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Key Takeaways from the Apliqo FP&A Masterclass with Jack Alexander

This year, we wrapped up our first instalment of the Apliqo FP&A Masterclass with Jack Alexander. With over 40 years of experience, Jack walked us through everything from the imperatives of COVID-19 to how to implement key FP&A best practices such as Scenario Planning, Rolling Forecasts, and more.

In case you missed all or part of our exclusive Masterclass, read on for a detailed summary of the individual classes and learn how to get on-demand access to the entire class for free.

1.    Recap of Prior Webinars and Post COVID-19 FP&A Imperatives

The first Masterclass in our series served as a recap of our previous webinars with Jack Alexander and took a detailed look at the effects of COVID-19 on FP&A. In this class, Jack examined; 

  • The increased need for flexible projection models and planning methods, such as Scenario Planning,

  • The pandemic’s effect on cash flow modelling and management, and

  • The need for FP&A departments to adopt a wider range of skills and responsibilities in order to drive value post COVID-19.

Moreover, one of the biggest takeaways from our first Masterclass was the clear overview it provided of what makes a successful FP&A department.

2.    Scenario Planning and Adapting to Uncertainty

This second installment of our Masterclass was easily one of the most awaited, especially after McKinsey and Co. confirmed our prediction that Scenario Planning is the best tool to help businesses face the economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this Masterclass, Jack Alexander provided us with a comprehensive walkthrough of Scenario Planning and why it’s become one of the most important planning methods for FPA teams the world over.

More importantly, this Masterclass encouraged our attendees to follow up on the theory we provided and share real-life examples of how they applied Scenario Planning at their organisations. Not only did this help strengthen Jack’s walkthrough of Scenario Planning, but it also provided us with real-life examples of how this planning method can help build better FP&A departments.

3.    Presenting and Communicating FP&A Business Results and Analysis

Communication and presenting are often overlooked aspects of FP&A. However, your best analysis is essentially worthless if you can’t present it properly, which is why we put together this Masterclass to cover our Best Practices for communicating and presenting your analysis and projections.

Some of the tips we covered include:

  • How to know your audience.

  • Using the appropriate messaging to communicate your financial results.

  • Storytelling and how to use it to make your presentations more engaging.

  • Structured outlines for effective, engaging reports and presentations.

  • How to switch from a finance perspective to a business perspective to better explain your analysis and how it relates to your company’s key drivers.

  • How to use data to better communicate key findings. 

4.    Relevant KPIs and Dashboards in FP&A

Most organisations use KPIs and Dashboards as part of their PMS. However, in our experience, we’ve found that many companies adopt KPIs without actually them to see whether they reflect the key drivers of their business. As a result, they often end up focusing on too many indicators at once and turning out analyses that don’t properly reflect their performance.

In this Masterclass, Jack Alexander looked at the objectives of performance management and shared his tips for balancing the right KPIs and dashboards in order to measure and drive the metrics most important to your business.

Some of the key takeaways from this masterclass include:

  • Understanding how to pick the KPIs most relevant to your business.

  • Learning how to use visual dashboards to present and proactively manage these KPIs.

  • Understanding that less is more when it comes to KPI management.

  • Learning to KPIs depending on whether they’re lagging, leading, projective, or predictive indicators of your company’s performance.

5.    FP&A Deep Dive on Business Projections

In our experience, we’ve found many companies still haven’t adopted key financial core models or business projections. In this Masterclass, Jack Alexander takes an in-depth look at financial core models (such as PnL, BS, and CF) as well as key projections (including long range projections, operational plans, and rolling forecasts), describes why they’re important to modern FP&A, and shares key tips and use-cases to help companies adopt them.

Some key learnings from this instalment of our Masterclass series include:

  • Understanding the importance of a strong Financial Core Model and the importance of projection.

  • An overview of 3 plans and projections we think every company needs to implement; an Annual Operating Plan, a Business Outlook (Rolling Forecast), and a Strategic Financial Model (or Long-Range Plan).

  • Reiterating the importance of using Scenario Planning over single point projection.

6.    FP&A Fast Track Implementing Rolling and Extended Forecasts

Fixed budget and annual planning cycles simply aren’t cut out for the dynamic, uncertain times we find ourselves in. Unfortunately, we still find many companies leaning on these textbook practices as the backbone of their approach to FP&A.

Rolling or extended forecasts, on the other hand, are extremely dynamic and facilitate the development of updated projections that rapidly reflect changes to the most critical assumptions and drivers of your business.  At the same time, Rolling Forecasts automatically encourage the development of different scenarios to strengthen your planning in the face of uncertainty.

In this Masterclass, Jack Alexander discusses the key ingredients of a rolling forecast and addresses some of the biggest challenges companies face when trying to implement them. Moreover, he also shares our Fast-Track process to help you integrate Rolling Forecasts into your FP&A model.

7.    Finance as a Partner in Creating Value

To celebrate the success of our first Masterclass series, we decided to finish off the year with this exclusive closing class.

Throughout our Masterclasses and blog articles, we’ve talked extensively about ditching “the accounting mindset” as a key step in taking a proactive, value-driven approach to finance at your organization. Whereas finance has traditionally occupied the role of a business formality, companies and upper senior executives are now realizing that it can offer them a key competitive advantage, especially in today’s highly uncertain business environment.

In our final Masterclass of the year, Jack Alexander shared his best practices to help turn your finance department into one of your organization’s “key business partners.” Some of the topics he touched on included:

  • Adopting a “business focus” rather than a traditional “finance focus.”

  • Learning your business and becoming a strategic thinker.

  • How to create effective and actionable analysis/insights.

  • Developing a service mindset.

  • Becoming an effective communicator.

Access Our Exclusive Masterclass On-Demand

Missed our Masterclass? Visit our Masterclass page and register for free to watch the past events on-demand.