A global symbol of excellence, the Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis Professional (FPAC) designation establishes a set of core competencies for the corporate financial planning and analysis (FP&A) profession. It is the only credential that is specific to FP&A; it is forward-looking and assesses the ability to see the big picture.
AFP recently caught up with Nozomi Abe, FPAC, financial analyst at Qualcomm in Japan, to discuss her decision to earn the FPAC, and how it has affected her life and career journey.
AFP: How did you get your start in FP&A?
Nozomi: When I decided to enroll in FPAC program, I was working as finance manager at solar power producer. My role encompassed quite a wide range of finance and tax duties, including producing management account, cash management, coordinating external audit, managing banking relationship, among others. Having worked in the role for more than five years, I felt there was little room for professional growth.
Through interactions with the FP&A team in the company, I learned that FP&A adds value to the business because leaders always want to see how the company is performing and how it will perform in the future. Therefore, I decided to enroll in FPAC program to see what it was like to work in an FP&A role. While studying for the FPAC, a recruiter contacted me on LinkedIn and introduced to me the role I am currently working in. After a series of interview with my current employer, I was able to get a firm offer for the role.
AFP: What are two or three core aspects of your day-to-day job?
Nozomi: My job focuses mostly on annual operating budget, quarterly forecast updates, and monthly budget vs. actuals reporting. I also support my manager building business partnership with other business functions. On a daily basis, I review and approve purchase requisitions to check that it does not exceed the spending limits.
AFP: What is something that you would like to do in the future in FP&A?
Nozomi: In the future, I would like to leverage more financial modelling and apply it to resolve business questions. My immediate goal is to build financial models that aids in decision-making of internal stakeholders. Financial modelling is a tool that provides insight into how we can improve future business performance. We are also an area where FP&A can greatly add value to the organization.
AFP: Are there certain skills or training that help you in what you do now?
Nozomi: Understanding the role of FP&A in an organization helps me a lot in business partnering with internal stakeholders. In Japan, FP&A is perceived as a new expertise, so it is often mistaken as accounting or business controlling. Before enrolling in the FPAC program, I did not even have much knowledge of the difference between managerial accounting and FP&A. Understanding of the role of FP&A helps me to function effectively and understand what is expected of my role.
AFP: What skill are most important to you to add over the next couple of years?
Nozomi: My career in FP&A has just begun, so I am still exploring ways to better perform some of my core responsibilities. Business partnering is the most important skill for me. In FP&A, it is required to be deeply engaged with the business. Understanding the business and its changing environment is as important as your financial modelling skills.
AFP: What is the most critical FP&A issue you are facing today, and can you share your approach to it?
Nozomi: One of the biggest issues right now is that business leaders are being faced with the changing needs of office space to adapt to remote working during the coronavirus pandemic. I am working to provide scenario analysis on business performance using different assumptions of office space utilization.
AFP: Why did you decide to earn the FPAC credential?
Nozomi: The reason I earned the FPAC credential was to develop confidence in my skills and eventually to move to a role focused on FP&A. During the job interview for my current employer, I demonstrated my passion for the expertise by mentioning that I was enrolled in FPAC program. It made a great difference in getting through the fierce competition with other candidates.
AFP: How has the FPAC credential impacted your life/career?
Nozomi: Since I wrote on my LinkedIn profile that I was enrolled in the FPAC program and working to earn the credential, a recruiter who saw my profile reached out and introduced to me my current job. I am satisfied that I could transition smoothly from financial management to an FP&A role.
AFP: Would you recommend the FPAC to others? Why?
Nozomi: I would highly recommend the FPAC credential for anyone who wants to develop their career in FP&A. You can develop both confidence in your skills and knowledge by learning the best practices of FP&A expertise.
Learn more about the FPAC designation.