One senior leader at a global private equity firm once admitted to us that the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) in its portfolio companies was a disaster. He went on to explain that he and his firm-level colleagues were frequently swooping in to patch things up before eventually seeing the same problems crop up a month later.
Who can blame him? Finding the right talent is incredibly challenging, given the fast-paced marketplace and often-inadequate systems which do not fully enable the necessary extraction of information for FP&A professionals to properly perform the functions of their roles.
Meeting your team’s FP&A needs is one of the most difficult yet important responsibilities in every organization. Even more challenging? There is no template on how exactly to address those needs. Variables include the size of the business; where the business exists in its life cycle; the types of products produced and / or services offered (B2B vs. B2C); and the general needs of the organization.
Understandably, those general needs have evolved over the years as companies sometimes struggle to keep up. To help, we have identified three types of FP&A pros:
This is how FP&A has always been considered, but don’t mistake “traditional” for outdated. Many companies still need a CPA who comes from the Big Four Public Accounting Firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC) and has a structured accounting background. This professional is needed to create spreadsheets and run macros to produce trend analysis, variance analysis and price-volume mix analysis. They essentially plan, monitor and report on revenue and expenses.
None of this seems cutting edge, but adequately satisfying those needs will result in meeting FP&A requirements in many companies. Businesses which are more mature and don’t have that “hockey-stick growth” don’t need a complex FP&A skill set, so a more traditional solution may be the most appropriate.
This is where most Charles Aris clients are today. Modern FP&A leaders not only have an accounting background (CPA) but a well-rounded business view (MBA) as well. They leverage more analytics and business intelligence technologies to provide quantitative / analytical support to decision-making. The modern approach takes the collective view of what needs to be done from a planning and analysis standpoint at the corporate level and incorporates each of the different business units.
This individual has all the skill sets mentioned above and then some. In addition to being a CPA and MBA, the ideal professional is a computer and data scientist who leverages technology to create real-time analytics and dashboards and provides integrated and collaborative planning that spans the entire organization.
Finding the perfect FP&A candidate differs depending on the needs of each client organization. As the aforementioned private equity executive shared with us, matching the proper pool of talent with the right organization is a difficult task, but it can be done with expertise and experience behind the wheel.
by Ryan Morgan and David Portney
Charles Aris Inc.