An in-depth look at FP&A-related topics that are developed via interviews with finance professionals. Presented as quarterly case studies with practical applications and tools to help you make informed decisions about key FP&A methods.

The Transition from Accounting to FP&A

FPAG-22 Accounting to FP&A web banner

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is growing more and more attractive to accounting personnel for good reasons. It has fewer regulations to follow, making it less of a bureaucratic maze, and, for the right person, the intellectual challenge of forecasting and planning and the opportunity to impact the direction of the company is appealing. 

For those interested in transitioning their careers from accounting to FP&A, the AFP FP&A Guide: The Transition from Accounting to FP&A, lays out the differences and steps needed to make the change. Learn what it takes to transition and how there are many skills needed to make it successful. 

 The FP&A Guide includes:  

  • The Opportunity in FP&A – why FP&A is different and the new ways to approach finance
  • The Objective Function – why transitioning from accounting to FP&A first requires the realization that each discipline has different objective functions
  • Finance and Business Acumen – the differing views between capital reporting and capital allocation
  • Technology and Data – the different tools used in both accounting and FP&A 
  • Personal and Team Effectiveness – the transition requires being comfortable with risk, making recommendations, and knowing some decisions may be reversed
  • Our goal is to broaden the capabilities of both accounting and FP&A professionals as we all work towards the expanded success of the finance profession. 

    The Opportunity in FP&A 

    For many years, a robust accounting function sufficed for many organizations concerned with preparing a budget, reporting the numbers, and filing SEC documentation. In recent years, organizations realized they needed staff with finance skills to improve forecasting and modeling and to work with the business. The maturation of the FP&A function has led to increased specialization and accelerated expertise on that team. This section also explores:  

  • Why FP&A Needs Accountants
  • Moving Into FP&A

  • The Objective Function 

    While both are under the CFO umbrella, transitioning from accounting to FP&A first requires the realization that they have different objective functions. Accounting’s goal is to create a book of record of financial transactions in a standardized way; FP&A’s goal is to apply its finance and accounting acumen to support decisions and drive business performance.  

    Finance and Business Acumen 

    The differing views between capital reporting and capital allocation are considered in three areas:  

    1. decision-making
    2. reporting
    3. metrics

    Technology and Data  

    Accounting’s tools and data are designed to meet its goal by getting data into the general ledger to establish the record, serve as the basis for financial reporting, and meet compliance objectives. FP&A needs that information as a foundation, then chops it up, adds operational and market data, and feeds various management reporting and information systems for alignment and action. 

    Personal and Team Effectiveness  

    Transitioning from accounting to FP&A requires comfort with risk, comfort with making recommendations and decisions knowing that the data is imperfect, facts change, and you may need to reverse decisions. 

    Making the Transition 

    There are a lot of valuable skills accounting professionals can bring to the FP&A role. Yet there’s also a lot they must learn. Find out how Rachel Yau, CPA joined an FP&A team and the skills she needed to be successful which included:

  • Improving her Excel financial modeling skills
  • Building up her product, business and industry knowledge
  • Developing better soft skills such as communication, negotiation, interpersonal skills, influencing skills, business partnering and business acumen

  • Download the Guide


    Published July 7, 2022