The career path of a financial planner and analyst in a company is more unconventional than that of similar surrounding roles, such as that of financial controller or treasury.
This can actually be an advantage for anyone looking to go into this role, with progression being more flexible as years of experience are gained.
It can be quite difficult to provide an accurate job roadmap for every FP&A role, however, a more typical careerpath would follow a route such as this:
1. Recieve an Undergraduate Degree in General Management or Accounting.
2. Spend between 2 to 4 years in one of the Big4 Accountancy Firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG), one of the big Consulting firms (McKinsey, Deloitte), banking or finance department of a Fortune500 company.
3. Following this you look to get a MBA (Masters of Business Administration). Many F500 companies do hire for FP&A roles at a senior level from B-schools.
4. Get hired as a Senior FP&A Analyst.
5. Promotion to FP&A Manager.
6. Promotion to FP&A Director.
Roles in FP&A
The following is a typical progression from a junior role to a more senior level of experience:
Role description: The backbone job of financial planning and analysis. The standard responsibilities of the analyst include data collection, model development and maintenance, as well as coordination among the many stakeholders.
Salary: $50,000 to $70,000, plus bonuses.
Experience Required: A typical candidate will have 1-3 years of finance-related experience under their belt. The practise of hiring immediately out of undergrad is uncommon, but it does occur in larger corporations.
FP&A Senior Analyst
Role description: A Senior Analyst is often in charge of supervising junior analysts and managing projects, although he or she is still very much involved in the financial modelling process.
Salary: $65,000 to $85,000, plus bonuses.
Experience Required: Holder of an MBA are hired as senior analysts. Individuals with a consulting or banking background are preferred for this position, just as they are for the more junior role of an FP&A analyst. The standard senior analyst has between 3-5years’ experience within the relevant field.
Role description: An FP&A Manager is in charge of business forecasting. He or she looks at the company's finances with a critical eye - trying to spot data anomalies, trends, or deviations - and then introduces strategies for improvement.
Salary: $85,000 to $115,000, plus bonuses.
Experience Required: Managerial positions in financial planning and analysis often have between 5 – 10 years of experience. The most common route for managers is through internal company promotion, via lateral hiring, or employing through one of the big consulting firms. Nearly all managers will have either an MBA or be a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
Director / Vice-President of FP&A
Role description: Any directorial FP&A role is responsible for ensuring finance strategy delivers business growth and robust analysis to enable effective decision making.
Salary: $100,000 to $250,000, with additional stock options and bonuses.
Experience Required: Directorial roles requires ten years and above of expertise leading corporate planning cycles, establishing new processes, and serving as project manager for a variety of initiatives.
Potential Career Progression after Director / Vice President
Most FP&A specialists, after reaching the Director/VP level, tend to stay in the field, either within their current organisation or at other organisations.
Directors can advance internally in major corporations by taking on responsibility for larger profit and loss accounts.
Transitioning to the CFO post is exceptionally difficult as there is only one position available, although the FP&A function, as well as the controller and treasury functions, have all been identified as potential stepping stones to the CFO role.
Those looking for this type of transfer are frequently interested in rotating to other critical departments within the firm, such as a Controller, Business Development, Corporate Development, or Operational Management.
To be considered for the CFO position, you must have a diverse combination of skills and experience.
Even more uncommon is the opportunity to advance to the position of CEO.
Many successful FP&A professionals choose to go down the entrepreneurial path, establishing businesses in a variety of industries as a result of their inquisitive and analytical temperament.