FP&A Team Building in Focus of the London FP&A Board

By Larysa Melnychuk, Managing Director at FP&A Trends group

The London FP&A Board was created on the 19th September 2013 to guide the development and promotion of best practices in financial planning and analysis (FP&A).

On 20th April 2017, 20 FP&A professionals from such companies as Barclays, Coats, the Economist Group, Kraft Heinz, NetApp, Starbucks Coffee Company, Visa, etc., participated in the 16th London FP&A Board meeting. The event was proudly sponsored by Michael Page, one of the world's leading professional recruitment consultancies, and Tagetik, the market leader in corporate performance management solutions.

The main focus of the interactive discussion in London was FP&A Team Building.

At the beginnning, the Board looked closely into the key skills an ideal FP&A professional must possess. It was concluded that the analytical skills, good communication and stakeholder management skills, ability to see both the big picture and the details, commercial curiosity and business acumen, strong leadership as well as the understanding of technology add up to the list of important skills of an ideal FP&A professional.

However, to become an ideal FP&A professional one must also be a good business partner, a good interpreter of data and have a personality type that thrives on new ideas and creative thinking, rather than just number crunching. Surprising as it may seem, the Board defined creativity as the skill of paramount importance in modern FP&A.
It is hardly arguable that there are so many requirements to a modern FP&A professional that are difficult to be met by one person, that building effective FP&A teams with complementary skills are seen as the easiest solution under the circumstances. 

Mark Gandy, Free Agent CFO from the USA, created an excellent model of FP&A team roles. They were well received by the Board, the participants really related with the examples from their companies.

However, they came up with the idea of the additional Influencer role and mutually agreed that it is becoming very critical in the modern FP&A team as well.

One of the fundamental principles of the FP&A Board work is looking into practical case studies. We were happy to have Maria Olsson, former Head of Group FP&A, Coats Group plc., as our keynote speaker. She not only gave an excellent presentation on Team Building in FP&A but also shared her valuable insights and her first-hand experience with us. 
She began with the definition of a team in the wider context of an organisational culture where the shift from command & control to the empowered & adaptive organisation had to take place.

Furthermore, Maria focused on the evolution of the finance function and specifically FP&A that must develop from accounting & reporting  to insightful prediction of performance. In the end, she described the positive teamwork in action and shared some success stories. The main conclusions of Maria’s presentation are presented in the slide below.
As usual, the discussion and networking part of the meeting was very productive. The members enjoyed the opportunity to network with each other and discuss the latest FP&A trends and best practices as well as being the part of our global FP&A community.

To summarise, the Board agreed that FP&A Talent is hard to find, as an FP&A professional needs to possess good Analytical Skills, Communication and Business Partnering Skills. This is the reason why around 70% of the British CFOs and up to 80% of the American CFOs say that FP&A is the most difficult position to fill.

It is no surprise that finding the happy combination of these skills in one person has become a real challenge, so the best way out is to build an effective FP&A team and fill the team roles. Moreover, the research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85% of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical knowledge. It is a good reminder for modern organisations to pay attention and invest in the development of their FP&A teams.

The next London FP&A Board will gather in autumn 2017 to discuss Beyond Budgeting Philosophy. 

Stay in touch with our global FP&A community through the FP&A Club LinkedIn Group and the FP&A Trends resource.  Please do not hesitate to join and to contribute to the discussions, posts, and commentaries and let me know if you are interested in sharing an original article or practical case study at one of the 12 FP&A Boards in Europe, Middle East, Asia and the USA.

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