A position as a Director of FP&A is a natural step for all analysts looking to progress their careers. Although there is still a lot of competition for jobs in this area, there are now noticeably more roles available as many companies focus on growth.
FP&A jobs are in high demand at present. Competition in the market is fierce, so employers can afford to be picky. The ability to thrive in a business-partner environment, more specifically to explain financial figures to senior business leaders in non-finance related positions is crucial. A big part of being a Director of FP&A involves helping business heads understand exactly what the numbers mean and the commercial impact they will have on the business. Being able to support business leaders with their plans for the future is also critical. Therefore, a Director of FP&A needs to be extremely personable and have strong communication skills.
"Budgeting and forecasting are also key aspects of the role and those who can demonstrate the strongest blend of analytical and commercial skills will be at a distinct advantage." - Nick Louca, Associate Director (Robert Walters, New York).
It is commonly underestimated just how commercial these positions are - many believe being a Director of FP&A is just about providing the numbers, but this is one of the more forward-looking analysis roles you can do. Directors of FP&A are essential in building five-year plans and KPIs, influencing change, building the business case for new product launches and analyzing the viability of the business’ expansion into new territories.
This forward-looking aspect of the position is also one of the main reasons for the role’s popularity. So how do you ensure that you stand out in an increasingly competitive market? In order to ensure you secure a role as a Director of FP&A, you need to not only meet all of the position requirements, but exceed them. Accountants who successfully progress into these roles generally have substantial planning and analysis experience under their belt. As FP&A roles are more commonly found in big blue chip companies, having this background is essential. You also need to focus on highlighting your achievements and relaying the value you have added to the business, over and above the role duties. Many companies also seek specific software experience and common requirements include knowledge of SAP, Hyperion and Cognos.
For successful Directors of FP&A, the future can be very bright - typically the most successful spend three to four years in the role, before progressing. The natural career path for a Director of FP&A would be to manage a larger P&L or become a Finance Director or Commercial Finance Director before ultimately becoming a COO.
A position as a Director of FP&A is a natural step for all analysts looking to progress their careers.
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