Christian Wattig joins Kevin Appleby on the GrowCFO Show. Christian runs the FP&A boot camp in the USA and is the founder of FP&A Prep. FP&A skills are in greater demand than ever. Kevin and Christian explored how to improve your FP&A skills.
Christian discussed his background growing up in Germany and working for large consumer goods companies like P&G and Unilever. He talked about moving to the US and then transitioning to work in tech at Squarespace. Christian explained how he started teaching FP&A courses, which led him to found his own training company. Some key topics discussed included the importance of understanding both the numbers and the business, the role of AI in forecasting and analysis, and how accuracy needs to be balanced with enabling decision-making. Christian sees continued opportunities in teaching and public speaking going forward.
What FP&A skills do you need?
Christian discussed how understanding the business is as important for FP&A professionals as understanding the numbers. He talked about how forecasting and analysis require solving puzzles with the numbers but also understanding people and psychology when it comes to business partnering, influencing stakeholders, and communicating the company’s financial story. Christian emphasized that having an impact goes beyond just creating models and reports – FP&A professionals need to convince others to take their recommendations and implement changes. He stressed the importance of asking the right questions to understand what really matters to business partners beyond just dollar impacts.
The impact of AI in FP&A
Christian shared his experience implementing a machine learning model for forecasting at Unilever. He found that it initially provided more accurate forecasts than their previous methods. However, he realized it was difficult to explain variances in leadership used to traditional forecasting approaches. This led Christian to understand that the focus of AI should be on experimenting with different input metrics and data granularity rather than adjusting individual forecasts. He also noted that working with AI requires viewing past data as if it hasn’t happened yet to train models continuously. Christian believes AI can help with tasks like summarization and storytelling for FP&A professionals, but humans still need to apply judgment and address uncertainty.
- Christian Wattig on Linkedin
- Kevin Appleby on LinkedIn
- GrowCFO FP&A Boot camp
- FP&A Competency Framework
Introducing Christian Wattig (0:11)
Career progression and FP&A experience in various industries. (0:20)
FPGA training program and its impact on finance teams. (3:36)
Implementing zero-based budgeting and managing stakeholder expectations. (10:19)
Forecast accuracy and decision-making in finance. (14:36)
Using AI in financial analysis and decision-making. (20:48)
AI use in podcast production and storytelling. (29.05)
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