entity with its own mission, goals, organization, processes, tools and capabilities. In turn, FP&A analyst is a promising but growing career that may be of interest to graduates with degrees in finance, statistics, economics or business, as well as finance professionals from related disciplines.

Career In Financial Planning And Analysis

This article discusses the typical activities and key responsibilities of an FP&A practitioner, the range of skills required to perform these duties, common roles for FP&A professionals, career opportunities, and how FP&A differs from other finance functions and disciplines.

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Financial planning and analysis is one of the pillars of the modern finance function. The ability to get enough detail while simultaneously understanding the big picture predetermines the primary purpose and even mission of the FP&A function – to support and drive good strategic decisions for the company. This is true for all possible economic scenarios: During a boom, FP&A is involved in defining business goals, analyzing growth options, and assessing market opportunities and risks, while during a downturn, FP&A can contribute to corrective action plans and cost reductions. and other initiatives. To contribute to maintaining the financial health of the company.

Familiar with data analytics and equipped with powerful tools, FP&A teams are beginning to play a more visible role in organizations, providing leaders with actionable insights and recommendations on the best ways to achieve company goals, thereby directly impacting company performance and performance. success.

FP and A functions in different organizations may have different maturity levels that determine the scope of the FP and A practitioner’s responsibilities. A typical list of FP&A activities typically includes planning, budgeting, forecasting, analysis, management reporting, and performance management.

Planning involves determining the company’s short-term (1 year) and long-term (3-5 years) goals. This process typically involves the FP&A team working closely with business leaders and executives to align goals and expectations and create an overall financial model of future revenues, costs and cash flows based on external and internal factors and conditions.

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Budgeting is short-term planning, the purpose of which is to translate strategic goals into operational plans by allocating available resources. This process usually happens once a year and lasts for several months.

Forecasting is the practice of periodically predicting a company’s expected future results based on past and present data and expected future events. The goal of forecasting is to enable organizations to better respond to changing conditions and make business decisions with sufficient confidence. This feature is an important advantage of forecasts over budgets, which, on the other hand, are static and rarely change once approved.

Financial analysis is an economic analysis based on financial data aimed at evaluating the stability and profitability of a company, business or project. Financial analysis is the cornerstone of the FP&A function to provide advice and support informed business decisions.

Management reporting includes a set of reports presented to management to support the decision-making process and monitor progress.

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Performance management is a set of practices used by companies to measure performance and deliver results. Business performance management integrated with financial planning, analysis and reporting becomes an integral part of the FP&A team’s activities. FP&A Analysts participate in discussions of goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), monitor progress at the strategic and operational levels, and make recommendations for performance improvement.

To perform various functions and tasks, FP&A practitioners must possess and develop certain hard and soft skills.

The top skills listed in nearly every FP&A job opening include strong financial modeling and advanced spreadsheet skills. Financial planning (including scenario planning, what-if analysis) and reporting tasks are still performed everywhere and in the beloved Excel, so it really is a must-have for FP&A analysts.

In the era of big data, familiarity with queries (SQL) is extremely useful for FP&A professionals to collect data directly and then analyze it to generate valuable insights.

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At the same time, as BI tools improve, creating dashboards and visualizations is becoming an in-demand skill for FP&A professionals as it enables them to automate daily reporting and better communicate data and insights.

When it comes to soft skills, it is not so easy here. Of course, like any finance major, FP&A requires a certain personality fit: numerical and analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to handle and work under pressure are essential. These skills are critical because FP&A analysts spend most of their days working with large data sets, performing calculations, and producing results, all of which are expected to be completed under strict deadlines.

However, interpersonal and communication skills are equally important, especially today as we are witnessing a dramatic shift in FP and A organizations towards a business partner model. Different levels of networking, storytelling and clear communication of complex issues and calculations will help build trust with the FP&A team, while commercial insight and commercial awareness are extremely useful in finding common ground with the business.

The skill set of the FP&A professional obviously evolves along with their role and responsibilities within the FP&A team.

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Although the organization of the FP&A function can vary from company to company, the most common roles on the FP&A team are: Junior FP&A Analyst, Senior FP&A Analyst, FP&A Manager, and FP&A Director/Senior, as shown in the figure below.

Junior FP&A analysts typically have little or no relevant experience in financial planning and analysis. Their duties primarily include data collection and preparation of data for further analysis by senior colleagues to whom they report directly. Junior FP&A analysts typically work on basic repetitive tasks, reports, and projects so that they can develop their skills before moving on to specific activities.

Senior FP&A analysts have extensive experience in financial planning and analysis and have a thorough understanding of a company’s financial performance. They can build complex financial models, analyze and interpret financial data, identify trends and make recommendations to improve results.

FP&A managers with extensive relevant experience in FP&A are the owners of FP&A processes, building and improving them based on needs and requirements. At the same time, they must be able to translate the team’s analytical findings into actionable insights and communicate them clearly. They have the interpersonal and leadership skills to manage, mentor and develop teams of junior and senior analysts.

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The Director of FP&A oversees all aspects of the company’s FP&A function, communicating the vision and leading the FP&A team. As the CFO’s right-hand man, they work closely with business leaders to provide input and actively participate in decision-making and strategy development. FP&A directors often boast strong experience in financial planning and analysis, and they have a good understanding of the overall finance function and company business model, enabling them to take the next step in their careers as Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). ).

Another important aspect to consider within the scope of the discussion is how FP&A differs from other financial disciplines (such as accounting, corporate finance, and financial control).

Although accounting and FP&A both deal with numbers, financial statements, operations and results, the primary purpose of their functions is quite different. Accounting usually focuses on the historical transactions a company has performed in past accounting periods and can therefore be described as a reactive function. In contrast, the FP&A function’s responsibilities include forecasting, planning, and analysis to support decision making, which are forward-looking activities.

Both functions are important in an organization because accounting must provide accurate records and data that can be further analyzed by the FP&A team to generate valuable insights and support strategic and operational decisions.

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The controller works closely with the accounting function to ensure that reporting results are consistent with accounting standards, laws and regulations, develops and documents policies and procedures for internal control of the organization, participates in the preparation of financial statements, budgeting and forecasting. All this makes the CFO an obvious candidate to communicate with external auditors and manage the audit process.

Overall, the CFO’s focus is to organize and optimize financial processes, including FP and A, helping them play a valued role in the company.

Corporate finance typically involves a wide range of transactions and activities related to capital investment decisions, such as mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, joint venture financing, restructuring plans, and initial public offerings. Corporate finance professionals to support these businesses financially:

Corporate finance activities are extremely important because they are directly related to corporate strategy and have a major impact on shareholder value. In larger companies that often engage in this type of work, dedicated in-house corporate finance teams may handle these transactions.

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