After a long hiatus related to the COVID-19 restrictions, the meetings of the International FP&A Board in Stockholm have finally been restarted. The first post-pandemic event was held on the 25th of April in the beautiful Regus venue. 27 senior FP&A leaders from leading companies such as Coca-Cola, Scania, Saab, Pirelli, J&J, SEB, Jones Lang LaSalle and many others reflected on lessons learned from the Pandemic.
Figure 1: The Stockholm FP&A Board Members (April 2023)
We are grateful to representatives of such companies for joining the meeting:
- Jones Lange LaSalle Inc.,
- Assa Abloy Global Solutions,
- Barilla Sverige AB,
- and many others.
Larysa Melnychuk, the founder of the International FP&A Board, facilitated the conversation at this forum.
The agenda of the event included the following points:
- FP&A for the Next Normal,
- Top lessons learned from the Pandemic,
- Practical experience of the lessons learned from the Pandemic, shared by Ji-Hyun Hwang, Ph.D., Business Control at Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, Stockholm FP&A Board member,
- Small groups work, conclusions and recommendations.
After a short introduction, the attendees shared the biggest lessons the Pandemic taught them. They are:
- everything can happen,
- agility is key,
- creating value is another way to manage uncertainty,
- collaboration should be one of the primary concerns,
- digital transformation can help stay afloat,
- Scenario Planning has become crucial,
- fast adaptation was needed,
- and many companies had to be mature to work remotely.
What Have FP&A Professionals Learned from the Pandemic?
Larysa Melnychuk asked the forum about how we can plan for uncertainty. This question ignited a forward-looking discussion, during which the FP&A Board Members agreed on the suitable approaches to navigate the ever-changing business environment. According to the event attendees, these were as follows:
Lesson 1 – Scenario Management
Figure 2: Scenario Management can help handle uncertainty
Lesson 2 - Extended Planning and Analysis
It is a journey to analytical excellence that involves:
- x - cross-functional planning and moving beyond finance,
- aligning strategic, financial, and operational plans,
- Digital Transformation (tools & processes).
Furthermore, the forum discussed adopting a cross-functional FP&A strategy and six success factors for integrating the three abovementioned plans.
Lesson 3 – Critical Roles for Best-in-Class FP&A Team
Traditionally, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) teams were made of analysts. Today, synergistic teams must be multi-skilled in this incredible environment of constant change and uncertainties.
We can see five critical FP&A roles that are necessary to fulfil demands from the business and the wider environment:
Two emerging roles, the FP&A Interpreter and FP&A Connector, are gaining popularity, and not all have these specialists in their teams.
Lesson 4 – Digital FP&A
Figure 3: FP&A Teams’ Time Distribution
Digital FP&A trends were the last item on the list of crucial learnings. Larysa Melnychuk explained why many FP&A teams still spend their time on low-value activities based on the recent FP&A Trends Survey findings.
Practical Insights from the Field
Figure 4: Ji-Hyun Hwang shares her insights during the Stockholm FP&A Board, April 2023
Ji-Hyun Hwang, Business Control at Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, was invited to be a speaker. In her presentation, she outlined what SEB has learned, emphasising the necessity of creating a business continuity plan for your FP&A team.
Figure 5: Key takeaways, Ji-Hyun’s presentation at the Stockholm FP&A Board, April 2023
Right after it, Ji-Hyun shared her insights on Performance Management. According to her presentation, FP&A teams can be sustainability ambassadors of the business. Moreover, wise leadership, agility, and implied technology become important factors for organisational success.
Figure 6: Group Work, the Stockholm FP&A Board, April 2023
At the end of the meeting, the FP&A Board attendees were split into three groups to discuss three following aspects:
- Moving from traditional planning to Scenario Management,
- Practical steps to implement xP&A, and
- How can organisations prepare for analytical transformation?
After vivid discussions, it was clear that many professionals face the same issues that must be addressed on our journey towards better FP&A practices. The session ended with networking, where all participants could share their thoughts with fellow industry experts.