What is Financial Planning and Analysis:
The objective of a member of the FP&A team is to provide senior management with the
information they need to make operational, financial, and strategic decisions. In simple terms, the FP&A team are responsible for budgeting and forecasting – the planning side of accounting. This is done by analysing economic and business trends, reviewing past performance, anticipating future potential problems and obstacles but crucially, the FP&A team rely heavily on commercial and business information. As such, they work closely with the CEO, sales, marketing and operations teams.
A key difference between an FP&A Analyst and an Accountant is an Accountant focuses on the retrospective finances but an Analyst uses that information to plan future strategies.
Some responsibilities include:
The timely and accurate completion of the financial models, annual budgeting and quarterly/monthly forecasts.
Maintaining a robust reporting framework which gives senior management the ability to view Actuals vs Plan, prior year and forecast at relevant granularity throughout a month.
Develop a strong relationship with the finance business partnering/sales and marketing team to ensure that the financial data being used is aligned with FP&A financials and methodologies.
Understand potential risks and prepare scenario modelling.
Involvement in ad-hoc projects such as M&A activity, market research
How to secure an FP&A role:
FP&A roles are highly competitive and sought after. It is rare that you would get an FP&A role straight out of university and some industry experience is generally preferred. Below are a number of ways to make that transition:
Strong academic background
Continuing further education (CFA/QFA)
For FP&A roles, interviewers will look for:
Enthusiasm and drive.
In depth knowledge about the company, sector and market.
Real interest in the industry.
Excellent commercial and financial acumen with experience in understanding and breaking down complex data and processes.
If an Accountant was to gather financial accounting experience within an industry, getting a better understanding in how a company works and it’s financial operations will really stand to you if you want to get into FP&A. With this experience, they can use their knowledge and apply it to a move into commercial operations so experienced Accountants can use financial accounting as a stepping stone to increase their chances of securing a role in FP&A.
Future career prospects with this experience:
With a big focus on strategy and understanding the financial complexity of a business and it’s forecasts, you can progress into lead FP&A and subsequently CEO/CFO positions.
For a newly qualified FP&A Analyst (ACA/ACCA) – €55,000 – €60,000
With industry experience (1-2 years PQE) the range could be €60,000 – €70,000