FP&A careers are often a balancing act. You want to make progress, but you also need time away from your desk in order not burn out or get stuck under-performing due to menial tasks.
Luckily, there is help available for professionals who find themselves struggling with how best handle their workloads while still achieving desired results—and preventing potential headaches down the line as well.
Here’s how to push past number crunching into a more strategic FP&A role while keeping your energy levels up.
Starting an FP&A Career
FP&A professionals are responsible for planning and executing the various processes designed to help companies ensure accuracy in their planning, forecasting, and budgeting decisions. As an FP&A professional you will work on the corporate side of the business and support senior management with major business decisions through financial and strategic inputs.
During your FP&A career, you will be a part of the FP&A team featuring FP&A directors, managers, and analysts. Together, your team would be responsible for managing cash flow models, running the annual budgeting process, completing variance analysis, and other key financial performance tasks.
The entry-level position for an FP&A professional is that of a financial analyst and then you gradually move up the corporate ladder to become the finance director and a board member.
It can take anywhere between five to ten years for you to reach the top position.
How to prevent burnout in your FP&A career while still achieving progress
The job profile of an FP&A professional entails an in-depth analysis of the financial data of the enterprise for multiple hours every day. Putting in long hours becomes even more important before important board meetings where crucial financial matters will be discussed.
In your quest to climb up the corporate ladder quickly, you might end up over-exerting yourself. As a result, burnout is imminent and can cause lasting damage to your mental and physical health, and your career in the long run.
While it may seem like a career in finance is not for the faint-hearted, there are ways to avoid burnout. By following these steps you can progress your professional life without experiencing unnecessary stress:
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Most of the time, FP&A professionals are overburdened with work.
Data collection, sanitation, processing, analysis, forecasting, and preparing reports are just some of the tasks you will have to complete in sync with multiple departments. Additonally, there is at times pressure from management to meet deadlines. If you try to do it all by yourself, you will end up burning yourself out.
There is no doubt that you ought to give your best efforts as part of an FP&A team, but you can only do that when you work as a team player. If at any point in time you feel overwhelmed by work, ask your teammates or manager to help you out. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how helpful people really are. By seeking cooperation from a teammate, you will not only be able to complete the tasks on time but also gain their insights to prepare even better reports.
You can also ask your FP&A manager to get integrated FP&A software to help with routine tasks like data collection and hygiene. There are many FP&A software packages that can integrate with your existing tech stack and help with timely completion of given tasks.
Take time for yourself
Soaking up pressure is a part and parcel of the life of an FP&A professional. But this does not mean that you need to spend excess time at the office or working at home.
FP&A software, excel sheets, emails, accounting software - it can become too much to handle. Work is important but your mental and physical well-being is equally important. You must always spare some time for yourself where you experience relaxation and leisure.
Whether you like sweating it out in the gym, hanging out with friends, reading at home, or listening to music, indulge in your hobbies. Leave screens and gadgets aside for a while and engage in a relaxing conversation with your friends or family.
Spending time away from work and investing it in leisure activities will help reboot your mind. You will feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and this will help you perform better at work.
Set Realistic Goals
Hard work, determination, and focus hold the key to your success as an FP&A professional. These qualities will help you perform your duties diligently and also define your pathway to success.
After all, you want to become the FP&A director one day but it is equally crucial to remember that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. You want to excel at work but do not want to experience burnout. The key to wholesome success for every FP&A professional is to set realistic goals that can be completed within a reasonable time.
Setting unrealistic goals is a recipe for disaster. You will not be able to achieve these unrealistic goals, this will lead to stress and anxiety. This anxiety will start reflecting in your performance which will be underwhelming, to say the least. You will risk slowing down your progress as an FP&A professional. Hence, you must always set realistic goals for yourself. If your manager is setting some unrealistic goals, you need to put your hand up, express your inability to do so, and ask for a realistic timeline for the said work.
Find a Mentor
For a successful FP&A career, get in touch with an expert and request mentorship. Mentors are experts who have an excellent record in the industry and can guide you through good times and bad.
An FP&A mentor has in-depth knowledge of the various financial concepts and would help you avoid any common pitfalls. Your FP&A mentor will also help you leverage more opportunities. A lot of issues in the finance sector are complex and warrant in-depth knowledge of the system. This is where having a mentor will come in handy.
During your FP&A career, you will experience challenges while channelizing your personal vision and creating a pathway to success. When you have experienced mentors by your side, they can help you set realistic and meaningful goals based on their own personal experiences and battles.
Network with other professionals
Networking with other FP&A professionals is equally important for your FP&A career. Your professional network can act as a brilliant source of new ideas and perspectives. You can gain useful insights from fellow professionals on the latest developments in the industry and prepare yourself accordingly.
For instance, when it comes to FP&A software, new features are regularly introduced. So, you can use those features to make your tasks easier. Moreover, being part of an FP&A network will raise your professional profile and help you create a brand for yourself.
You will get a chance to exchange ideas on the best practices for different FP&A processes. Then there is another benefit of being able to access better job opportunities through professional references. Networking offers the benefit of different perspectives on the issues at work and thereby helps improve your performance.
Stay up to date on industry news and trends
In present times, companies operate in extremely competitive environments. Hence, the role of the FP&A team becomes even more crucial to help the company retain an edge over competitors. To do so, you must stay on top of industry news and trends. This will allow you to stay one step ahead of the developments and prepare yourself accordingly.
As FP&A is a dynamic sector, several new developments take place regularly, whether it be in terms of FP&A software or the latest industry practices. You can subscribe to online classes or workshops to up-skill yourself and leverage these developments to your advantage.
Frequently Asked Questions on FP&A Careers
A career in FP&A is rewarding and challenging in the best way.
What's more, you have a clear growth path at any stage of experience. But there are a few key elements you'll need to consider.
Firstly, it's important to know the current state of your company and how that will in turn influence your career progression. Another important skill is having the ability to quantify your contributions to the company and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs).
Keeping tabs on the savings you generated for the company, or the hours you saved with automation, will enable you to identify your passions and convert them into opportunities for growth.
Additionally, developing strong communication skills can help you effectively explain complex financials and forecasts to the wider org and your leadership team. By mastering these areas of expertise you can enhance your value as an FP&A professional and increase the odds that you'll advance faster or land promotions!
To round it off, check out these FAQs on FP&A careers:
How do I find the right FP&A job?
To find the right FP&A job, you can subscribe to leading FP&A job boards or attend networking events.
How do I progress in my FP&A career?
To progress in your FP&A career, you need to upskill yourself continuously, become a part of professional networks, and get a mentor to guide you.
What are some common mistakes in FP&A?
Some of the common mistakes in FP&A are setting unrealistic goals, not giving time to yourself, and trying to do everything by yourself instead of being part of a team.
How do I avoid burnout in FP&A?
To avoid burnout in FP&A you must spare some time for yourself. Enjoy leisure activities, spend time with family or friends, or just relax. Do not bring your work home.
FP&A is a crucial business operation and professionals working in an FP&A team have a huge responsibility in handling it. As a result, career pathways as an FP&A professional offer great rewards in terms of work satisfaction and monetary compensation.
If you are not satisfied with your current profile or want to look for new opportunities, subscribe to our FP&A job board to explore your dream FP&A job.