The Role of FP&A: Help Drive Financial Planning, Forecasting, Reporting & Business Analysis

Role of FP&A

In the world of accounting, FP&A stands for Financial Planning & Analysis.

People in FP&A work primarily in business forecasting and reports.

If you have strong skills in analysis and acumen for defining the big picture, this might just be the role for you.

Read on to learn what an FP&A does, the required skills, the jobs you could get, how much you could make, and how a CMA + FP&A could be a powerful one-two punch for long-term career success.

In this article:

What Is Financial Planning and Analysis?

About a decade ago, the Association for Finance Professionals (AFP) brought attention to a growing discipline within accounting called Financial Planning and Analysis.

Since then, more and more people have taken the journey from strategic partner to business lead all the way to becoming a CFO via FP&A.

This path has become increasingly common due to the changing world of finance and accounting.

From new business models to transformative data sets to artificial intelligence, there are more opportunities than ever for ambitious people with an eye for analysis to break into prominent roles and advance fresh ideas.

Financial planning and analysis is, in many ways, a data-handling role.

In all contexts, individuals in this job aim to optimize the use of business capital and support business decisions.

They achieve this by offering streamlined, standardized, and thoughtful reports that shed light on a company’s financial performance and areas of opportunity.

FP&A is the work that illustrates the lay of the land, giving business leaders insights into how a company is operating and the right financial decisions to make.

Financial planners and analysts usually land a role in accounting after finishing their bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting.

Many go on to obtain additional professional certifications, such as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Chartered Accountancy (CA).

CMAs, especially, are well-positioned to take on challenging roles that inform an organization’s business and accounting functions.

What Are the Responsibilities of the FP&A?

What do FP&As do? Here’s a breakdown of the primary responsibilities of the FP&A:

Integrated planning – FP&As perform analysis that provides data-based direction for an organization’s integrated planning, forecasting, and budgeting.

Performance management – FP&As may steward the key performance indicators related to a company’s operational and financial goals. They would do this through management reporting, progress reporting, and ongoing evaluations.

Financial analysis – FP&As deal in financial data; building models, organizing, standardizing, and interpreting data; and translating complex data and information.

Growth management – FP&As play a crucial part in managing the growth of an organization, offering insights into operating models, systems architecture, data management, and more.

Financial planning and analysis professionals steward data and interpret financial information, providing a connection between strategy, operations, and finance.

What Skills Are Required?

There are several technical skills a competent FP&A should have:

  • Budgeting, including capital planning, calculating burn rate, runway, cash flow expenses, and other planning.
  • Financial modeling, building representations based on performance that informs resource allocation.
  • Financial analysis and financial planning (that goes deep and can extract actionable insights).
  • Analyses: variance analysis, research, and handling all types of data sets
  • Reporting: budgets vs. actuals, operation review reports, etc.
  • Forecasting: goal setting, projections, and trends.

As essential members of the corporate environment, FP&As should also have some soft skills. For example:

  • Leadership with competence in building relationships both upstream and downstream
  • Communication, especially the ability to decode dense concepts or presentations
  • Problem-solving and the ability to handle complex challenges
  • Collaboration and team building
  • Flexibility and a growth mindset

Job Titles in Financial Planning and Analysis

The area of FP&A has a number of different jobs you can apply for. If this area interests you, here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Manager of FP&A
  • Director of FP&A
  • Senior Analyst
  • Analyst
  • CFO

Remember that each of these will have different requirements, tasks, reporting lines, and pathways to leadership.

Financial Planning and Analysis Salary

How much money can you make in financial planning and analysis?

Great question!

Here are the latest numbers from a variety of sources.

Glassdoor lists total pay for financial planning analysts at $91,789 per year in the U.S., with an average salary of $80,676 annually. lists the average pay for FP&As in the U.S. as between $70,770 and $87,561.

Indeed lists the base salary for financial planning analysts in the U.S. at $77,805, ranging from $51,501 to $117,541.

Keep in mind that things like years of experience and other credentials factor into salary ranges.

This brings me to my next point….

Why the CMA Is a Great Certification for Those in FP&A

The best way to max out your earning potential in this or any field is to become an MVP. To be exceptionally valuable, you want to offer an array of skills to a company.

If you’re pursuing a financial planning and analysis role, a CMA certification will help increase your chances (and is proof of your business savvy).

CMAs have an excellent reputation as sharp accounting professionals AND well-trained businesspeople. FP&A skills are covered extensively on the CMA exams so it’s a fastrack to learning these skills.

As the IMA states, Certified Management Accountants are trained experts not just on the bare facts and figures but on the “why behind the numbers.” It’s well known that a CMA certification can help an accounting professional rise through the ranks in an organization.

CMA + FP&A = Find Success Wherever You Land

If you’re preparing for the CMA, do it with us. The CMA Exam Academy has helped thousands of people just like you study the CMA exam successfully.

Once you do, you’ll be on your way to pursuing a role as an FP&A and becoming a respected accounting leader in the organization of your choice.

Check out our CMA Exam Prep Courses here.

Nathan Liao

Hi, I’m Nathan Liao (aka the CMA Coach)! For the last 10 years, over 82,000 accounting and finance pros came knocking at my door seeking guidance and help. If you’re also aiming to conquer the CMA exam on your very first try—without wasting away time or money—you’ve found your ultimate guide. Dive in deeper to discover more about me and the dedicated team that powers CMA Exam Academy. Click here and let’s embark on this journey together!

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