Clubs that offer a forum for corporate treasurers and other financial professionals to exchange progress reports and ideas on financial planning and analysis (FP&A) will open in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm and Geneva, Switzerland this spring.
The confirmation came as the first FP&A Club, launched in London at the end of January 2013, marked its first anniversary last week. Since that initial meeting the club has seen major developments over the past 12 months in Europe and the Middle East.
To mark the first year Larysa Melnychuk, founder of the London club, spoke with gtnews about the club’s progress over the period, and where it is headed in 2014.
The goal of the FP&A club was to create both an inspirational and educational forum for FP&A professionals in the financial centre of Europe. In many cases, Melnychuk observed companies using “old, inflexible models” worked under a traditional budgeting culture that made the planning and forecasting process lacking in analytics, long in time, expensive and inefficient.
However, FP&A is gradually becoming more influential and strategic than before. Melnychuk noted that industry leaders are treating the FP&A function as an important element of organisational competitive advantage. “FP&A processes, systems, people and business culture are changing to become more flexible and dynamic to significantly improve decision-making process in organisations,” she said. “In order to recognise the best practices in financial planning and analysis by learning from each other and through thought leaders, we created the FP&A Club – a place where we can meet, network and hear from our industry thought leaders.”
Although Melnychuk was confident from the outset that the project would be successful, the results exceeded expectations. In the past 12 months, the group has held 10 successful FP&A events and opened clubs in Kiev, Moscow and Dubai. March and April 2014 will see the network extend further to include Stockholm and Geneva.
While discussions at each individual club vary, the most popular topics include:
- Latest FP&A trends.
- Quality of business forecasting.
- Implementation of rolling forecast.
- Beyond budgeting philosophy.
- FP&A systems.
- FP&A business culture.
Recognising diversity and the global aspect of the FP&A community, the club also decided to start a series of highly-focused and practical FP&A webinars.
In September 2013, the club created the London FP&A advisory board, which consists of 10 senior FP&A executives from different industries and backgrounds. “Through professional debate and discussion, at the London FP&A advisory board we recognise and communicate best practices in FP&A,” said Melnychuk. The next advisory board meeting, which takes place on Thursday 6 February, will focus on FP&A systems.
Through Melnychuk’s extensive travels, she is seeing a lot of enthusiasm and interest in FP&A innovations around the globe. “Though, there are obviously some country-specific features in any territory, the big FP&A trends are global and irreversible. Together, we need to build more flexible and dynamic FP&A processes that are run by strategic and influential FP&A professionals, true business partners and leaders in developing collaborative planning and forecasting routines,” she said.
Looking forward, Melnychuk believes that the new generation of FP&A systems, advances in business intelligence and big data technologies, and the emergence of a new generation of FP&A professionals will allow FP&A departments to implement quick, multidimensional and highly analytical processes. She see traditional ‘budgeting’ management models giving way to ones that recognise the importance of rolling forecasts , scenario analysis, and on-demand planning processes, with more companies starting to look at risk-adjusted planning processes and methods of reducing non-value adding activities in FP&A.
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