AFP’s commitment to advancing the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) profession is more evident than ever in 2016, with the introduction of the FP&A Advisory Council. This new group, comprised of top FP&A professionals from around the globe, will aid AFP’s staff in understanding current and developing areas of focus pertinent to FP&A.
Headed up by Nilly Essaides, AFP’s director of financial planning and analysis practice, the FP&A Advisory Council has a straightforward mission: to support AFP in its goal of being the global resource and advocate for the finance profession. The council intends to promote the interests of the FP&A profession in AFP’s development of resources on current and emerging topics in forecasting, planning, analysis, technology, modeling, strategy, and communications. It will also serve as the communication link between the service providers, consultants and thought leaders related to those topics and corporate finance professionals.
“The idea was to reach out to senior FP&A professionals around the globe and form a council that could provide a sounding board to figure out what is most important,” Essaides said. “We ended up with 36 professionals who, when they came aboard, committed to help AFP in whatever way they can.”
For Gaileon Thompson, CTP, FP&A, senior vice president, business planning and analysis, Citibank Global Consumer Technology and chairwoman of the FP&A Advisory Council, getting involved with the Advisory Council was an easy decision. “I was thrilled to see AFP launch the FP&A practice and create the FP&A Certification,” she said. “AFP will give our profession a voice and be an invaluable resource for FP&A professionals. When AFP needed volunteers to help promote the cause, I knew I had to be involved.”
The council also provides a unique opportunity for FP&A professionals to network with their peers and learn how they are addressing complex issues. “The value I see in the council is that you get the exposure to how other companies do things,” said council member Johnnie Goodner, CTP, vice president of finance, JP Energy Partners LP. “At the end of the day, the circumstances for every organization are different: we’re of different sizes, in different industries and have different budgeting, planning and forecasting processes.”
Given that the council is international, Michael Powers, manager, financial planning, analysis and treasury services for Abt Associates, sees opportunities for insights that he can share with his colleagues—particularly those in developing nations. “Abt Associates Inc. operates in over 60 countries, and many considered fragile or developing,” he said. “My hope is the council will help me in supporting my teammates, because we are a global and a for-profit company.”
Advancing the FP&A function
Some members even see the council as an opportunity to advance the status of the FP&A profession as a whole. “With the recent FP&A certification, the discipline has solidified new stature and momentum,” said Peter Geiler, FP&A, finance director for a large healthcare organization. “I would like to assist in maintaining that momentum and help the next generation of FP&A professionals be successful, so I am honored to receive an opportunity to participate.”
Likewise, Bryan L Williams, M.S., associate director, strategic planning and analysis for La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company, also sees the council as a means to contribute to the development and recognition of the FP&A function, as well as a resource for gleaning insights from his FP&A counterparts around the globe. “FP&A has changed quite a bit over the last decade and with changes in technology, new organizational norms, and the growing emphasis on analytics in many industries, I think that change is only going to continue,” he said.
Council member Dubos J. Masson, Ph.D., CTP, FP&A, associate clinical professor of finance for the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, noted that FP&A is a critical area to the financial health of any organization. He believes a council of professionals in FP&A would be a great stimulus for helping to both define FP&A goals and determine its future. “I see FP&A as the ‘coming thing’ in the finance area in terms of professional certifications, and I want to be able to keep up to speed with the area so I can better teach my students here at the Kelley School of Business,” he said.
According to Masson, who has been involved with AFP as a consultant, trainer and curriculum developer for more than 30 years, the development of the FP&A Certification program is one of the best decisions that AFP has made. “In the early days of the AFP, they created the Certified Cash Management (CCM) credential to bring both structure and professionalism to the cash management area,” he said. “The transition to the treasury management certification (CTP) and the expansion into a wider range of financial professions was the next big step. Expanding into the FP&A field is the right thing to do and it will bring long-term benefits to both AFP and the profession. As a group of leading FP&A professionals, the council should be a valuable resource in helping AFP and the profession to make the most out of this endeavor.”
See the full list of professionals on the FP&A Advisory Council here.