5 Things to Know About the Financial Planning & Analysis Team
Manish Patel, director of Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), tells us how his team brings clarity to company-wide decision-making and why working with FP&A is so rewarding. As part of the wider Finance department, FP&A partners with all aspects of the business, providing data-driven financial insights that set the company for future growth. In these five facts, Manish tells us how the team impacts decisions, why he recently renamed FP&A, and how he's taking the team to the next level.
1. FP&A is more than just control and budgets, we help drive business growth
We're trusted business partners who support investment decisions, business cases and provide clarity on financials through budgets and forecasts. It has been great to see how the rest of the organization embraces the team and recognize what we can bring to the table. Being a business partner means anyone can come to us if they want to get a project or innovation off the ground. We bring clarity on the financial implications to make sure investments are robust to help steer towards the right decision.
We ask questions like, What is the right level of marketing investment to deliver our long-term ambitions? How do we measure our investments, and what are the expected returns?
The FP&A team used to be called the Controlling team, the German equivalent of FP&A. In English, however, controlling would be interpreted as just financial control or accounting. This caused some confusion with non-German employees and candidates. We, therefore, decided to rename our team to FP&A, which brings greater clarity to what we do and why we exist.
2. The team works with every part of the business
We work with every single area of the company, including product, marketing, and operations. We are uniquely positioned to connect the dots between what happens in one part of the company and how it impacts another. For example, when we see the implications of new product features or policy, such as the recent rollout of no questions asked free cancellations, we clarified and monitored the implications on marketing returns and the costs we would incur with sales and customer service.
3. We still have the startup mentality and roll up our sleeves
Even though we work in a mature growth company, the FP&A team is still developing systems and processes — this means we have to roll up our sleeves and build financial models to deliver timely and efficient data for decision-making. During COVID, this has proved invaluable and hugely insightful for the business to take swift and effective action. We have seen customer behaviors that have been stable for many years dramatically change.
The team had a lot of fun creating our official Finance team mission: To help drive sustainable growth by bringing data-driven financial insights as trusted business partners. With the team day, we showed that finance can be fun and creative too.
For example, the share of customers taking domestic tours, activities, and attractions has tripled while the proportion of customers booking within seven days of the activity has doubled. Our understanding of these trends and their implications enables us to work with Marketing to ensure we take the appropriate action.
4. We’re a collaborative and supportive team
We are highly collaborative and challenge each other on the best way to help the business solve complex problems. We ask questions like, What is the right level of marketing investment to deliver our long-term ambitions? How do we measure our investments, and what are the expected returns? We thrive in a fast-paced environment, have a smile on our faces even during the busiest of times, and always make sure to take the time during meetings and team events to celebrate each other's success.
During Zoom calls, we make time to get to know each other personally, but it still feels distant. So we organized an after-work Finance picnic in the park when it was still warm out. After the picnic in the park, we arranged a separate team day where we focused on where we wanted to go in the future. It was also a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our successes, which can get lost in the day to day. We also discussed how we help the business today and how we can and need to take our team to the next level.
The team had a lot of fun creating our official Finance team mission: To help drive sustainable growth by bringing data-driven financial insights as trusted business partners. With the team day,we showed that finance can be fun and creative too.
5. We’re highly adaptable and career development is important to us
As a team, we're always learning something new, but the COVID-19 situation has exponentially increased our learning and understanding of the business. First, the Finance team was part of the swift Wave strategy response. The strategy uncovered findings in our cost base, e.g., which costs were fixed vs. which were variable and discretionary vs. non-discretionary. From these findings, we were able to take action. These numbers will help us stay flexible in the current situation and are now embedded into our ongoing discussions with the business.
A changing market and new customer dynamics have seen historically stable metrics become difficult to predict, which is having huge implications on our financials. When travel was restricted, cancellations were significantly higher than in the past. Currently, many customers are booking with shorter notice and predominantly exploring their own regions and booking in their home country. As a result, we have rebuilt our models and are supporting the business to incorporate these insights in an agile way to react to the changing dynamics.
We strive to learn every day, whether it’s about how the business works or developing a new skill or system. Career progression and development are important to us in the Finance team. We are committed to developing and growing our talent and are launching a finance mentoring program this year.
Interested in joining the FP&A team? Please check out our Careers page.
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