Switching From Annual To Ongoing Financial Planning

4 mins read

14 March 2023

It is evident that continuous financial planning is a critical component of financial success in today’s fast-paced and complex financial world.

Annual financial planning may no longer be sufficient in today’s ever-changing economic conditions. In recent years, we have seen economic conditions change rapidly and unpredictably. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, caused widespread disruptions to businesses and economies worldwide. Annual financial planning may not be able to keep up with such rapid changes and may leave businesses unprepared for unexpected events.

The COVID-19 pandemic also brought with it, the rise of technology and globalization, competition has become more intense than ever before. Due to this, businesses need to be agile and adaptable to stay ahead of the competition. Annual financial planning may not provide enough flexibility to respond quickly to changing market conditions.

Customer needs and preferences are also constantly evolving, and businesses need to be able to adapt to these changes to remain relevant. Annual financial planning may not allow businesses to allocate resources effectively to meet changing customer demands. As businesses grow and expand, their financial operations become more complex. Annual financial planning may not be sufficient to address the growing complexity of financial operations and may require more frequent reviews and adjustments.

Adding to that, technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, and businesses need to keep up with the latest trends to stay competitive. Annual financial planning may not be able to incorporate the latest technological advancements and may result in suboptimal resource allocation.

Limitations Of Traditional Annual Financial Planning

Traditional annual financial planning has several issues that can limit its effectiveness:

Limited flexibility: Annual financial planning is typically based on assumptions about the future, which can be inaccurate or change rapidly. This lack of flexibility can result in plans that are out of date or unrealistic, making it difficult to adjust to changing circumstances.

Lack of agility: Annual financial planning can be slow to respond to changes in the market or in the organization. This can result in missed opportunities or inefficient use of resources.

Short-term focus: Annual financial planning tends to focus on short-term goals and objectives, which can hinder the ability of organizations to achieve long-term success.

Siloed decision-making: Traditional annual financial planning often results in siloed decision-making, with each department or business unit developing its own plan without considering the impact on the organization as a whole. This can result in conflicting priorities and suboptimal resource allocation.

Inability to adapt to uncertainty: In today’s rapidly changing business environment, uncertainty is a constant factor. Traditional annual financial planning may not be able to adequately account for uncertainty or provide the necessary flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.

These issues with traditional annual financial planning can limit its effectiveness in helping organizations achieve their financial goals and objectives. Businesses may need to adopt more agile, adaptive, and collaborative financial planning approaches to overcome these limitations and stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

Benefits Of Continuous Financial Planning

Based on a vast array of data and insights, a continuous approach enables firms to optimize business performance in real-time. Continuous planning enables departments to work cohesively, manage unpredictability, and gain visibility across an organization by providing managers and decision makers with the information they need, when they need it. This is how:

Increase the frequency and method of planning. Continuous planning is forward-looking and dynamic, in contrast to traditional planning, which is static and backward-looking. Organizations should rethink their planning process to allow quick review cycles, analysis, and modifications by switching from a static annual plan to a more continuous periodicity, such as quarterly or monthly. In the end, this enables companies to bridge the gap between planning, execution, and analysis, greatly enhancing agility by enabling course correction based on up-to-date data.

Establishing the appropriate operating rhythm will  provide leaders with a complete picture of the company, deeper communication between organizational departments and helps to build the system for better tracking success and identifying possible problems early on. Additionally, it enables improved cross-leadership collaboration. Some companies have started holding bi-weekly meetings to discuss product expenditures, marketing plans, and performance. This gave the larger team a structure to report back by enabling them to more effectively track success.

Reducing cloud-based uncertainty. Three key components make up modern planning: continuous, company-wide, and cloud-based. Adopting technologies in the cloud gives greater accessibility to data, real-time insights and analytics, enabling finance directors with the capacity to review and prioritize short and long term goals.


In conclusion, continuous financial planning is an essential tool for achieving financial stability and success. The traditional approach of creating a financial plan and revisiting it annually is no longer sufficient in today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving financial landscape.

By adopting continuous financial planning, individuals and organizations can stay on top of their financial goals and adjust their plans to account for changing circumstances, such as fluctuations in income, unexpected expenses, and shifts in the market. This proactive approach to financial planning can help individuals and organizations make more informed decisions, avoid costly mistakes, and ultimately achieve greater financial success.

Furthermore, continuous financial planning enables individuals and organizations to take advantage of technological advancements such as financial software, online investment tools, and digital financial advisors. These resources can provide real-time insights into an individual’s financial situation, allowing for quick and informed decision-making.

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