FP&A Analyst: Rebecca Walker Explains What a Career in Financial Planning and Analysis Entails

Article excerpt

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is a cerebral role that's integral to any financial services company. My consultancy is seeing an increase in the number of such vacancies in the sector. FP&A teams sit in the middle office or finance section of a bank or other financial services provider and, while they don't generate revenue directly, they play a key role in determining the profit of the revenue-generating business stream to which they are attached.

They do this through rigorous financial analysis based on the performance of the business. They add value by understanding the factors that could affect revenues, plus the cost of the key people and resources that support the revenue-generating teams.

In addition, they create the financial plans that will move the enterprise forward. These are often expansive, covering every associated factor and cost that will shape the front-office operations. They are the people who create the blueprints for increasing or maintaining profits.

With regard to the job advertised above, which is for a managerial role at one of the market-leading investment banks, there's also an emphasis on analysing business performance. By understanding the costs incurred by all the people who work in the finance teams handling accounts, improving systems or ensuring compliance and relating these back to revenue, the FP&A team ensures that the board appreciates how the whole business fits together.

An FP&A role at this level is particularly suitable for CIMA members because the kind of analysis involved is directly relevant to the core modules of the qualification. In the case of investment banking and this specific vacancy, the successful applicant will need to understand how investment bankers generate revenue. A stock market crash, for example, will clearly affect the income generated by a trading desk.

This required knowledge can be highly specific--for instance, an in-depth understanding of a particular product class. We have noticed that these roles often arise at a more junior level, where candidates with top-calibre academic qualifications and experience in business analysis can get a foot in the door of a financial services company.

At the newly or recently qualified level, candidates with experience of working in a related industry in core finance--for example, management or financial accounting--are ideally placed to move into FP&A because they are already familiar with the data they would have to start to analyse and use for planning. …