For financial planning and analysis (FP&A) professionals, thinking ahead is part of the job description. In today’s unpredictable environment, FP&A needs to constantly be looking for new ways to innovate. That’s why the FP&A track at AFP 2020 features multiple sessions with solutions and practices that can help practitioners anticipate what’s coming around the bend.
This year’s FP&A Keynote is finance and leadership expert Amy Vetter. In her session, Becoming a Cherished Advisor in a World of Constant Innovation, she will show FP&A professionals how change, whether driven by internal or external factors, can be an opportunity if it is managed well. As waves of new technology infiltrate finance, FP&A can seize this moment to move from a cost center to a service center.
As Vetter explained in a recent interview on AFP Conversations, becoming a cherished advisor isn’t something that is handed to you. “The reason I came up with the term ‘cherished advisor’ is because being cherished is something that you have to earn and it's someone in your life that you can't imagine not having,” she said. “So if you start creating that relationship in your career with other departments and with people that you work with, what that means is, they can't imagine not having you as part of the company because of the value you create.”
EXPANDING FP&A’S ROLE
Many sessions on this year’s agenda challenge attendees to reevaluate FP&A’s role in the business. The session, Transforming Finance to a Business Partner, explores how FP&A professionals are being called upon to provide more support in strategic decision-making within their organizations. Attendees will hear from the finance team at a multinational consumer goods company, whose transformative journey led them to become an engaged business partner.
Tracy Butler, CTP, CFO of Sound Transit and a member of the AFP 2020 Planning Task Force, explained why business partnering is so essential for today’s finance professionals. “In my current role as a CFO, I see more and more the importance of partnering,” she said. “A lot of the time, we generate a report based on historical data, and then try to provide that insight to the organization. But very often in today's world, things are moving so fast. The past does not necessarily tell the future. By partnering and creating that relationship, we can get those insights and then fold them into our analysis to better support the work and the mission.”
Indeed, being a good business partner means connecting with other departments to provide FP&A with valuable insights. In the session, Getting Engagement and Involvement from Operations, attendees will learn how to engage the people that create the data, which will enable them to have better foresight into what they feel they can accomplish in future years.
NEW METHODOLOGIES AND TECHNOLOGIES
No FP&A session track would be complete without exploring innovations in processes and technology. In the session, Advanced Dynamic Financial Modeling, an FP&A trainer will cover methods of dynamic forecasting to help FP&A professionals save time, eliminate mistakes and reduce rework. Attendees will learn not only the mechanics of modeling, but also how to become indispensable assets to their organizations.
Attendees who are struggling with legacy technology platforms will want to attend the session, Architecting the Digital Finance Future: Leveraging the Cloud to Drive Business Transformation. FP&A leaders who have spearheaded enterprise initiatives to modernize and digitally enable their finance function through the implementation of cloud based EPM solutions will discuss efforts to streamline business processes, enhance modeling and planning capabilities, and improve accuracy while minimizing risk.
According to Butler, digital transformation is the key to FP&A’s future. “We have to move forward; we cannot be stuck in how we do things in the past,” Butler said. “That's why I talk to my staff and my peers about continuous improvement. It’s not like there is a beginning and an end to a process we started and we say, "In two years this is done." We have to keep moving forward. And sometimes we may feel like we're playing catch up, but that's how it is.”
Don’t miss these exciting sessions and more at AFP 2020. View the FP&A track here. Register for AFP 2020 here.