While we still have many more updates to how technology is changing financial planning and analysis, this week I am joining my editor-in-chief Dave Blanchard at the Association for Finance Professionals Annual Conference in Miami Beach.

One of the exciting announcements was the availability date for AFP's new Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credential. This new designation is the first to focus exclusively on financial planning and analysis. AFP states, "The holders of the FP&A designation will:

  • Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to perform competently in today's complex finance environment.
  • Pass a rigorous examination.
  • Agree to abide by a professional code of ethical conduct.
  • Be committed to keeping knowledge current by meeting continuing education requirements."

Research from the 2012 APQC study on which areas in finance post the biggest challenges when it comes to finding and securing qualified external hires found FP&A to be the biggest challenge by far. It was selected by 64% of executive level (CFO, CEO) respondents.

In discussing the new credential with several FP&A managers and directors I noted they had a generally favorable response. They viewed the new credential as a helpful tool in evaluating new recruits and in helping their development. Mark Regier, manager of planning and analysis for Dimensional Fund Advisors, notes, "The FP&A credential can help me develop the junior members of my staff. There currently is nothing specifically targeted for their job. This would fill a clear need.”

The exam taking shape is multi-part, with each section covering about 100 to 150 items. Part 1 is expected to cover financial acumen evaluating the gathering and reporting of financial information and communications/coordinating the work of others. Part 2 covers financial analysis, which includes analyzing information, building financial projections and using technology/software. Test development has begun with planned completion by March 2013.

The remaining development timetable is driving towards a live exam being ready in February/March 2014.

Exam preparation materials are expected to become available in June 2013. Beta testing is slated for August and September. Registration would open in October 2013.

In another development I wanted to alert you to a survey we will be conducting to gather opinions of how cloud, in-memory computing and mobile are changing FP&A. Look for the survey to be available soon. I also want to thank SAP for sponsoring this research and making it possible for us to share this information.

Next week we will resume the schedule of updates on how technology is changing best practices in financial planning and analysis. I'll share some low-cost data sources to help get you to start thinking of how these lessons can be applied at your organization to drive greater value.

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