When financial planning and analysis professionals gather you can be sure they’ll quickly start thinking about the big picture—and the latest FP&A Roundtable in Chicago hosted by Peloton Group was no exception.
“It’s fascinating to hear FP&A discuss the state of the industry,” said Philip Peck, vice president with Peloton Group. “They’re very thoughtful and they inevitably think of challenges and opportunities that would never occur to me.”
Here were the five major themes discussed by attendees at the Chicago FP&A Roundtable:
- What is the real purpose of the financial forecast? Is it a management tool to drive specific behaviors (e.g. adherence to the original plan) or should it be the best, most realistic estimate of expected future financial performance?
- What is the appropriate level of detail? If it possible to forecast at a higher more summary level of detail while still addressing the expected management questions? Given that we have a very detailed process today, how do we change the cultural mindset where executives are now demanding a monthly forecast.
- What tips and tricks can others share especially if they have moved to a more dynamic, driver-based rolling forecast?
- What do you define as good forecast accuracy? Should we also be measuring the quality of assumptions along with forecast accuracy?
- How can we optimally use forecasts to driver better decision-making?
- Talent Management
- How do we get more young people involved in the FP&A and finance professions?
- How do we get more woman involved?
- What is the best background profile in terms of job candidates?
- What skills are required today and tomorrow for FP&A practitioners?
- How are the requisite skills changing given business partnering demands, the need to provide more advanced analytics, and other changes (e.g. big data, visualization, etc.)?
- Business Partnering
- What are the critical few things that move the dial in the organization and how does FP&A ensure that the organization has laser like focus in the areas?
- How do we create “challenge” in our teams to raise the bar, encourage people to explore uncharted waters, deliver unique insights, and help drive the business?
- How do we ensure that we focus on the larger context of business performance analysis vs. just traditional financial analysis?
- Enabling Technology
- What are the best of breed tools available for analytics including data management, visualization, and predictive modeling?
“Often times FP&A Roundtable attendees leave the meeting with more questions than answers,” said Jeff Glenzer, chief operating officer for the Association for Financial Professionals, which co-hosted the Chicago event. “That’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay because it means attendees leave thinking about what really matters to FP&A. Broadly speaking that means they’re thinking ahead.”
Learn more about the FP&A Roundtables here.