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The role of a FP&A controller

Many multinational firms are changing the structure of their finance teams in South Africa to replicate their international operations. As a result, we are seeing an increase in Financial Planning and Analysis roles.

We take an in-depth look at what an FP&A Controller does and the skills you’ll need to succeed.

A typical overview of the job description is to act as a link between Finance and all other business areas; preparing value added management information (MI) and advice to facilitate improved performance.

The FP&A Controller is also responsible for forecasting and maintaining the planning and budgeting cycles and for production of the annual accounts.

It is commonly underestimated just how commercial these jobs are – people tend to think it’s just about providing the numbers but they are actually very forward-looking. Controllers are essential in building five-year plans and KPIs, influencing change, building the business case for new product launches and analysing the viability of expansion into new territories.

It is commonly underestimated just how commercial these jobs are – people tend to think it’s just about providing the numbers but they are actually very forward-looking. 

To secure an FP&A Controller job, you’ll need strong planning and analysis skills and experience in a blue-chip environment. You’ll need the ability to thrive in a business partner environment and have proven experience of explaining financial figures to stakeholder from a non-finance background. You’ll therefore need to be personable and have strong communication skills. Experience in a role that has responsibility for South and Sub-Saharan Africa is becoming highly sought after.  If you can get exposure to bids, pitches and new product development you will also stand out.

For successful FP&A Controllers, the future can be very rewarding – typically the good ones spend three to four years in the role, before potentially progressing to an FP&A Director. From there, they can move on to either manage a larger P&L or become a Finance Director.

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