The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) is developing a certification for the corporate financial planning and analysis (FP&A) profession. Much like AFP’s Certified Treasury Professional designation (CTP), the FP&A certification will be based upon uniform standards of practice that encompass all facets of the profession.
AFP staff first recognised the need for a FP&A certification after observing a number of corporate practitioners taking on expanded roles to become increasingly involved in the FP&A practice within their organisation. At the time, few FP&A resources existed for these professionals. “There wasn’t really an agreement on what the competencies were in the field,” said Jeff Glenzer, CTP, managing director, AFP. “This is something that we’d been watching from the fringe for probably six or more years and it just continued to be reinforced.”
A little over a year ago, Glenzer recalled, a former AFP board member and corporate practitioner at a very large Fortune 100 company contacted AFP about potentially conducting a survey of how companies calculate cost of capital, a core FP&A task. The information received through the ensuing 2010 Cost of Capital Survey solidified AFP’s view that there is little consensus on the proper techniques companies use to model and forecast and that there would be value in a FP&A certification to define universal principles and set standards of practice.
“The years of observations about how our members’ roles have changed, feedback directly from people about a lack of best practices in FP&A… it really felt very similar to what we did with cash management so many years ago, when that was not really a defined profession with defined standards of practice,” said Glenzer.
Brian Kalish, finance practice lead, AFP, agreed, noting that an FP&A certification could help to define the FP&A profession, in the same way that the CTP serves to define the treasury management profession. “There is a percentage of the job that an FP&A professional performs that can be defined and best practices standardised,” he said. “A certification will permit peers, employers, and potential employers to have a better understanding of the capabilities and abilities of someone with the FP&A certification.”
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