In this special jam-packed episode Paul Barnhurst looks back on 2022 (and with special guests) reveals the biggest predictions for FP&A in 2023.
This episode looks back at one year of FP&A Today and how our dedicated audience helped us reach more than 40,000 downloads in our first 35 episodes across 100 countries.
In between we hear Paul’s favorite FP&A guest insights from the first 35 episodes interspersed with new hot takes on everything you need to know in FP&A for 2023 from FP&A leaders, Soufyan Hamid, Hector Rubalcava, and Mario Vasquez.
In this episode:
- The winner of the yearly question of FP&A Favorite Excel function revealed 🥇
- The best Excel jokes you need to know
- The favorite Excel functions of Jordan Goldmeier, Lance Rubin, Kathy Svetina, Francesca Valli, Jon Laudi, Chris Reilly and Paul Barnhurst
- The #1 advice to make your FP&A journey better in 2023 from Jack Alexander, Zoe Cooke, Stéphanie Herbots, Chris Reilly, Carl Seidman, and Paul Barnhurst
- Predictions for FP&A in 2023 from Soufyan Hamid, Hector Rubalcava, and Mario Vasquez
- How to move from accounting to FP&A with Cameron Janke
- The revolution with Gen Z FP&A with interns at Credit Suisse and American Express entering the finance workforce for the first time
Read the full transcript and blog
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Welcome to our special end of year episode. I am your host, Paul Barnhurst, a aka, the FP&A Guy and you are listening to FP&A Today, your go-to resource for all things FP&A. In today’s episode, we are going to recap 2022 and look forward to 2023. As many of you know, we launched a show in 2022, so we’re excited to share many of the highlights from our first year. So in this episode, we’ll have a brief recap of what we’ve accomplished this year, some lessons learned in 2022 from different guests, and they’ll also give some advice or what they’re focused on for 2023. We wanna share what our audience has said throughout the year. That’s one of my favorite parts of the show is hearing from each one of you and hearing how the show has helped you in your career.
And then we’re going to share a number of clips from various episodes and guests throughout the year. So before we jump into a recap, I want to start by thanking every single one of you for making FP&A Today, the premier FP&A podcast. Without each and every one of you, this would’ve never been possible. As I mentioned before, one of the most gratifying things for me is hearing from each of you the audience about how you’ve enjoyed FP&A Today, how a certain episode has helped you, or how something a guest has said has resonated with you. With that in mind, I want to just share some feedback we’ve received from different guests. I know myself, I know Datarails, the great people we work with, love getting this feedback. So the first comes from Casey from Australia. She says, “I absolutely love your podcast.” Simple. Thank you, Casey. We’re glad you love it.
The second comes from Brian in Florida. Brian says, “Great real world insights. And CPE credit at the same time is one of the many great reasons to listen to FP&A Today.” Brian, we couldn’t agree more. We love that you get real world insights and you can also learn about CPE credit for your CPA. What a great way to get that educational stuff taken care of, as well as enjoying a great podcast. Next comes Chris from Colorado. And what Chris had to say is “what I love most about this show is its reach. I can listen to people all over the world to better understand their finance experience and almost always end up with a takeaway that include improved my work, love what you guys have built in such a short time.” And then Jordan from the UK said: “I like how accessible it is as someone who works in this space but isn’t accounting and finance trained.”
“It’s still super insightful and understandable, and that means it will be the same whatever stage you are in your finance career.” So thank you Chris and Jordan. Now Chris, I agree with you, one of my favorite things is the reach. I get to talk to people all over the world. Where else would I get that opportunity to talk to some of the brightest and best in our profession? And then Jordan, so glad to hear that you find it understandable and actionable, even though you’re not accounting and finance trained, we love that you believe it will help people throughout their whole stage of their career. Because that’s our goal is to help people be better at FP&A. So now we’re going to go through and do kind of a fun season recap where we share some of the facts about FP&A Today, which to us is just staggering.
So first, we’ve had over 40 guests this year we’ve had two LinkedIn Live panel discussions. We’ve also had a panel discussion on mental health, and we have one on HR coming up here soon. Now, the guests we’ve had on the show have run the gamut. We’ve had everyone from people still in college to those nearing or in retirement, and everything in between. We’ve also covered the list of kind of titles within the FP&A profession. We’ve had analysts, managers, directors, VPs, CFOs, and self-employed solopreneurs. We’ve covered so many different subjects ranging from finance and mental health and how to avoid burnout to data visualization and storytelling, financial modeling, digital transformations, SaaS finance, investor relations, and so much more. One of the most exciting things is how diverse our guest list has been. So I’m going to run through where our guests have come from all over the world.
So we have Toronto, Canada, in the US we had people from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Washington and Washington, DC. We’ve also had a guest from the country of Trinidad and Tobago. We’ve had people throughout Europe, we’ve had Brussels, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the UK coming to us from Africa, we had someone from South Africa and Zambia. And then finally we’ve also had someone from Australia. So you can see we’ve had people from all over the world. In addition to that, we’ve had over 40,000 episodes downloaded. Year to date, I think we’re about at 42 plus another 5,000 or so listened to on YouTube. And with that, we’ve had every continent globally except Antarctica. Download an episode. So if you’re in Antarctica and you have internet, please download us. We’ve had every single state in the US, but one, Wyoming, Wyoming, we’re waiting for you to join us. And we’ve had people from over a hundred countries download episodes. All I can say is it’s just kind of mind blowing for me. Never did I expect it to have this kind of reach. So again, big thank you.
So now that we’ve recapped some facts, we’re going to go into and start with kind of the recaps and the highlights from one of the favorite sections of our show. It’s a question we ask every one of our guests, and I think most of you probably know what it is. That question is, what is your favorite feature or function in Excel and why?
And so what we did is we tallied up all the votes for the episodes this year and we came up with a poll and we have the top three people. So in third place with three votes is the old faithful of Excel functions. The lookup, we had three people vote for that in second place with five votes is pivot tables. They make a super easy to summarize data. Everybody loves a good pivot table. And then in first place with six votes is the ever versatile index match. And a bonus point goes to Sruthi Lanka for stating it is not one function but two in her answer.
So what a great list we had there from Excel highlighting our winners. And with that in mind, we’re going to highlight some of those people telling you their favorite feature function thing about Excel. But before we do that, I wanna tell a little bit of my Excel journey.
I still remember the first time, this is even before I got into FP&A, I was with a boss and they were like, Hey, I’ve heard these pivot tables are really cool. How do we use them? And we were trying to figure out a pivot table and we were putting data, like text data in the summarize the values and like, oh, I don’t get this. This isn’t helpful. We weren’t summarizing data, nobody ever explained them to us. And it really was when I went to grad school and started using Excel more, I realized, oh, these are what pivot tables are. And I thought, how cool. This is really neat. And then over time I started to do more and more, but my journey really started to take off probably 2014, 2015 new job. I had a boss who was huge in Excel and that’s where I picked up these Excel Bible books is I wanted to understand better the things they were doing in their files.
There was a lot of complex stuff, some macros, etc. And then in 2017 I started a new job. And from there my love of Excel just grew. I was trying to figure out how to put something in place and I stumbled across Power Query and Power Pivot and that allowed me to provide insights and build some basically applications reporting for the business that they didn’t have. It was being used by everybody and they absolutely loved it. As far as I know, it’s still something that’s used. We finally turned it into some data cubes and built it out to help our accountants and our FP&A a professionals understand the reporting. I remember spending many hours, a number of the books came from that job. This is one of the very first ones Power Pivot and Power BI I ever got. And it transformed the way I worked in Excel.
I was able to clean up data and produce reports that I wouldn’t have been able to do. It helped me get promoted. So I’m just a huge fan of Excel and it helped lead to where I’m at today where I get to go out and train people on Excel. I love it. I regularly provide corporate training and one of the best parts of that training is seeing someone eyes light up and be like, I get it. This will help me seeing how it’ll transform the way they do Excel. Except so as I like to say, this shirt is from Datarails, same sheet, different day. So thank you for the shirt. So let’s jump into some of these clips. We’re going to highlight six people. Each of them are going to share their favorite function or feature in Excel. So we’re going to go ahead and let that roll. Do you have a favorite Excel function or feature?
I mean definitely my favorite feature is going to be Merge and Center, I have to say Merge & Center
I have to say I’m on the opposite end of that debate, but I’ll let you have that one.
Okay, maybe that one’s just being a little bit of a contrarian with that one. No, I love Merchant Center. I would say it’s one of my favorites. I mean to be honest, it is on my quick access toolbar where my favorites do go. So I’m going to stick with that answer.
Right, we’ll give you that answer Merge and Center It is, see what kind of debate we get from that one.
My favorite absolute, absolute favorite Excel function is, and I think when I only started using it about a year and a half ago and I really think the heavens opened and the ages came down when I started using this. And I am really, I’m not exaggerating
Here, how the angels come down that
<laugh> and the rainbows and puppies came too.
I’m picturing that in my head. Yep. Yeah, I’m with you on that one.
Power query. I really, you cannot beat that. And if you do not know Power Query, please go learn it. It will change your life.
This question, I never give a satisfying answer, so I apologize in advance. I don’t have a really complicated Excel function that I love. Don’t. In fact, I think that I prefer simple.I prefer simplicity and any model I ever make, I prefer to break it down into so many small pieces that you don’t need a complicated formula. And I realize that doesn’t scale as well as some other models can and should. But it’s the way I think about it and it’s the way I approach models in Excel. So I do like some good lookups. I’ve been exploring XLookup a little bit lately trying to benefit from that cuz there’s a lot of power there. And that being said, I think that the overarching Excel function that I like is actually just keep it simple and use such, make it so simple that you don’t have to use a complicated formula.
I think it is the Index Match combo probably my all time favorite. I know everybody’s all about XLookup these days. I’ve dabbled but I’m still an index match purist. I don’t know. The ability to get multiple dimensions of a lookup from anywhere, whether not confined by ranges to me is super helpful. So that one’s probably my all time favorite. I’ll use it for bringing in balance sheet balances or that kind of thing. I think that’s gotta be number one.
Yeah, that’s definitely one we hear a lot and I know a lot of people love Index Match. It’s a great formula so
I can appreciate
That. What is yours?
What I don’t know if I have one. What I’m really enjoying right now, and I don’t know if you’ve seen them yet, I’m just starting to work on a course, is Excel finally released out of beta in the last about month, six weeks, 14 new formulas. There’s 11 of them that are dynamic arrays where you can basically stack cables together in one formula vertically, horizontally. You can drop things from the data. So as a total you could drop it, you could stack it all together and say drop the totals, drop the first and last columns. So there are a lot of shaping of dynamic arrays and right now that’s probably my favorite thing to play with. Now as far as really formula or function Power Query, I have to say that one cuz it really pretty much got me promoted at two jobs ago and it saved my bacon cause the place was a total mess and I had to fix all the data and I could have never done it without Power Query. So that’s my favorite thing within Excel.
But Right now I’m really having fun with the new shaping formulas. But that’s more just to toying around with them at the moment just because they’re kind of cool to see. So cool. Yeah, most people aren’t surprised when I say Power Query.
Yeah I was not surprised.
Yeah, anyone who’s followed me on LinkedIn knows I preached that one from time to time. So I was going to say why is Pivot Tables your favorite Excel function? No kidding. Our feature,
Well firstly cause I’ve never used it for a long time, but I can see how it can be useful for people but not for modeling. It just doesn’t even appear. And so for me, Excel was my modeling tool, not my analytics tool. Now that I do have analytics, I’m like I’m not touching pivot tables, I’m touching Power BI and Power Pivot. So for me I, I’ve gone beyond pivot tables, I’ve sort of jumped now that I would see value in a pivot table, I’m like I’m not doing that in pivot tables, I am doing that in power pivot on Power BI because I can then actually start building logic around my data. So that’s why pivot tables is not my most favorite. And a last little curve ball there is not my I what I know lots of accountants and finance professionals and FP&A people do a good pivot table cuz it does allow you to slice the dice thing when you’re looking backwards. Absolutely. But as I said in the beginning, I’m much more about forward looking and I think that’s where there’s huge opportunity to add value as opposed to what happened.
And so I’ll just give our audience a little bit, that was kind of an insight curve ball. I told Lance I was going to him because he kept asking why is everybody saying pivot table is their favorite function? I never really used that for modeling. And he said he could really relate when I told the story of, I had a CFO that came to me one day, actually he was general manager at this point but he had been my CFO and he came to me one day and he’s like, how do you do this in the pivot table? And he was like the guy I looked up to in Excel and I’m like wait, you don’t know pivot tables? But I was totally blown away and he’d come from a similar background to you, the investment banking and he is like, that was modeling. There wasn’t a need to use a pivot.
And so I totally understand that. So now I’ll ask you the serious question. What is your favorite Excel function? Or it could be a feature?
Well I’ll give you rather than give you one, I’ll give you three because I think there’s some of these are, so if I’d say the one I’d say Index and the Index Match combo is the number one. The number of people that aren’t even familiar with index is quite large, yes there’s X lookup but X lookup doesn’t work with all versions of Excel and not backwards. But the other one, which if you ever want to enter some numbers into a grid, all right in terms of numbers, you just want to push numbers through a model and instead of entering one number copying to the right, copying down, you just push control enter and it enters that number in entire grid. So if you haven’t used control enter and that was actually someone, an ex-colleague of mine showed me, which was very powerful.
And so absolutely control enter in index match and one which is again a little bit different but it comes up regularly for me. When I have a list of items and I want to count them like number of products or people or whatever, I just want to have a total list. I’ll use count A count A as a formula allows me and I don’t, why but it just comes up a lot. And you know what I said look, that’s actually going to mention that on the podcast because it comes up more often than not and it’s one that I don’t think many people use. So rather than giving people the standard, which would be my index match answer, I’d say look at control enter as sort of a scalable way of entering data into a spreadsheet. And then also definitely to Count A comes up more often than not I just want to try and make sure I have the number of periods. I just wanna count the number of periods. Gotta count A.
Yeah. Now I’m a huge fan of count A and I love count A with unique now in 365 so I don’t have to deal with the duplicates. Yes, use that all the time. Versus the old way of having to write some kind of COUNT IF to figure out how many times it was in there and dividing it by the number. I can never remember that formula. So I was like when they came out Count county A I’m like and unique. I’m like thank you.
It’s awesome. But again, that’s probably more 365. But yeah, unique.
Yeah it is definitely a 365 thing. Well I’m glad it’s not Merge and Center like our first guest. I was worried that you might go there.
Oh look I do agree with Jordan cause I have used Merge and Center. I do find that in some instances I still use it and so he’s an MVP. I’m not I’ll just say that. But I don’t poopoo merge and center as much as other others do. And as Oz said, this is not a religion we’re talking about be look up an index match. This is just a formula. So let’s have context. So I think all of these things, context is important.
Now I completely agree. I mean if you’re using it right, whether it’s merchant sensor at merge and center, V lookup, X lookup, index match, it’s get the job done and do it right. That’s what matters.
<laugh>, that’s another fantastic question. So unlike a lot of noise that you hear now about Excel. We shouldn’t use Excel. I absolutely don’t agree with that. Excel is still one of the very powerful, it’s a powerful tool wherever you deploy it. And as you say Paul, now the functionality within Excel is extraordinary in Microsoft Power BI Excel can just be another source of data. But to your question, my absolute favorite and I no longer use Excel as I did when I was a finance analyst myself. But the Pivot Table, I mean the Pivot table. How quickly can you get at an understanding of the data from 20,000 miles above the earth? Unless you at the pivot table, you tell me!
Hope you enjoyed that compilation of clips. If you have a favorite function or feature, please email me. Which one is your favorite? What would it be and why? And like I said, I hope you enjoyed these clips as much as I did and I would just recommend if you haven’t learned Power Query. That’s my advice for 2023, learn Power Query. And then finally, before we move on to the next section, we’re going to have a little Excel jokes in honor of Jordan Goldmeier, Mr Merge and Center, most of these jokes were shared by him. Maybe not all of ’em but most of ’em. So the first one here, I always tell this first in honor of my friend Ron Monteiro, our guest from Toronto, Canada. What does a data analyst put in their hair? SUM Product. Get it all right. I didn’t say these were funny but they are jokes.
What do you call a broken spreadsheet? Well the next guy’s problem. Why did the spreadsheet hate his job? Too many functions. And then last but not least, what comes after Excel? A good SQL.
All right, enough with the jokes, we’re now going to hear a clip from Hector Hector Rubalcava who is in Illinois as FP&A director and he’s going to share his lessons learned for 2022 and what he’s looking forward to in 2023. One last question here for you. We’re coming up at the end of the year, can you believe it? Yes. Q4 budget season. Yes. So really it’s a two-part question. First part is what’s been your key takeaway from 2022 kind of professionally? And then you can go one or two directions, what’s your kind of main goal for 2023 or what’s the advice you would offer to other FP&A professionals kind of going into next year?
So my key big learning in 2022 honestly is all about disruption. Becoming agile being able to basically pivot and address needs coming from different angles but then prioritize, right? So those are key learnings, right? We we’re currently facing ongoing challenges disruptions anywhere within and outside the organization. So it’s just how do you mentally prepare for it? And also how do you put together the team so that we can get the buy-in from everyone? Yep. So I’m a big fan of not delegating but more divide and conquer. Now what will be the goal for next year for other practitioners is one become certified, right? FPAC certified absolutely is going to give you lots of momentum learning, build that appetite to continuously improve. Two is focusing on becoming dynamic business partners. Breaking those silos, breaking those silos, connecting with accounting. Because a lot of stuff that we do is accounting based.
Very important. What has been very successful with me is building a solid relationship with IT and data scientists. Why? Because anything that we do is a hundred percent supportive. And anything that is based from an IT platform standpoint, why data sciences scientist? Because a lot of times they’re the ones that are going to look at it from a macro standpoint. They’re going to be the ones building these codes from a Python R standpoint, but then they could better understand our needs and I could be able to really take that and convert to actionable insights, some creative analytics dashboards and building that tight connection is going to be a big win-win for everyone in the organization. So that is what I’m so looking forward to 2023, kind of keep increasing my overall portfolio of skills and keep adding value.
Love that. Continuing, growing, continuing learning, just always being better. There’s
Room for great goal. Yeah, there definitely is. Well I appreciate your time today and thank you Paul. We’ll go ahead and sign off and go back to the reception.
Thank you. Have a great rest of the afternoon. Thanks. Thanks, bye-Bye
Hector, thanks for that advice. All right, next we’re going to move into some of our favorite advice audio clips from different guest members. So one question we ask all our guests is the advice they would offer for FP&A. Often we ask them what the advice would be for someone starting out, but it can vary from time to time. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a few clips of advice that’s offered. The first clip is from Jack Alexander, who is our second guest on the show. He talks about the importance of mentoring. Next we have Zoe Cook, the financial director at We Are social. And Stephanie, Herbouts, a former finance leader and director who’s turned into a life coach discussing how to avoid burnout, especially if you’re new to the FP&A profession. And then the last clip will come to us from Carl Seidman advisor at Sideman Financial talking about the importance of communication.
I think it’s really trying to leverage what you’ve learned in college, but recognizing that the practical application and the things people looking for are going to be very different out in the real world. And so finding a job with a mentor or a teacher as your boss and somebody who is going to contribute to your growth and development where there are perhaps these rotational experiences that you have, I think are really important. And not getting pigeonholed into, for example, being a revenue analyst or an OPEX analyst or something like that. The downside to these larger FP&A organizations is they become highly specialized in how they’ve carved up the activity and I don’t see as much opportunity for people to become well-rounded, let alone transfer out the organization. And I think all of this speaks to taking ownership for your learning and development. You ain’t done learning, you’ve just begun really would be the best piece of advice I think to give people.
And just one more question around the kind of burnout and mental health. What advice would you offer to somebody who’s coming into the field of FP&A just to help them be able to manage the stress that comes with the often long hours, those compressed times around budget. Just maybe ask each of you, if you were to give either yourself or someone coming to the field starting, what would be the two or three pieces of advice you would give them to try to help maintain that balance? Maybe things that have worked for you or that you’ve seen. And so Zoe, we’ll start with you and then we’ll go over to you Stephanie, on that one.
Zoe Cooke, FP&A Director at We are Social:
Yeah, I think really the best advice that I can give to anyone is give yourself a break. Especially with the sort of forecasting piece. Our job is to try and use maths to tell the future. Is that really realistic? I’m not sure. And I think the other side of that is finance forecasting analysis. That is one piece of what the business should be using to be making decisions. So yes, it’s a really important piece but you’re never going to get it perfect. You’re never going to get it right. And especially I think I really resonated with what Stephanie was saying earlier about being a perfectionist. And I think when you’ve come up through accountings especially, it’s even more so because everything has to balance. It has to be to the penny, it has to be perfect, otherwise you’ve done it wrong. And when you try and take that into FP&A forecasting, especially getting over that kind of mindset of actually I’m not going to get this right and by nature of me putting something down and saying this is the forecast, it’s automatically going to be wrong because so much stuff happens outside of our control that unless you actually are able to tell the future, you are going to get it wrong.
And it’s not the end of the world. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world.
The great advice, remember it’s not the end of the world. We’re never going to be perfect. As I’ve heard of, said, every model is wrong, some are useful. And I like that. I think it was by George Box and the other one I say when I’ve been really close on a forecast I had one time, I think I was within a dollar on something and it would sitting there I’m dumb luck, like wow, you can predict the future type of thing. And I’m like, if I could predict the future, I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere as a millionaire, I wouldn’t be working at this job cause I would’ve been picking stocks. It’s not about predicting the future, it’s about going through a planning process and helping prepare the business to accomplish its objectives. And by trying to predict what’s going to happen helps us figure out how we’re going to get there.
And I think often people forget and they’re like, well my forecast is off and of course it’s off. Nobody’s forecast is perfect. Now if you’re 50% off, you probably need to figure out why. If you’re a couple percent, don’t worry about it. Just keep doing what you’re doing. That’s pretty close. I think there’s thresholds to that. So I think that’s great advice cuz yes, I can remember when I started but I’m off. Then you realize, oh wait, I’m always off. It’s have I gone through the right process? Have I made the right assumptions and am I love the one of give yourself a break cuz that’s so important. We can all be so hard on ourselves both. Stephanie, as you mentioned, a little bit of perfectionist. I can be that way as well. It can be very demanding in the hardest critic on myself. So Stephanie, what’s the advice you would offer?
Actually, I fully agree with Zoe. Yeah do your best. No more, no less. As you said it’s never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be 100% accurate because you cannot predict the future. So yeah, it’s not the end of the world actually. It isn’t and it’s going to work out and yeah, do your best. No more, no less.
Zoe Cooke, FP&A Director at We are Social:
I think the only thing that I would add as well is that sometimes it can feel like it’s the end of the world and it’s okay to feel like that as well. It’s that’s totally valid.
Last question I have for you here is what advice would you offer our audience if they asked you what should they do today to become a better FP&A professional? And I think I’d have an idea why you’re going to go with that based on some of our conversation, but what’s that one thing you would tell them to focus
On? Yeah, I think you probably too, I would say become a better communicator. I would say learn some of those technical skills that are very, very important. That’s not going to hurt you to learn, but to be better at what you do to get noticed, to become an influencer and get spotlighted as somebody who’s going to move up to management and directorship and leadership. It’s become a better public speaker. Go take Toastmaster or go join a Toastmasters club. Go analyze other people’s speeches and understand what it is that you like about it. Identify other speakers that you don’t like and what do you not like about them? But start developing your confidence in the spoken and written word and see how magical it is to your career.
We hope you enjoyed those clips as much as I did. I think there’s some great advice in there. And so I’m going to go ahead and share my advice, I don’t get the opportunity to do this on the show is usually it’s the guest answering my questions. So what would be my advice for someone starting out their career in FP&A? And it would be threefold and this would really apply even if it’s not in fp and a, I think almost any career. This advice. First and foremost, find a mentor, find a trusted advisor who can give you good advice when you’re having a hard time, who has gone through many things you are going through and so can help you realize that look, you’ll get past it, things will get better when they’re going going rough. Second is network. We wouldn’t have this podcast if it wasn’t for LinkedIn and me networking.
So I encourage everybody to be active on LinkedIn. It has transformed my career. I’ve been offered jobs through LinkedIn, I’ve started my own business, I’ve met virtually over a hundred people and I’ve got to host FP&A Today all from getting active on LinkedIn. So make sure you carve out time to network and find ways to make connections with people in your profession. And then last but not least is communicate. Become a better communicator. Now Carl summed this up very well in his advice, but learn to communicate it can help transform your career. All right, so next we’re going to do another special clip. This is from Mario Vasquez who is one of our guests from AFP Philly. He’s a director, I think it’s at Scripps. He works for a TV station doing FP&A and he’s going to share his advice and lessons learned from 2022 in 2023. Last thing I’ll ask you here, and this is really, we’re coming up on q4, right? End of I believe the year’s almost over. Is there any kind of key takeaway for you from 2022 maybe kind of professionally, just a moment or a learning?
Mario Vasquez VP Finance, Scripps:
So this was the year you originally thought maybe 2020 was the year to prove how agile you could be as a finance organization and then 2021 came and I was like maybe 2021 one’s really that year to prove how agile we were. Now I’m thinking it’s 2022. We thought at the beginning, hey we’re out of this, right? It’s going to be a great year. We’re finally out of it. But then we had supply chain issues and seemed like it was coming back and we actually had a pretty good first quarter, then second quarter was like, oh it dipped a little and then third quarter really took a hit and it’s like wow, when you think you’re out of it, all of a sudden it gets worse. So it’s just being able to make sure that your entire organization is very agile. There’s been lots of courses on our sessions. I’m agile, see that word a lot now. So it’s trying to learn all about that and making sure that you as an organization can be as agile as possible. So that’s my biggest takeaway for next year
That’s great. And do you have, you have an area you’re focusing on. So one, you can go two oh way two ways with this, it’s going to be two options. One, is there something you’re focusing on for 2023 or is there some vice you would offer to the fp and a community for 2023?
Mario Vasquez VP Finance, Scripps:
For me, where I’m focusing is trying, I would love to get some sort of AI machine learning implemented in 2023. So when we talk next year.
Next year, yes, I’ll check in on you next year, see
Mario Vasquez VP Finance, Scripps:
Where I’m at on that. Because my goal for 2023 is to get something like that implemented into our organization to free up time. We’ll spend more time doing analysis,
No, that’s great. Good luck with that. Thank you for taking a few minutes, Mario, I’ll let you get back to the conference but enjoy talking with you. Yeah, it
Mario Vasquez VP Finance, Scripps:
Was a pleasure.
All right, thank you Mario for that advice. So the next and last section we have of clips comes to us from just different episodes that we liked. Just some advice or thoughts that we thought everybody in our audience would enjoy. So there are three different clips we’re going to listen to here. The first is from Cameron Janke. He was a former VP at Health Equity and then he is been at Coalitionas leading up their FP&A and he’s going to talk about how he broke into FP&A. This clip for me is a masterclass of how to make the switch from accounting to FP&A. And then the second clip comes to us from our episode from Gen Z, our episode of college internships. We have Charlee, Gabrielle and Brian and they’re going to speak to us about how Gen Z is different from other generations in the workforce.
And I love what they talk about in this episode. They talk about how they hate mundane task, about pay transparency, about mental health. And all of these people are very successful. They had internships at American Express Credit Suisse, one of them’s took a full-time job working for clientbook. And then the last clip is going to come to us from Chris Reiley, founder of Mission Capital Consulting. And he’s going to talk to us about his advice for building a financial model. And you’ll be surprised, it’s really simple advice, but it’s profound. So let’s go ahead and roll those clips.
And so if you are in an organization that’s growing and you have to wear a lot of different hats and you are wanting to be a good performer, I think you can take on a lot of different responsibilities and learn in a lot of different areas. And that was something that I saw. And I found myself trying to create reports, trying to create external facing documents and realizing there’s a lot of forward-looking statements that are placed in S E C documents or investor presentations. And I wanted to know the why behind some of these numbers that I was putting into these filings or investor presentations. And I started to look more into those numbers and realizing, hey, I could add some value here. I could create more of a process behind our annual operating plan. I could create more of a process behind our forecasting.
And oh by the way, it seems like the business would like to know more about these numbers. That creating that connection between the outlook that we public company would be giving and the actual business to help them have buy-in into those numbers. And so I saw a need and I just started doing it. I remember no one went and asked me to really go and do these things. I just started one day, I had an opportunity, some free time, and I just started building out my own operating plan from Bottoms Up. Building out my own forecasting, seeing fluctuations in the trend and then going and asking accounting, Hey what happened here? And as I started doing that myself, what I started realizing is that I remember there was probably three months in accounting started saying someone went to accounting asking a question about the financials.
And I remember overhearing accounting say, well Cameron does that. And it wasn’t something that was in my job description. It wasn’t something that I had been asked to do, but because I had been taking that initiative, people started recognizing, well hey Cameron does that now. Cameron looks at that, Cameron’s documenting some of the reasons why our trend looks like that Cameron’s helping with the forecast. And so I think if you just create an opportunity for yourself just by jumping in and helping where you see a need eventually you can go wherever you want in the organization. That’s the principle. Just higher overarching principle. But that’s kind of how I got into fp and a is just starting to do it myself.
No thank you. And I love that. And I mean it shows the importance of initiative just going and learning and trying to improve yourself and understand what’s going on. It opens up a lot of doors that you might may not even realize can be opened, right? I’m sure when you’re starting to do that, you weren’t thinking, I’m going to go be the FP&A person. I may not even known about it. You’re just like, you’re trying to understand and be better at your job. And it opened up opportunities and I think that’s great advice for anyone, but especially accountants because I, you’ll regularly get asked on LinkedIn knows and things, how can I make that transition to FP&A? And I think your answer there is great advice to just be proactive, to dig in, to start to understand how the business works and it’ll open up opportunities, whether it’s FP&A or operations or wherever you may wanna be, right?
Because everybody’s a little bit different when they get into accounting and try to figure out what they wanna do next. Yeah, I know all of you are what we consider Gen Z, gen generation, and there’s a lot that’s talked about in the media about that, how Gen Z is different and being the first digitally native kind of workforce you guys grew up with, social media, grew up with smartphones. It’s a different era from when I grew up as I was mentioning. So maybe just from starting, how do you guys think, what do you think about when you hear the term Gen Z and do you feel like the generation is coming into the workforce different than prior generations? So maybe we’ll start here, we’ll go with Derek first on this question. If you could maybe talk a little bit to this one.
I do feel like Gen Z’s different there. I mean there’s a lot of reasons why Gen Z’s different. We care a lot about values and purposes of a company and feeling like that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re not just here to make a paycheck, we’re here to make a difference in the world. And that’s like a big blanket statement. I mean not everyone’s going to be just like that or find as much purpose in being part of a company that has a grand mission. But I think that is something that’s a general theme that I’ve seen across my Gen Z peers is they want to feel like they’re a partially bigger themselves.
The other thing that you mentioned earlier in the podcast is that Gen Z doesn’t like manual processes. And I actually think it’s a superpower that’s a superpower of Gen Z. And I think that’s something that we all need to lean into and the employers need to value highly is that we do not want to do manual stuff because we know it’s inefficient. We know it’s not a good use of our time and we often have a lot of ideas to make things better and more efficient and automated. Just looking back at some of my internships in the construction industry I’m really grateful that that company I worked for was willing to take my ideas and implement some of them because the FP&A team still uses some of the things I built for them to automate some of their reporting and things like that. And I still get messages from there’s the FP&A team saying, wow, we just used this Power BI report and it makes my life so much easier. So I think it’s something that companies and Gen Z need to lean into that we don’t wanna do manual work. And it’s not because we’re lazy, it’s because we know there’s a better way and we know that we can create more value if we offload some of these manual processes and automate them. Great. Now I appreciate that. And I think there’s two things I took away there from that is one, just the importance of feeling like you’re making a difference. It’s kind of a change in that you think from Gen Z in general to what we’ve seen in prior generations. And the second is a real focus on wanting to be able to automate and not have not tolerating manual processes, that there’s more frustration and less acceptance of that having grown up in a kind of digitally first generation. So Gabriel, I’ll throw that question over to you. When you think about Gen Z and the things you hear and what they say about the workplace, how do you think about that and do you think’s maybe different about your generation?
Gabriel Valentin Navarro:
Oh my gosh, Gen Z is so different because when I started my first internship last year, I was expecting to start in a corporate office nine to five, Monday through Friday. Everybody’s dressed up, everybody’s there. No, it was hybrid. So my first professional experience was in a hybrid setting. And so that was just very, very different from me growing up for almost 20 years and thinking how my career would look. I definitely did not expect that’s how my career would start and that’s how the workplace would look like. But here we are, the workplace is going to be hybrid. I’m sure that’s what Gen Z wants. We love flexibility, we love to have that option cuz it’s something that’s never been kind of a thing before. And now that we do have it as an option, whether or not some of us take it or not, I think it’s really important.
And the fact that we wanna keep innovating, not just with the workplace environment and the schedule, but also once again, going back to automation, very, very important. I hate tedious work. That’s one thing about finance that about finance that I don’t. And so anytime I encounter that, it’s like how can I make this not tedious? How can I automate this? How can I find a better process to save hours in my day, help my team, help the company, et cetera, et cetera, rather than being like, okay, I’m just going to plow through it. That reluctance to do business as usual and do the same old same old. And so I’m very proud of that just like Derek was saying, that we wanna change things up in that space for sure. And I think lastly, something around transparency, especially pay transparency. I think it’s very important that everyone talks about how much they’re making and kind of the hierarchy promotions structures, because I think it really helps in equality, it helps closing the gaps just as much as we care about helping the world, we should care about helping each other as workers.
And that’s something I think that perhaps previous generations didn’t care about. But I hope that our generation truly takes to heart and cares about more is that it’s not about just promoting and moving up a ladder, but once you do move up, it’s like how are you treating the people that you’re managing? Do they feel like they’re being fairly compensated? Do you feel like you’re being fairly compensated perhaps past generations once again? Or in the past they didn’t really care about that or they were too afraid or they were not willing to discuss those things or think about those things. But I think our generation, gen Z is definitely thinking about those things. And I’m very, very glad especially The Great Resignation, everybody’s moving around, everyone’s finding new jobs because I think pipe people are finding these, starting to realize that they have so much potential, they have so much value. And if an employer is not going to recognize that value, then they’re going to provide it to someone else. And so I’m very proud of my generation for that and hopefully we keep it going and we just make things better for everyone in terms of conditions the workplace and just standards.
Well thank you there. There’s a great answer there. And I loved talking about making the workplace better for people. You know, you mentioned also the great resignation and I can definitely relate to that, having left one job and then a second during that whole COVID period to start my own business beginning of this year. And so it’s really true. You see a lot of those things and some great stuff there. Charlee, what’s your thoughts on the question?
Yeah, I honestly think I would follow in a similar direction to what Gabriel said, but maybe take it a little bit of a step in a different direction around pay transparency. I think that there’s actually an increased amount of transparency in a lot of things that has come from the digital native age. I think that one of the great things about the internet is that it allows individuals to find communities that they might not otherwise find in their physical community. And I think that that’s led to much stronger communities around mental health awareness. I think it’s led to much stronger communities around a variety of illnesses, be that physical or mental and as well as a variety of interests and also variety of life goals too. And so I think that that’s led to a lot of mental health awareness within companies, A lot of parental leave awareness within companies and just other benefits that I think really put the lives of employees first.
And to a certain extent, I think employers are becoming a lot better about recognizing that and taking those initiatives. But I also, I think that Gen Z individuals are a lot better about seeking out some of those initiatives for themselves. I think mental health awareness is a huge thing. Your employer can have things available to you, but for an individual to go and seek out help, that still has to be an individual decision. And I think that Gen Z individuals are very willing to make that decision. I think a lot of people maybe already have or did in high school or whatever, but I think that that’s leading to a larger number of people who are really willing and ready to bring their best selves to the workplace because they are taking care of themselves at home before they show up.
So if someone came to you tomorrow, and I think I know the answer from what we talked about it, but if they asked you for one piece of advice to become a better modeler, they wanted to become better at financial modeling, what would be the one piece you’d give them?
So I would actually say they should build a model of their own lives. That is the way that I learned pretty much all my Excel stuff. I wanted to build a personal budget and now a family budget and just tinkering with that is how I got good at the raw Excel skills. And the reason I say that is because there is theoretically is no learning curve for your own life. You kind of know what’s going on when you’re getting paid, when you have bills to pay. And so in a business you gotta learn all that stuff, but your own life, you just sort of intrinsically know it. And so it’s much easier to model tinker with functions and say okay, I want this output and now I’ve got it. So I built tons and tons of personal models over the years and that led me to experimenting with Excel functions and just all these other cool things that I wouldn’t have necessarily learned on the job. So I feel like that is definitely number one because it sharpens the technical skills right out of the gate and then it prepares you for that phase two stuff where you can start the more strategic thinking because the technical skills are honed. So yeah, I’d say model out your own life if you can.
So the advice basically, if I’m taking it is everybody should basically do a budget, some kind of modeling, whether it’s, hey, whatever I wanna be in 10 years retirement, whatever. But start modeling out those situations that apply to your own life. Take your revenue, take your expenses, look at your assets, your liabilities, all those things that make up basically the financial statements for your own life.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. No, even just do something the next 12 months, keep it basic, paychecks expenses. And then it gets interesting. If you use a credit card, you’ll find that okay, you have expenses one month, but you pay the cash later on and all of a sudden now you’re learning cash flow forecasting instead of just P&L building. And so you can actually draw a lot of parallels from your personal life into the business setting. So just do a couple months, see how it goes, and it becomes a great discipline for you too. So it’s kind of win-win.
Those are some great clips. I really enjoyed them in particular as I listened to Gen Z I know our future is in good hands with people like that coming into the workforce. So before we wrap up this episode, we wanna share one last clip for you and then I’ll give my final thoughts. This last clip comes to us from Soufyan Hamid, an independent FP&A consultant, and he’s going to share what he learned from 2022 and what he is focused on for 2023.
Hi people from FP&A Today. This is the time of the year when we think about what we’ve learned during the year and what we want to learn during the next one. For me, the challenges were impressive. This year I started a new career not only on LinkedIn and developing my training program, but also as an interim manager a self-employed one freelance. And if I really want to give you a learning that I had in 2022, that would be the transferability of skills because the client I had this year was in a completely different industry, in a completely different environment. And yet I could use the skills I already had in the past. And that is an important learning that I wish you can get. In the future to for the year to come my challenges will be completely different as I really want to focus on my training and on my training program, I will have to learn not only to video editing or record videos, but I will also learn to market it. And so my main learnings, I wish them to be linked to sales and marketing so that I can have more skills and be able to bring this to you next year. So for you, I wish a lot of learnings and I wish you a happy New Year 2023, bye.
What a great clip. I love the Christmas tree and the Christmas spirit. He brought just a holiday season. It’s really fun to see him excited for the holidays and share his advice. So thank you for that. So just as a wrap up for the special episode, I wanna thank a few people that FP&A wouldn’t be possible without. So first and foremost, a giant thank you to the audience. Next, I wanna thank all our guests. We’ve had so many great guests, I wish I could list all of them, but thank you. Next, I wanna thank Saw and Sine, they’re the company that edits the audio and video that makes me sound good when I put that and um and that filler word and all those things that I shouldn’t say that I learned about in Toastmasters. So huge thank you to them. And then last but not least is Datarails for being our sponsor. Great FP&A platform. And if you love Excel, remember you can think Datarails. So with that, I just wanna close say I hope everybody has a great holiday season and that you’re able to get some rest and relaxation and come back in 2023 and work with me to find as Anders Liu Linberg puts it that trillion dollar opportunity to help transform the businesses and become the trusted advisors they know we can be. Thank you.