Today’s post is on how to launch your FP&A career as an Accountant.
A hot topic for lots of people today.
You will learn:
- Why Accounting is important to business
- What an FP&A professional does
- Skills needed to be successful in FP&A
- Analysis that FP&A teams do to support their business partners
- How to get experience in FP&A right away
If you’re an Accountant, you belong in FP&A.
Using this knowledge will help you launch your FP&A career RIGHT NOW. 🚀
Let’s dive in.
Why Accounting is important to business
Knowing the Accounting language is CRITICAL to being an FP&A professional.
If you’re in Accounting, you’re already off to a great start by speaking the language of business.
Every business needs an Accountant.
Accountants are unsung heroes of the business world, they deserve a high five for keeping businesses alive and thriving. ✋
Accountants keep the books balanced, pay bills, collect payments, and ensure there’s enough cash for payroll.
These activities keep a business in operation.
These activities are part of your company’s financial scoreboard.
Keeping this scoreboard accurate and visible helps a company understand if it’s winning today.
That’s what Accountants do.
And what if you could help ensure your company is winning a year from now?
Does influencing the future seem far-fetched?
This is what FP&A professionals do.
We did this very thing at +10 companies over our 40 years of combined experience.
How did we do it?
We used our FP&A skills to business partner with all major functions to increase future revenue, reduce future expenses, and increase future cash flows.
This helped our companies hit growth targets, pay everyone their performance bonuses, and keep the business in operation by growing.
Growth = Fun 👍
We also got promoted for driving positive results.
You can help your business win more and get promoted too by jumping into FP&A.
Let’s slide in and find out how you can join the team!
What is FP&A?
FP&A stands for Financial Planning and Analysis.
FP&A professionals literally work with all facets of the business and think through the financial implications of decisions being made.
Think of it this way…
- FP&A = Future
- Accounting = Past / Present
And it’s not just about crunching numbers and creating spreadsheets.
Although let’s be real, that’s a big part of it.
It’s about taking all of that financial data and turning it into a story that the entire organization can understand.
And telling the succinct story of financial performance is why FP&A is so essential.
Why is FP&A essential?
No one else in the company can help articulate how financial decisions will impact expected future results better than FP&A.
Why is this true?
FP&A creates all of the financial plans including the budget and forecasts.
That means FP&A understands the drivers of revenue and expenses that went into each financial plan and how to influence them.
And what happens when business results differ from the original plans?
FP&A helps understand the financial impacts of these results and comes up with solutions to solve for profit and cash shortfalls.
For example, let’s say revenue fell short this month.
FP&A would understand the impact on profit.
THEN come up with options for the business to take action.
That’s FP&A’s superpower.
The ability to translate decisions into financial outcomes and to do so quickly.
This helps the business maintain a great scoreboard on a regular basis.
That’s a big responsibility.
That’s why FP&A is so essential.
Today’s world is putting pressure on financial performance.
- Supply chain delays impact customer deliveries
- Wage increases drive higher input costs
- Higher borrowing costs require tighter cash flow management
- Customers are constantly renegotiating prices lower
In this unpredictable world, the FP&A profession is needed more than ever.
And as an Accountant, you belong in FP&A.
Here’s how you can start filling the need for FP&A now.
The skills and connections required in FP&A
All jobs require a combination of skills and connections to be successful.
FP&A is no different.
Here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW to launch your FP&A career.
Become an excel guru
Being an Excel Guru is like having a superpower.
You can transform everyday data into an insightful report and do so quickly.
And It’s not just about impressing your boss with your skills.
It’s about turning data into actionable insights.
And doing so with speed.
Embrace the power of Excel and take control of your FP&A career.
You can absolutely hang with other FP&A professionals.
Let’s go meet one.
Learn about your budget from the person that created it
A budget is a financial plan for a specific period of time, typically one year.
It is used to forecast and manage your company’s income and expenses.
The budget is usually created by FP&A and is approved by upper management.
Budgeting is an important exercise because it helps your company align its financial resources with its strategic goals and objectives
And guess what is at the core of a budget?
Accounting data. 🙂
The best budgets are done at the department and account levels.
Doing this allows for easy comparison to actuals when the books are closed.
Talk to your budget creator about:
- The assumptions in each department and account
- The variance analysis they do at month end to understand actuals vs budget
- The business partners they meet with to influence future decisions and results
You’ll be surprised.
There may be changes you could make in your accounting close that would make your budget creator’s life a lot easier.
For example, your finance person may struggle with pulling vendor-level details from accounting transactions related to marketing spend.
You as the journal entry writer may be able to add vendor details to the transaction register in a way that makes this vendor look-up process easier.
You just sped up the variance analysis process.
This means business decisions can be made faster.
This makes your budget creator, your business partners, and your CFO very happy.
And by helping your budget creator, you’re actively participating in improving an FP&A process.
You’re an experienced FP&A person in our books now. 👌
Now let’s meet more people you can help.
Ask other departments how they use financial data
Working with members of your company outside of FP&A and Accounting is called business partnering.
Business partnering is a strategic approach used to work closely with other departments to provide financial guidance and support to help drive business decisions.
These partnerships are important because they help align the goals of the finance department with the overall strategy of the company
They also enable better decision-making across the organization.
And guess who usually leads business partnering?
Because FP&A created the budget, which set the goals of the business partners.
Ask these business partners what they do and how they use data to make decisions.
Then ask what can you do to help them be more effective at their jobs.
Here’s an example from Marketing.
Marketing spends A LOT of money and does so in a short amount of time.
Controlling this spend can be challenging and the least favorite part of a marketer’s day job.
Try helping them gain visibility into their spending by launching a purchase order approval process.
This helps put them in control of their spend by preventing over or under-spending in a given period.
You just made your Marketing business partner and CMO very happy.
You’ll be considered a hero for helping and asked to help more.
And you also just kick-started your FP&A career as a finance business partner.
Now meet more people and solve more problems.
You’ll become the go-to FP&A person in no time.
Try doing some game-changing FP&A analysis
Anybody can start learning some game-changing FP&A analysis today.
Here are a few types of analysis that we have seen get people hired and promoted within FP&A:
Have fun with this analysis and make it your own.
You’re going to help so many people do their jobs more effectively. 👊
And that’s going to make you one heck of an FP&A professional.
Conclusion: Your FP&A career already started
Your Accounting job instantly gained FP&A responsibilities.
Your FP&A skills are dramatically better than they were yesterday.
And your network has grown with advocates that want you as their finance business partner.
Not too shabby in a short amount of time, right?
You can have a career in FP&A, it’s there for you to take.
Accountants make amazing FP&A professionals.
And by learning and growing your network each week, you’re supercharging your FP&A career for the long term.
Put in the time, be curious, and HAVE FUN with it.
Careers are marathons, and burnout is real.
Constantly seek out jobs, tasks, projects, and people that give you energy.
This will help you stay in the race and enjoy the journey to the finish line.
How do you feel now? Ready to launch your FP&A career as an Accountant?
Let us know by replying here or emailing us. If you have any specific topics you’d like to share, let us know!
Now go have fun making an impact on your business and your career!
Drew & Yarty
PS: This post is 100% human-made