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FP&A: A Growing Profession

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 2/4/2014
This month, financial planning and analysis professionals from all around the world are testing their knowledge in the first global exam for the Association for Financial Professionals’ FP&A Certification. Brian Kalish, AFP’s FP&A practice lead, has been meeting with corporate practitioners for the past two years about FP&A and has found no shortage of interest in the field and the upcoming certification.

In the past month, Kalish’s travels have taken him to Tampa and Dallas. The coming months will likely see him in San Diego, Chicago, Orlando, Brussels, Houston, Minneapolis, the Netherlands and Paris. Both inside and outside the U.S., Kalish is seeing a big push for FP&A from many companies.

“We see a big push for FP&A in Canada, the UK and in Ireland,” said Kalish. “We’ve had other folks that have been holding meetings in London, Kiev, Moscow and AFP CEO and President Jim Kaitz has been to Dubai. So that’s where we’ve been so far. But the footprint is the whole world.”

The good thing about many of the international markets Kalish has been visiting is that unlike in the U.S., it’s possible to essentially cover a whole country with a visit to one city. “If you look at a place like Argentina, we likely wouldn’t have to go anywhere other than Buenos Aires,” he said. “In Brazil, it’s tough to see us going beyond São Paulo. So it’s more of a regional trip. We look at where the companies are, and try to find something to anchor it. So we’ll get a couple companies together, or attend or speak at conferences.”

One key benefit that AFP is trying to provide FP&A professionals is the tools they need to network locally. “For example, if I’m in Tampa, one of the things I’ll ask is, ‘Who else do you know in Tampa that is doing FP&A outside of your company?’ And often the answer is, ‘No one.’ There’s no networking component. It’s great to go on our LinkedIn page and find 3,300 FP&A people around the world. But career-wise, you want to meet people that are in your general geographic location that are doing what you’re doing,” said Kalish.

Empirical Data

Following the first two rounds of testing, which run from February through March and August through September, AFP will have some empirical data that will help it determine where the most interest in FP&A lies. “Rather than trying to figure out which of the 200 countries we should be going to, we’ll find out where they actually are,” Kalish said. “That will help guide our efforts going forward. If we see a lot of interest in say, Brazil, China and India, then we may start deploying assets in a different way.”

Fortunately, AFP is already narrowing down the search. Although the process of finding people is ongoing, FP&A professionals are seeking out AFP about the certification. “We’re seeing people reach out to us because we’ve raised the profile with the beta exam,” Kalish said. “Now that the certification is real, people are coming to us and asking us questions.”

Kalish noted that while there are still some geographical areas that have yet to be covered, as more empirical evidence comes to light, certain areas may be targeted more. “For example, if we see a whole lot of interest in Singapore, then we’ll see if it makes sense to go there. We’re not just saying, ‘Hey, I think there might be a lot of interest in Spain, so let’s go there and see what we can find,’” he said.

Next Steps

Beginning this month, AFP is holding the first in a series of FP&A roundtable discussions. “We’ve partnered with Peloton to do quarterly roundtables with them. So after Chicago, we’re probably going to be in Boston and then Houston. We may also be doing a separate series of roundtables in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC.”

Internationally, AFP has been sponsoring FP&A Club Roundtables in London, Kiev, Moscow and other regions.

AFP has also been seeing a lot of interest from regional AFP groups, now that the FP&A Certification is nearly here. The regionals are trying to find out if it makes sense for them to become involved and seek out FP&A professionals. “The plus for a regional is a whole new universe of potential members, but they have to build out the content for them. And that’s what they have to decide—FP&A professionals aren’t going to be interested in cash management or payments; they’re interested in predictive analytics and forecasting. But there’s a lot more interest because the certification is real and it’s coming down the pike,” Kalish said.

Learn more about the FP&A Certification here. Parties interested in meeting with Brian Kalish to discuss FP&A can reach him here.
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