FP&A Manager Salary and Positions

Hi,

I'm thinking about pursuing a career in corporate FP&A and I was wondering what senior positions FP&A may lead to at the company. People on WSO like to shit on this stuff because it's not as high-profile and more vanilla than i-banking/consulting, but for those that are good and successfully able to navigate the corporate ladder, what senior positions can FP&A analysts eventually hold?

Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) Jobs and Salaries

While there is not as much talk about FP&A roles on this site, it can be a very desirable career path. Our users share great details about the career trajectory and the payscale below. Our users also shared that FP&A can lead to CFO level positions if you have a background in accounting as well.

User @Dr Joe" shared a detailed post on the subject:

Dr Joe:
I started in corporate FP&A (F100, financial sector) about a year ago. In my experience, these jobs have growth prospects, but it takes a very long time to progress. For example, I think typical path might be:

Format -
(title - min salary, max salary, bonus, average time for top 10% of performers to progress to next step, average time for the next 40% to progress, standard deviation of time to progress (using analyst to sr analyst as baseline))

(note that remaining 50% do not progress at each stage - this is important, think about it - lots of sr analysts with 20 years of service)

Analyst - 50, 63, 5-10, 2, 4, baseline standard deviation (BSD)
Sr Analyst - 65, 75, 7-12, 2, 5, 1.5 BSD
Manager - 75, 90, 10-20, 2, 4, 1 BSD
Director - 85, 120, 10-30, 2, 8, 2 BSD (lots of people get stuck here)
AVP - 130, 200, 40-80, 2, 5, 1 BSD (if you got here, you are probably thought to have leadership potential by upper management)
VP - 200, 400, would guess 60-200 for bonus, don't know the rest.

Note that the above is for FP&A. I myself got promoted to corporate strategy 6 months in, where the growth is significantly better - it is basically assumed you are in that top 10% by virtue of being there, but of course you have to produce, and hours get worse too.
You have to stand out to move on from FP&A - the surest way of doing this is simply working 60+ hours a week. People will look at you like you are crazy if you do this, but make sure you are generating good work. Never say no to a project, no matter how simple or boring or bitch-work-ish or how busy you are. Ask people for projects, and if you don't get any, make up projects for yourself. "Wouldn't it be nice if ___" and go and make the ___, or study the _____ and write up a report and send it out to those who could benefit. If you want to get into strategy, think strategically and come up with things to study on your own, and hope that someone notices and/or uses your work. If working 60hrs and your job takes 40, you should have plenty of time to do this.

I should add that in order to be in the top 10% (and follow track described above) you would likely need to be doing most of the things mentioned above.

Becoming a CFO after FP&A

Past the professional point described by User @Dr Joe", is the CFO level position. However, it is not easy to just become a CFO. User @fpna" shared their experience in FP&A and how they'd approach their career differently a second time.

fpna:
I am 10 years into FP&A and at the director level. I have an MBA but no CPA (working on it now). Not having a CPA is definitely holding me back from moving on b/c you see more positions for VP of Finance than VP of FP&A. VP of Finance positions want you to manage FP&A and all of the accounting, tax, treasury, internal audit, etc, functions. Without a CPA or big 4 experience will definitely hold you back from the CFO spot. Pre-Enron and SOX days, FP&A was probably a pretty good route to CFO. You work with all the senior leaders and get a good grasp on all aspects of your business.

If I could do over, I'd get my CPA and work in public accounting for a few years and then go back for an MBA. And then jump to corporate FP&A with CFO as the end goal. However, FP&A can drive you crazy. Endless board slides, variance analysis, months of budget season, and so on. I cringe now when I read an FP&A job posting. You definitely have to make the time investment in moving up the corporate ladder. Any sort of top-10 MBA, consulting background, etc might move you up faster initially and then things will even out.

User @_bird_" went on to explain some misconceptions that exist about becoming a CFO:

_bird_ - Corporate Finance Analyst:
I think there are misconceptions about what CFOs actually do. It will obviously vary from company to company, but in my experience, CFOs are spending equal, if not more time on tasks related to accounting, financial reporting, internal controls, audit, SEC reporting, etc, etc, than they are on strategy, financing considerations, cash management, and review/analysis. Basically, most CFOs are simply the top accountant in the organization. This might not have been true in the past, but since SOX, it is pretty much a sure thing that the CFO will be a CPA. but as is the case with everything, there are exceptions to the norm.

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Comments (24)

 
Feb 19, 2011 - 4:44pm

The highest reasonable position that someone in FP&A can get to is Director of Finance or VP of Finance. I think anyone who plays their cards intelligently can get there by the end of their career. It would also be possible, I suppose, to become a CFO, though for obvious reasons that may not be as common.

A lot of the FP&A big wigs in my organization are CPAs that started their careers in public accounting (think Big 4 back when they were the Big 8). If I were dead set on making a career in FP&A, I would start with public accounting for a few years before making the switch.

The great thing about FP&A, I feel, is the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. At my FP&A position, I do a lot of Cost and Revenue forecasting as well as month-end accounting activities on a regular basis. However, I occasionally get opportunities to do interesting "ad-hoc" projects. These include pricing analysis, market penetration analysis for new product lines, and more. My manager even does capital projects analysis and M&A due diligence, which I hope to get some exposure to over the next couple of years. With exposure to projects that have a tangible impact on your firm, I feel you could make a strong case to move into strategy/corporate development, and in fact know of people who have done just that. This would, however, require you to take some initiative to step outside the regular FP&A role.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?
  • 2
 
Best Response
Feb 19, 2011 - 5:02pm

I started in corporate FP&A (F100, financial sector) about a year ago. In my experience, these jobs have growth prospects, but it takes a very long time to progress. For example, I think typical path might be:

Format -
(title - min salary, max salary, bonus, average time for top 10% of performers to progress to next step, average time for the next 40% to progress, standard deviation of time to progress (using analyst to sr analyst as baseline))

(note that remaining 50% do not progress at each stage - this is important, think about it - lots of sr analysts with 20 years of service)

Analyst - 50, 63, 5-10, 2, 4, baseline standard deviation (BSD)
Sr Analyst - 65, 75, 7-12, 2, 5, 1.5 BSD
Manager - 75, 90, 10-20, 2, 4, 1 BSD
Director - 85, 120, 10-30, 2, 8, 2 BSD (lots of people get stuck here)
AVP - 130, 200, 40-80, 2, 5, 1 BSD (if you got here, you are probably thought to have leadership potential by upper management)
VP - 200, 400, would guess 60-200 for bonus, don't know the rest.

Note that the above is for FP&A. I myself got promoted to corporate strategy 6 months in, where the growth is significantly better - it is basically assumed you are in that top 10% by virtue of being there, but of course you have to produce, and hours get worse too. You have to stand out to move on from FP&A - the surest way of doing this is simply working 60+ hours a week. People will look at you like you are crazy if you do this, but make sure you are generating good work. Never say no to a project, no matter how simple or boring or bitch-work-ish or how busy you are. Ask people for projects, and if you don't get any, make up projects for yourself. "Wouldn't it be nice if ___" and go and make the ___, or study the _____ and write up a report and send it out to those who could benefit. If you want to get into strategy, think strategically and come up with things to study on your own, and hope that someone notices and/or uses your work. If working 60hrs and your job takes 40, you should have plenty of time to do this.

I should add that in order to be in the top 10% (and follow track described above) you would likely need to be doing most of the things mentioned above.

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any further questions.

  • 9
 
Mar 25, 2013 - 6:53pm

Dr Joe:
I started in corporate FP&A (F100, financial sector) about a year ago. In my experience, these jobs have growth prospects, but it takes a very long time to progress. For example, I think typical path might be:

Format -
(title - min salary, max salary, bonus, average time for top 10% of performers to progress to next step, average time for the next 40% to progress, standard deviation of time to progress (using analyst to sr analyst as baseline))

(note that remaining 50% do not progress at each stage - this is important, think about it - lots of sr analysts with 20 years of service)

Analyst - 50, 63, 5-10, 2, 4, baseline standard deviation (BSD)
Sr Analyst - 65, 75, 7-12, 2, 5, 1.5 BSD
Manager - 75, 90, 10-20, 2, 4, 1 BSD
Director - 85, 120, 10-30, 2, 8, 2 BSD (lots of people get stuck here)
AVP - 130, 200, 40-80, 2, 5, 1 BSD (if you got here, you are probably thought to have leadership potential by upper management)
VP - 200, 400, would guess 60-200 for bonus, don't know the rest.

Note that the above is for FP&A. I myself got promoted to corporate strategy 6 months in, where the growth is significantly better - it is basically assumed you are in that top 10% by virtue of being there, but of course you have to produce, and hours get worse too. You have to stand out to move on from FP&A - the surest way of doing this is simply working 60+ hours a week. People will look at you like you are crazy if you do this, but make sure you are generating good work. Never say no to a project, no matter how simple or boring or bitch-work-ish or how busy you are. Ask people for projects, and if you don't get any, make up projects for yourself. "Wouldn't it be nice if ___" and go and make the ___, or study the _____ and write up a report and send it out to those who could benefit. If you want to get into strategy, think strategically and come up with things to study on your own, and hope that someone notices and/or uses your work. If working 60hrs and your job takes 40, you should have plenty of time to do this.

I should add that in order to be in the top 10% (and follow track described above) you would likely need to be doing most of the things mentioned above.

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any further questions.

I know this is an old post that got dug up for other reasons, but now that I read this, I'm wondering if anyone knows how accurate this, especially coming in from Big 4, i.e. three years at a Big 4 and coming in at SA level.

 
Feb 19, 2011 - 5:10pm

^^^ great post Dr Joe. If I had any silver bananas to give, you'd get one.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?
  • 1
 
Feb 19, 2011 - 6:21pm

Hi,

Thanks both for great responses I gave you both silver bananas (sayandarula, now you should be able to give dr joe a SB lol), So basically, it seems like a lot of people get stuck at director, which is around 200k, but is that really that bad? I mean, 200k is a lot of money, your work doesn't consume your whole life like in i-banking, and you still have some room for even higher pay if someone leaves/you get lucky. Plus, couldn't you jump ship from a F500 to a smaller company at a more senior position and start from there? What other exits can there be and do you think that once one gets to that stage in FP&A, the work is interesting (I've heard lots of complaints about the work sucking at the junior level)? I don't really care too much about salary, I just want a job that is interesting (by that I mean isn't so terrible that I wake up everyday praying it's Sat/Sun since no job is going to be mind-blowingly awesome IRL), allows me to have some life outside of work (60-70 hrs are fine, above that I don't think I can handle), and adds value to the company/society or is a decision-making/forward looking role. I think FP&A kind of fits this, but I want to double check.

My long-term goal is to have enough senior financial management experience and then join either a startup or a mid-sized company as a very senior executive or CFO and growth the hell out of it if I never become a corporate BSD at a F500 company. What level would I typically need to attain in order to exit to something like this typically? Also, why Big 4 public accounting experience over starting at a F500 company as an analyst? I thought Big 4 guys mostly just end up as controllers since they have little forward looking experience. I definitely will sit for the CA/CPA (depending on where I live), but why do I need to work at EY to become a CFO?

Last question, how does being a controller compare to financial positions? Are they joined at the hip somewhere or is controlling purely accounting/controls-oriented? How does one figure out which side he or she wants to be on?

Thanks and sorry for all the questions

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.
 
Feb 21, 2011 - 12:26pm

i work in big 4 audit, and have seen numerous people leave the firm for fp&a roles in industry, including director of fp&a at a major publicly held company. I think it depends on the specific business, but if key people in the fp&a department are ex-big 4, chances are very good they will be looking to hire someone with a similar background.

the controller function is much more oriented towards pure accounting (debits/credits) and has ownership of the GL. this is obviously a natural fit for someone with big 4 experience, but it is not an appealing job in my opinion. you are locked into the constraints of GAAP and are most likely dealing with auditors on a regular basis. the upside of working as a controller is the high transferability of skills to the CFO level. At almost all of my clients, the CFO previously worked as a controller earlier in their career.

i think the advantage of starting in the big 4 is that you literally see your exit opps on a daily basis. You can talk with client contacts and get a feel for the types of jobs out there. I know many VPs of accounting/finance who make $250K+ and work around 40-50 hours a week. it's not a bad gig.

 
Feb 21, 2011 - 5:48pm

Is it possible to go from Big 4 to a more finance-oriented role though but still in a corporate setting? Also, if the end goal is CFO, would Big 4 or management consulting be better and what is the typical career path (if it's possible to define one)?

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.
 
Feb 21, 2011 - 7:10pm

difficult to answer your first question without more specific information. after a quick search of these boards, it is obvious making the jump from big 4 audit to banking and other FO finance roles is nearly impossible without getting a top MBA or having serious connections on the inside. also, as noted on this site, making the jump from a big 4 transaction services group increases your chances, albeit not much. i have seen nearly 30-40 people quit at various levels for jobs in corporate accounting, financial reporting, internal audit, fp&a, transaction services, and government.

regarding your second question, it really depends on the company. at some places, the CFO is essentially the top accountant, while elsewhere, the CFO has less exposure to the accounting function and is more focused on strategy and treasury related items. if you end goal is to be a CFO, i think you have the best odds of making it with a big 4 audit background, relative to your described alternative. the career path will vary as well, but expect to climb the ladder for at least 15-20 years.

 
Jun 13, 2011 - 6:15pm

I am 10 years into FP&A and at the director level. I have an MBA but no CPA (working on it now). Not having a CPA is definitely holding me back from moving on b/c you see more positions for VP of Finance than VP of FP&A. VP of Finance positions want you to manage FP&A and all of the accounting, tax, treasury, internal audit, etc, functions. Without a CPA or big 4 experience will definitely hold you back from the CFO spot. Pre-Enron and SOX days, FP&A was probably a pretty good route to CFO. You work with all the senior leaders and get a good grasp on all aspects of your business.

If I could do over, I'd get my CPA and work in public accounting for a few years and then go back for an MBA. And then jump to corporate FP&A with CFO as the end goal. However, FP&A can drive you crazy. Endless board slides, variance analysis, months of budget season, and so on. I cringe now when I read an FP&A job posting. You definitely have to make the time investment in moving up the corporate ladder. Any sort of top-10 MBA, consulting background, etc might move you up faster initially and then things will even out.

 
Jun 14, 2011 - 1:08pm

fpna:
I am 10 years into FP&A and at the director level. I have an MBA but no CPA (working on it now). Not having a CPA is definitely holding me back from moving on b/c you see more positions for VP of Finance than VP of FP&A. VP of Finance positions want you to manage FP&A and all of the accounting, tax, treasury, internal audit, etc, functions. Without a CPA or big 4 experience will definitely hold you back from the CFO spot. Pre-Enron and SOX days, FP&A was probably a pretty good route to CFO. You work with all the senior leaders and get a good grasp on all aspects of your business.

If I could do over, I'd get my CPA and work in public accounting for a few years and then go back for an MBA. And then jump to corporate FP&A with CFO as the end goal. However, FP&A can drive you crazy. Endless board slides, variance analysis, months of budget season, and so on. I cringe now when I read an FP&A job posting. You definitely have to make the time investment in moving up the corporate ladder. Any sort of top-10 MBA, consulting background, etc might move you up faster initially and then things will even out.

Thanks, I appreciate the insight!

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?
 
Jun 15, 2011 - 12:23pm

fpna:
I am 10 years into FP&A and at the director level. I have an MBA but no CPA (working on it now). Not having a CPA is definitely holding me back from moving on b/c you see more positions for VP of Finance than VP of FP&A. VP of Finance positions want you to manage FP&A and all of the accounting, tax, treasury, internal audit, etc, functions. Without a CPA or big 4 experience will definitely hold you back from the CFO spot. Pre-Enron and SOX days, FP&A was probably a pretty good route to CFO. You work with all the senior leaders and get a good grasp on all aspects of your business.

If I could do over, I'd get my CPA and work in public accounting for a few years and then go back for an MBA. And then jump to corporate FP&A with CFO as the end goal. However, FP&A can drive you crazy. Endless board slides, variance analysis, months of budget season, and so on. I cringe now when I read an FP&A job posting. You definitely have to make the time investment in moving up the corporate ladder. Any sort of top-10 MBA, consulting background, etc might move you up faster initially and then things will even out.

Wow, so I guess Big 4/CPA really is the key to becoming a CFO then? Jeez, I've been knocking on the wrong door this whole time my junior year (I've been searching far and wide for banking/management consulting jobs) given that my goal is to become a CFO. Why is it that this experience is better than banking/consulting for CFO roles? Also, does anyone know of any good books about becoming a CFO or something along those lines?

thanks!

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.
 
Jun 15, 2011 - 1:22pm

i think there are misconceptions about what CFOs actually do. it will obviously vary from company to company, but in my experience, CFOs are spending equal, if not more time on tasks related to accounting, financial reporting, internal controls, audit, SEC reporting, etc, etc, than they are on strategy, financing considerations, cash management, and review/analysis. basically, most CFOs are simply the top accountant in the organization. this might not have been true in the past, but since SOX, it is pretty much a sure thing that the CFO will be a CPA. but as is the case with everything, there are exceptions to the norm.

 
Jun 16, 2011 - 11:00am

Yes, completely agree with bird. To be a public company CFO, you have to have a strong accounting background. There is that high level strategy stuff, but you are also reviewing monthly close, accounting issues, cash, and so on.

 
Jun 16, 2011 - 11:40am

Great, great stuff by fpna. It's nice to see someone with actual experience positing.

Bird made a great point with this comment –
at some places, the CFO is essentially the top accountant, while elsewhere, the CFO has less exposure to the accounting function and is more focused on strategy and treasury related items.

CFO.com did an analysis of the backgrounds of a bunch of CFO's. MBAs were not uncommon, but there were more CPAs than MBAs. Far more CFOs came from Big 4 than from FP&A.

I read elsewhere on cfo.com that the CFO role at public companies has been altered by Sarbanes Oxley – SOX compliance is now a big part of the job – on top of the accounting and financial reporting functions, which have always been major responsibilities.

 
Jun 24, 2011 - 9:52pm

Hi guys,

I'm actually trying to break into ER/HFs myself, but I wanted to ask a quick question:

To the people working in, let's call it industry finance, do you enjoy your jobs or is it really shitty/boring? People have mentioned that growth within is a bit slow, sometimes work is monotonous, pay is obviously not as great and it overall doesn't have the fast-paced/prestigious environment that I-banking and whatnot offer. However, it is more chill in terms of hours, people are less cutthroat/snotty, and pay is quite good as you move up. Do advantages like these make up for some of the "ordinary" parts of the job, or do you desperately want out? I hope I'm not being an ass and I tried to choose my words carefully (I truly apologize if something offended you because that's not my intention), but I'm just curious.

 
Mar 25, 2013 - 8:39am

Hi...need some inputs - I am a CA with 10 yrs experience in FP&A; Internal Audits; ERM; SOX; Business Process Re-Engineering and little pricing. Dont have much of accounting experience (apart from around 1 yr at start of my career). I want to go back to FP&A. What will be the long term scope.

 
Mar 25, 2013 - 8:40am

Hi...need some inputs - I am a CA with 10 yrs experience in FP&A; Internal Audits; ERM; SOX; Business Process Re-Engineering and little pricing. Dont have much of accounting experience (apart from around 1 yr at start of my career). I want to go back to FP&A. What will be the long term scope.

 
Mar 26, 2013 - 5:41am

That answer did not match with the question at all. Dont get me wrong, its a good answer, but probably the question is not matching. See - what I wanted to know is that with my overall experience (FP&A; Pricing; Business Process Re-engineering; SOX; Internal Audit; ERM) which is most suitable?

 
Mar 26, 2013 - 9:13am

infodel:
That answer did not match with the question at all. Dont get me wrong, its a good answer, but probably the question is not matching. See - what I wanted to know is that with my overall experience (FP&A; Pricing; Business Process Re-engineering; SOX; Internal Audit; ERM) which is most suitable?

No shit its not the answer to your question. I was asking my own question. Is that ok with you?

 
Mar 26, 2013 - 9:14am

Road to manager or director of FP&A (Originally Posted: 02/12/2016)

Hi,

I am a Sr. Analyst in FP&A and want to know if I need my CPA to move into management role or eventually director type role. I have my MBA and currently have about 2 years experience.

Thanks.

 
Mar 26, 2013 - 9:15am

No not at all. CPA is a nice thing to have but not at all necessary in corporate fin. The only times it may be necessary are in certain controller or high ranking accounting roles. I've seen instances where companies find the person they want internally for a controller role and then push them to get their CPA. If you have an MBA you already check the either MBA or CPA box.

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