Preparing for Digital Readiness in Finance: AFP Certifications

Qinthara Fasya, DigitalCFO Asia | 18 January 2022

The future is here. How can you remain pertinent in the growing Digital Finance industry?

Staying adaptable to adapt effortlessly into the developing world of digitisation has never been more crucial in our ever-changing economy and globalisation. Obtaining suitable certifications for your finance industry career path might help you verify your expertise while also increasing your employability. For financial professionals, there are a number of important certifications that may be used to demonstrate their knowledge and ability.

A financial certification can help you thrive professionally and give you an advantage over the competition when it comes to finding a job that matches your skills and interests. Certifications also aid in the development of theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as a better grasp of your subject, which is essential to demonstrate your new talents in the workplace.

DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Himashi Soriano, Managing Director at Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), on how AFP certifications can improve digital readiness for finance leaders. Learn how to successfully negotiate financial possibilities, make sound business decisions, evaluate company ideas for financial feasibility, and explore a number of funding and growth alternatives with these certifications.


AFP and how it differs from other Associations

The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) is a professional society and certifying body with over 16,000 members globally. AFP is headquartered in the U.S., and has a regional office in Singapore to support the Asia Pacific region. We have been serving the global finance community for over 40 years in our mission to advance the success of finance professionals and their organisations.

AFP developed and administers two world-class certifications in treasury and FP&A, which are the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) and the Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis Professional (FPAC), the latter of which is the only certification in FP&A. We also conduct a great deal of research, produce studies, conduct surveys and have practitioner advisory councils.

What makes them different? AFP has been sounding the alarm regarding digital readiness in finance for at least a decade. Digitalisation did not appear out of thin air. It is, in fact, why we developed our certification and training — to upskill and fill skills gaps in this area. Our advocacy, education and training help finance professionals all over the world advance their careers, build resilience, upskill and reskill and become invaluable contributors to their organisations. 

AFP is full on into the digital age, and it is no secret there is a significant skills gap in data analysis and business partnering, as well as an inability to use technology. This is causing a great deal of anxiety for CFOs because businesses have more access to data than at any time in history and need the right skills to compete and thrive.

So I would say that one of the chief benefits for those who earn our certifications is the instant credibility it provides that they’re ready for the digital age. When you see ‘CTP’ or ‘FPAC’ behind a professional’s name, it tells you that person has earned one of the most challenging certifications in finance, and that they’re ready to participate and lead in the digital age.

Himashi Soriano, Managing Director at Association for Financial Professionals

Second, earning these certifications provides you with a level of resiliency in uncertain times, such as the pandemic or as Accounting functions are replaced through automation. Your expertise becomes a valued asset to your organisation, putting you a step ahead of your peers.

Assessing the digital readiness for finance leaders in SG & APAC

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we were moving faster than the speed of sound. What the pandemic did was accelerate us to warp speed, and we have now fully arrived in the digital age. Companies everywhere are adopting a digital-first strategy to stay competitive and relevant, but as I mentioned above, they’re also realizing that there is a serious skills gap when it comes to making this happen.

We know that APAC and Singapore specifically, have been resolute in leading the 4th Industrial Revolution. However, in 2019, the NTUC Learning Hub released a study that reported a significant data analysis skills gap among professionals in Singapore. As more studies are done and surveys of CFOs are taken, the results keep coming up the same: FP&A is not digital ready. This is not sustainable and has to change.

To implement a successful digital-first strategy, you must have skilled people in place, otherwise, the transition will never happen. We can’t talk about digital readiness without addressing the human skills of digital finance and being a good business partner. Upskilling our people to include data analysis is critical to helping our business partners understand the data that will allow them to make the best and most informed business decisions possible.

Pre-pandemic, upskilling was a luxury that could be kicked down the road. This is no longer the case — and everyone knows it. The companies that invest in their talent, and finance professionals who invest in themselves, will be the ones that come out ahead.

Technology is foundational to unlocking both the opportunity for competitive advantage and to achieving greater operational and financial efficiency. Establishing a roadmap that focuses on a digital-first foundation should be viewed as an essential part of the journey. That said, the roadmap is about more than technology. It needs to embrace the broader business strategy, with collaboration and partnership being the keys to success.

The strength of digital technologies in the transformation journey does not lie purely in the individual technologies themselves. The real strength and value are linked to skill sets and how companies embed these technologies in their operations to transform the business.

Establishing AFP and Growing its brand in APAC

Partnerships, professional networking, branding and certification growth are critical to growing our presence in the region. To achieve this, we are partnering with organisations, corporations and financial institutions to address the unique needs of APAC and Asia.

We have established APAC-specific advisory councils for each discipline, and the council members are leaders in FP&A and treasury from corporate finance teams all over the Asia Pacific region. We meet often to share expertise, thought leadership, network and better understand how both FP&A and treasury are helping to shape decision-making in organisations in this region.

We are also building our partnerships with approved test-prep providers for our certifications. AFP’s certifications are rigorous, and we want to ensure our certification candidates have all the necessary tools to succeed in passing the exam. Because Asia Pacific is so diverse, it is also important that those who want to sit for the CTP or FPAC have access to test prep in their native language.

When presented with the choice of certifications, professionals — particularly those in corporate finance — are choosing the FPAC and CTP over our competitors. Why? Because AFP’s certifications are specific to what they do in their day-to-day functions. Finance professionals in this region are excited when they hear about our certifications because now they are not just upskilling for the sake of upskilling: They’re getting the certification that aligns with their work. 

Because AFP is new to the region, we are hungry and excited to help. The collective knowledge and expertise AFP offers is something we are inspired to share with the APAC region. We believe that, by being a trusted and reliable source of knowledge for financial professionals, we can earn your trust and confidence.  

The most important thing is, we’re here to stay. The leadership of AFP is committed to being a strong presence in Asia. We know there is a need for what we offer, and we are more than capable of being the preferred resource for finance and treasury professionals in APAC.