11 #050: On The Future of FP&A – Strength In The Numbers

Our Guest Mentor:

Ken Fick is an FP&A thought leader and the founder of fpaexperts.com a digital media platform for the corporate finance market providing tips and ideas to accelerate a career in finance, improve lifestyles, and enhance businesses.

Ken also does outsourced CFO Consulting, financial analysis and other business and management consulting projects among other entrepreneurial and investment endeavours. Ken brings 20 years of experience in various positions in industry and consulting where he has led critical accounting, forensic, business planning, forecasting, analytic and strategy initiatives.

Ken holds an MBA in Finance, CPA and CGMA and is currently based out of Washington DC in the United States.

Key Quotes From the Episode:

 “[On what he uncovered in his forensic & corporate litigation consulting career] A lot of things you found out what not to do. And the line between right and wrong is not black and white, it’s a whole series of grey up until you get to a tipping point and you don’t know when you’ve passed that tipping point unfortunately it’s almost impossible to go back” [05:18]

 “[On managers rising to their level of incompetence] your boss or the people you’re advising probably have this imposter syndrome where they are just waiting for someone to find out that they are a fraud and it’s very common that people feel this way. And you have to use your abilities in finance and analytics to comfort them through data science and one way I’ve done this is asking the ’but for?’.” [10:23]

“[On the importance of FP&A] There’s too much data being created, no matter how many finance and accounting people are minted there is physically not enough of us to manage and analyse these data.” [12:38]

“[On digital finance transformation] It is not just moving to the cloud … but it is a way that data moves within an organisation to where it is most valuable.” [16:57]

“[On deconstructing things into useful chunks] Everything that is complex must have started out as simple, it has to, there is no other way to get there. If you look at the human body it’s probably one of the most complex machines in existence but at our core 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of 6 elements . . . .so is the human body easy? No, we’re not close to that but it is simple to understand.” [27:58]

 (Other resources and how to connect with Ken below).

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Key Points From the Episode:

  • The advantage of FP&A nowadays and the role of continuous accounting into the future.
  • The skills aspiring FP&A professionals should be looking to develop.
  • Describes the ‘but-for’  test.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

[02:03] – Ken’s journey within Fortune 500 finance departments, to forensic & corporate litigation projects and various senior Finance and CFO roles.

[03:32] – Shares how he got into forensic & corporate litigation consulting and what he learned where fraud occurs the most.

[07:08] – Lesson Ken learned when he was 22 during his internal audit career.

[09:20] – On making the numbers less grey.

[10:50] – Describes the ‘but-for’ test.

[11:57] – The advantage of FP&A nowadays and the role of continuous accounting into the future.

[14:08] – The skills aspiring FP&A professionals should be looking to develop.

[16:43] – How Digital Finance Transformation is exciting Ken most about accounting and finance at the moment and how we can handle the issues of data being too restricted and unrestricted.

[19:28] – Why Transparency is key as well as understanding things like complexity-based costing.

[21:45] – Why we need to get comfortable with ambiguity & fuzziness to remain relevant.

[24:59] – The best bits of advice Ken has ever received – Run towards the gunshot and Break things down into useful chunks

[30:26] – Resources Ken recommends.

Resources Mentioned:

  • The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, by Laurence J Peter and Raymond Hull
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt,‎ Stephen J. Dubner
  • Growth in the Age of Complexity: Steering Your Company to Innovation, Productivity, and Profits in the New Era of Competition, by Andrei Perumal and Stephen A Wilson
  • FP&A Experts Website (website)
  • FP&A Symposium (link)

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