What does a FP&A Manager do?
The role of an FP&A Manager is to implement, develop and provide commercial financial analysis on KPIs giving data driven insights to aid decision making. Varying business to business, the FP&A function will manage all data and dissemination of commercial results across the business, so the relevant tools are being provided to support the growth of a business.
Fundamental skills that are required in order to be a successful FP&A Manager, include:
CIMA, ACCA or ACA Qualified (Please note in some circumstances a route in commercial finance may not include an accountancy qualification;
Advanced Excel Skills. This can include the ability to interpret SQL and a growing requirement for dashboard creation using tools such as Power BI;
Taking a data driven approach to everything;
A strong commercial acumen;
A real aptitude for working with numbers;
Excellent ability to make informed decisions; and
Confident communication and presentation skills.
Are there any similar roles to an FP&A Manager?
The role of FP&A Manager falls within the remit of commercial finance, and as stated above, has a sole focus on interpreting and communicating data in order to drive informed decision making. These responsibilities can often be found in other roles that sit within commercial finance. Similar titles will include Finance Business Partner, Senior Commercial Analyst or Commercial Finance Manager. As the commercial function tends to be smaller, and therefore flatter than a core finance function, titles with “Manager” can often refer to the level of seniority, rather than the management of a team. If you were to manage a team, it is likely these teams will consist of part qualified individuals going through their CIMA Qualification, and most likely holding data analyst positions.
Whilst an FP&A role can be grouped with the job titles stated above, it tends to be the one position that does not have any overlap with traditional finance duties. In other roles your responsibility may include some month end management accounts, whereas within FP&A your monthly duties would remain focused on the management of KPIs in line with company and customer requirements.
A similarity that FP&A has to other titles, such as Finance Business Partner and Commercial Finance Manager, is the responsibility to share financial performance across the business to various stakeholders. This varies dramatically from business to business, and dependent on the set up of the finance function, the FP&A Manager may not have responsibility in this area if the employer has Finance Business Partners assigned to different departments. The partnering aspect of these roles does vary, but the fundamental analysis and interpretation of commercial data remains the same.
How do I become a FP&A Manager?
There are multiple entry routes you can take to obtain a FP&A Manager role, all of which have the potential to support an ongoing career in finance. Below are a short summary of the three most common routes:
Possibly the most straight forward route. A Commercial Analyst role tends to sit with an FP&A department and is tasked with the responsibility to run various reports using in-house systems and excel in preparation for analysis and communication. These roles are often taken by those studying their CIMA Qualifications and, as you develop, more commercial analysis is required, rather than simply running reports. This is a common pathway as the fundamental data skillset required in FP&A will be taught early on to ensure a strong foundation has been built.
The role of a Management Accountant will vary business to business but at its core is the monthly reporting of business performance through various means. Within some Management Accountant roles individuals can begin to pick up commercial exposure, providing further commentary and analysis on KPIs, alongside the legal requirements. This tends to be a common route for people as they look to remove aspects of the role they don’t enjoy (journals, balance sheet recs etc) and spend more time on duties that deem to add more value such as KPI reporting.
ACA Practice leaver
Possibly the hardest route straight into FP&A is to come directly from practice. A move from practice requires an individual to leverage as much of their existing technical skillset as possible, whilst trying to transition into a whole new way of working. FP&A and other commercial positions are considered to be as far removed from a typical audit role as possible, and are therefore more of a challenge. However, the soft skillset gained in practice (stakeholder management) and the analysis capability required during audits, will provide a strong foundation to build on. Those who make this move are often hired by individuals who have also acquired an ACA Qualification having made a similar move earlier on in their career. This is essential as it provides the building blocks to receive strong mentorship and support as you grow into a new role with a significant change in responsibilities.
Typical duties for an FP&A Manager:
Design and implement financial models to aid key business decision making;
Play a pivotal role between finance teams and stakeholders (BI teams, Operations etc);
Management reporting: support the forecasting and budgeting process;
Support the strategic business planning process, providing essential analysis on KPIs;
Manage the relationships with external system provides to ensure robust systems and platforms used for data analysis;
Research, analyse, reconcile, and validate a variety of data sets and information to inform business decisions; and
Prepare pre and post project appraisals.