Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) – the use of techniques like modelling, reporting, analysis, and budgeting to maintain and improve an organisation’s financial condition – is in a state of flux.

Recent market turbulence has given the discipline more strategic importance and highlighted its ability to steer organisations through choppy waters. Finance departments and leaders are now focused on elevating their FP&A teams and attracting and retaining high-value professionals in the discipline.

Michael Page Finance recently co-hosted a London chapter of the International FP&A Board, a leading thinktank with a presence in 29 cities in 16 countries around the world. The discussion covered the changing dynamics of the industry, key challenges facing FP&A teams, and the key skillsets those teams will need to thrive over the coming years. Here we'll be providing some of the highlights.

FP&A is changing fast - here's how

Numerous shifts are hitting the world of financial planning and analysis, from its use cases and status within organisations, to its changing talent pool and adoption of technological innovations.
Below, we've noted a few of the key trends impacting FP&A teams and professionals:

  • Increased strategic value. The economic turbulence of the last few years has made financial planning and analysis a major strategic tool for organisations around the world. Businesses are looking to their FP&A teams to unite different functions, provide direction, identify risks and opportunities, and facilitate decision-making processes. 
  • Accelerating technology adoption. Finance leaders are on a mission to maximise the time their FP&A professionals can spend on high-value activities. To this end, they are working with vendors to create and roll out new tools and platforms which meet the needs of the modern FP&A team.  
  • New skills and roles needed. Like so many areas of finance, FP&A is a skills-short discipline whose professionals are in high demand, a dynamic which has driven salaries up. At the same time, new roles are emerging within FP&A, necessitating the development of new skillsets. 

For a regional breakdown of salary benchmarks across different finance areas, download our 2023 Guide to Salaries and Hiring Strategy in Finance.

What does this mean for employers?

The dynamics outlined above have transformed talent acquisition, retention, and development strategies in FP&A. The shape and make-up of teams are transforming out of necessity, while leaders are eschewing siloed skillsets in favour of boundary-crossing ones.

At the roundtable, Michael Page and FP&A Trends discussed the five key skills groupings within FP&A:

  1. Technical skills
  2. Business skills
  3. People skills
  4. Leadership skills
  5. Digital and data analytics skills

These are all essential for an FP&A function. At the same time, finance leaders are working to develop ‘T-shaped’ teams, with boundary-crossing skills both wide and deep, encompassing a mixture of soft skills and technical competencies. For instance, in the modern FP&A team, broad skillsets like leadership, flexibility, analysis, communication, and collaboration, will need to be paired with data expertise and knowledge of analytics. 

Key FP&A trends in 2023

At the roundtable, attendees were keen to discuss the trends which will shape the FP&A landscape in 2023. Key areas raised included: 

  • Scenario planning and management: Referring to the ability to plan for a range of outcomes based on sound data, scenario planning and management gives companies greater agility and more effectiveness in facing turbulence and challenges. 
  • Integrated FP&A: By coordinating strategic, financial, and operational planning throughout a business, integrated FP&A connects different parts of the organisation across both functions and hierarchies.    
  • ESG and sustainability: Finance functions should be at the heart of a company’s sustainability strategy and ESG programme. In 2023, FP&A teams are working closely with other business areas to drive sustainable growth.
  • Technological innovations: From artificial intelligence (AI) to advanced analytics, emerging technologies have huge promise for FP&A. Teams who can capitalise on them will gain deeper insight into key performance drivers and make stronger decisions.  
  • A focus on people: FP&A leaders know that a business’s strongest asset is its people. That’s why they are collaborating with talent acquisition and development teams, with a focus on hiring, flexible working, and adapting to shifting workplace dynamics. 

Larysa Melnychuk, Founder and CEO of FP&A Trends commented:

“The FP&A function is evolving into an essential strategic framework for both finance leaders and decision-makers within businesses more broadly. In fact, FP&A helps to manage the value of the entire organisation. Its potential to do this comes from its unique ability to find the key drivers of success and influence the relevant stakeholders to make the right moves. But to realise its full potential, the FP&A industry will need to attract and retain professionals with the right soft and hard skillsets, effectively leverage digitalisation and emerging technologies, and build cultures rooted in collaboration, diversity, and shared values.

How can FP&A teams develop the talent they need?

There are five current roles - and two emerging ones - which will be essential to a forward-looking FP&A team in 2023 and beyond. Having these different skillsets onboard will enable the function to rise to the evolving demands of businesses.

The roles are:

  • The Architect: As big picture thinkers with deep knowledge of the relevant systems, architects bridge the gap between areas like finance, IT, and strategy.
  • The Analyst: The analyst uses their expertise in data analysis and reporting to evaluate projects, investments, and budgeting decisions, challenging assumptions and providing insights. 
  • The Data Scientist: As an increasing number of FP&A teams adopt predictive technologies like AI and machine learning, the data scientist uses these tools to augment their knowledge of finance disciplines, creating more robust planning models. 
  • The Storyteller: Skilled in simplifying complex issues through inclusive, flexible communication, the storyteller impactfully presents results, explaining what led to them and suggesting next steps. 
  • The Influencer: The influencer uses their leadership abilities, relationships, functional expertise, and analytical capabilities to influence and advise senior stakeholders on key decisions.
  • The Connector: With organisational integration becoming a top priority, the emerging role of the connector brings departments, systems, and people together to create proactive planning solutions capable of weathering uncertainty.
  • The Interpreter: Liaising between the business and the ‘analyst’ role, the interpreter provides the insights needed for storytelling, using various communication tools to help different audiences understand business decisions and priorities. 

What's next?

The world of financial planning and analysis is rapidly changing. The discipline is becoming a key strategic tool, and it’s essential that employers, finance leaders, and FP&A leaders continue to adapt their talent acquisition and development strategies accordingly.

In early 2023, The International FP&A Board held its 200th meeting in the Michael Page building in New York City. More than half of the organisations global meetings have been held in partnership with Michael Page and the wider PageGroup.

The International FP&A Board’s regular meetings, run by FP&A Trends, are an excellent venue for senior finance leaders wishing to understand global trends and developments in modern FP&A. We also encourage you to access the full FP&A Trends research paper on evolving FP&A team roles.

Michael Page’s 2023 Guide to Salaries and Hiring Strategy in Finance is another invaluable tool for employers to ensure they have the right skillsets within their teams and are offering the competitive salaries needed to attract top FP&A talent.

To discuss your hiring and talent needs in the FP&A space and across the wider finance function, get in touch with one of our specialists today.

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