What is FP&A and what do FP&A Professionals do?

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is the budgeting, forecasting and analytical processes that support an organisation's financial health and business strategy. FP&A analysts, managers, and directors are responsible for providing senior management with the financial analysis and information they need to make major operational, financial, and strategic decisions.

FP&A professionals will be involved in running the annual budgeting process and producing regular forecasts that show the expected future performance of the business. They analyse business trends and past results, advise on how company performance can be improved and explore potential growth scenarios. FP&A professionals can expect to interact regularly with senior leadership with reporting a key element of the role. They will be responsible for comparing actuals against plan, updating forecasts to reflect actual performance and informing management on the progress of the company’s strategic plans.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Liaising with senior management to prepare the business's financial and strategic plans
  • Working with Business Unit heads to build their annual budgets and forecasts, consolidating them into one overall budget
  • Analysing financial and operational results to better understand company performance
  • Preparing competitor analysis, market trends and associated commentary to senior management
  • Provide detailed analysis and commentary on Business Unit results
  • Creating financial models to project long term growth & determine the impacting business factors
  • Comparing and evaluating previous budgets and forecasts, and performing variance analysis to explain differences in performance and make improvements going forward
  • Evaluating whether the company’s current assets and investments are the best use of the company’s excess working capital

Why are they important?

The FP&A role is fundamental to business success as it allows management to effectively manage cashflow, make the best use of capital and plan financially to ensure the organisations strategic goals can be met.

For publicly listed companies the FP&A role is particularly important. As well as allowing the organisation to accurately allocate resources, management teams often provide revenue and net income guidance to shareholders based on the analysis from the FP&A team which has a direct and immediate impact on a company's share price.

Skills needed for this role

FP&A professionals must be highly analytical, with an ability to solve complex problems and a high level of commercial acumen. Excellent communication, interpersonal and influencing skills are also highly advantageous in this field.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Financial Management

Advanced Performance Management

Career opportunities presented by this role

Due to the key role that FP&A has in the success of a business, there is an increasing demand for professionals in this area. Opportunities are largely available in-house and across a wide variety of industries. The career path is well structured - roles start at analyst level and progress up to director.

Competencies

High level competencies required include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.

     

  • Financial management

    A. Links developments in global trade, markets, business practices and the economic environment to required improvements in the financial and risk management of an organisation.

    B. Advises on business asset valuations, capital projects and investments using appropriate analytical qualitative and quantitative techniques.

    C. Identifies, evaluates and advises on alternative sources of business finance and different ways of raising finance.

    D. Communicates and advises on the impact on financial decision making on current developments in regulation, governance and ethics.

    E. Assesses and advises on appropriate strategies to manage business and organisational performance regarding business and finance risk and effectively communicates the impact.
     

  • Management accounting

    A. Applies development and performance management, in the wider business and technological environment, within the context of strategic planning and implementation.

    B. Directs organisational performance through the selection and measurement of financial and non-financial performance indicators.

    C. Collaborates on the key tactical and organisational areas of budgeting and control, capital investments, people and resource management.

    D. Consults on the design and use of current and emerging technology and information systems to improve strategic decision-making and organisational performance.

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.

  • Strategy and innovation

    A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.

    B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop sustainable plans and objectives.

    C. Evaluates, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.

    D. Adopts and applies innovative methods to implement strategy and manages change.