An MBA or similar advanced degree is a traditional career route for finance jobseekers. There is, however, another alternative that will definitely help you stand out from the crowd and may just be your ticket to the most sought-out position in finance today… a certification in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A).
Part art, part science, FP&A gives you a holistic view of the entire business. You have an opportunity to be an integral part of the strategy that drives the growth of your organization. As an FP&A pro, you will need to consider all facets of the business, bridging finance and the numerous stakeholders across the organization.
And the fact is, companies all over the world are looking for people with the skills and knowledge to help them strategize, grow and stand out in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. Finance is an important component of the engine that drives a company toward greater profits and increased market share. And earning a certification in FP&A is a great way to demonstrate to a prospective employer that you have the commitment and skills to help the company flourish.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit, three of the top academic disciplines employers most eagerly seek are graduates in finance, accounting and business administration. It’s a perfect time for people looking to advance their careers in finance and to hone their skills. And earning a certification is an economical, time-efficient way to do that.
The FP&A certification program is a self-directed effort that allows you to study at your own pace—on your own schedule. It’s also cost-effective. The fees for working toward a certification in FP&A add up about $2,400, including the study materials. Compare that with tuition at a major university for an MBA program, which can cost as much as $168,000. A certification program also allows you to continue working at your current position while you learn—online or in person.
Employers are clearly hungry for finance talent. A recent Deloitte survey said that more than 70 percent of CFOs worry that their team members lack “consultative, partnering, analytical and technical skills.” And according to Accenture, finance executives are saying that upgrading their finance staffs’ skills is a top investment priority. Holding the FP&A credential will give you a leg up on the competition.
Another telling fact: According to knowledge management research firm APQC, 64 percent of finance executives report that FP&A positions are the hardest to fill. This is a simple supply and demand equation. Get certified in FP&A, and increase your value immensely.
Find more about the certification here.
Jim Kaitz is president and CEO of the Association for Financial Professionals.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.