With the arrival of 2013, AFP asked several of the FP&A newsletter editorial board members—all practitioners—for their thoughts on the year in financial planning and analysis.
Andrew Magley, Vice President-Financial Planning & Analysis, Unisource Worldwide:
Biggest FP&A challenge in 2013? “Our systems consolidations and implementations of Hyperion and Oracle financials while maintaining the status quo.”
Biggest FP&A success in 2012? “Implementation of a new, activity-based-costing custom software to drive awareness of business drivers and change the culture of the organization from a sales growth focus to a contribution growth focus.”
Your economic outlook for 2013? “Moderate growth, exceeding the U.S. forecast for GDP growth.”
What surprised you in 2012? “Rates continued to decline.”
Tom Russell, Director of Financial Reporting, Health Care REIT:
Your biggest FP&A challenge in 2013? “We are implementing Hyperion Financial Management, with a target date of October 1, 2013, to be ready for year-end close and to load the 2014 budget. Also, we are closing on our largest acquisition in company history ($3 billion) in early 2013, hence necessitating the need for a consolidation tool like HFM.”
Your biggest FP&A success in 2012? “Migrating all of our XBRL tagging in-house using IBM Cognos FSR.”
Your economic outlook for 2013? “The market is good for real estate companies like Health Care REIT. Interest rates are low, as well as prices. We continue to expect to grow throughout the year.”
What surprised you in 2012? “Record profits from companies in spite of continued economic weakness was the biggest surprise for me. Companies have learned to have optimum pricing, efficient cost structures, and expand internationally in faster growth markets.”
John Hamrick, Senior Financial Executive and Director of FP&A, Seamans & Associates:
Your biggest FP&A challenge in 2013? “The challenges I anticipate for clients in 2013 will be refining cashflow projections to smaller cycle periods and improving business valuation on start-ups.”
Your biggest FP&A success in 2012? “Our big success for a client in 2012 was developing a Monte Carlo simulation of sales pipeline and structuring a project-driven cashflow model.”
Your economic outlook for 2013? “I have a guarded outlook on 2013. It feels like we are driving into a fog and the instinct is to slow down a pray you don’t hit something.”
David Mann, Director of Finance, Constant Contact:
Your biggest FP&A challenge in 2013? “My biggest challenge is continuing to look across the organization to optimize investments.”
Your biggest FP&A success in 2012? “One success was building in sensitivity analysis in all that we do so we can understand the range of outcomes and plan accordingly.”
Todd Patterson, CTP, Manager-Business Planning & Services, PPL Electric Utilities:
Your biggest FP&A challenge in 2013? “One of the biggest challenges we continue to face is the accuracy of forecasting. While external variables will continue to fluctuate, the challenge remains to forecast projects’ cash flows, accruals, and milestone achievements to a level of accuracy that reduces material variances.”
Your biggest FP&A success in 2012? “Responses to external variables have been a success in 2012, but managing variables generally within our control continues to be a challenge."
Thomas W. Smith, Director, Financial Planning & Analysis, Home Systems Division, Legrand, North America:
What surprised you in 2012? “An interesting sign of the times is that treasurers and cash managers were increasingly willing to acknowledge that they were sitting on excess cash—keeping it on the sidelines so to speak—in order to avoid market risk. Obviously, it’s a completely rational position to take in today’s world, but it also represents a very striking contrast to the thinking, actions, and statements of previous decades.”
This article was excerpted from the latest issue of FP&A.