Next exam up? #FP&A Certification

It’s been a while since I posted and I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Hopefully many of you who have followed the blog since it’s inception or at any point in its history are now CFA Charterholders too.

Being a CFA charterholder has been everything I thought it would be. Since I last posted I moved into a FP&A Manager role.  For those not familiar with what FP&A is, it stands for Financial Planning & Analysis. It’s a broad term that can mean different things at different companies but in summary, it really covers budgeting, forecasting and general business planning activities. It can be very strategic or more tactical with a focus on reporting. Here’s how AFP defines it:

A newly certified FP&A professional provides insights to the financial decision making process in an organization through analysis, financial projections (planning, budgeting and forecasting) and reporting.  They may work as a member of a team of financial analysts but they are also able to work independently.

They understand the entire decision support process and are able to contribute to and be responsible for individual components of the process.  They are able to perform these functions accurately and in an efficiently manner and to identify, assess and adapt their processes to changes in the business environment.  FP&A professionals understand and abide by professional conduct standards.

FP&A professionals communicate with others in a wide range of positions internal and external to the organization to understand and gather qualitative and quantitative information on factors affecting the financial performance of the organization.  They are also able to analyze data and relevant facts, consolidate and convey insight to support decision makers and other stakeholders. 

AFP(Association of Financial Professionals) has developed a certification to cover this growing field in Finance and I have enrolled to be one of the 1st beta testers this Spring. Here’s a website that covers the certification:

Why am I going for this? Well I love being first at anything and with this certification being brand new, being one of the first recipients of it would be nice. I also expect this certification to become just like the CTP(Certified Treasury Professional) for the FP&A profession. The growth trajectory of FP&A is projected to be huge and folks who can demonstrate proficiency and real world experience will be in high demand. Go read any survey of CFO’s on the skills they are looking for and what area of Finance they want to grow in. FP&A will be at the top of the list.

Regarding the exam itself, here’s a blurb from the site:

The FP&A exam consists of two parts – Part I and Part II – that require a mastery of the critical skills, knowledge and abilities involved in the corporate financial planning & analysis function. Part I-Financial Acumen is a computer-based exam consisting of a variety of multiple choice and fill in the blank questions. Part II-Financial Analysis is a computer-based exam consisting of a variety of multiple choice and spreadsheet based questions. Both parts contain unscored pre-test questions, which do not affect the score and are used in examinations as an effective and legitimate way to test the validity of future examination questions. Pre-test questions are placed randomly throughout the exam.

I have the study material that comes with the exam fees(if you decide to pay extra) and they also have a online self study system that helps guide you thru the curriculum. I have not begun studying yet or even mapped out a plan. Right now I plan to take Part 1 on 3/8 with Part II right after on 3/14. I thought of taking on same day but schedule didn’t allow for that so this should be fine.

I perused thru the curriculum and this should be MUCH easier than the CFA. Lots of this is common sense if you work in FP&A already and I know Excel pretty good so I don’t expect much difficulty in passing this on 1st shot.

As I did with CFA, I will use the blog to document my studies in the hopes it helps someone else down the line who decides to pursue the certification. If anyone else is currently pursuing it or thinking about it, please reach out, I’d love to hear how you’re approaching the exam. 

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