Gigi Pun

As a Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) Manager at Clarins Hong Kong, Gigi Pun is tasked with understanding the meaning behind the numbers, and then conveying this information to key members of management for them to make strategic decisions that will ultimately shape the business. She tells A Plus is most fulfilling about a career in FP&A and the skills CPAs need to drive change within the commercial sector

What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?

As a FP&A Manager at Clarins, I’m mainly responsible for preparing forecasts and the annual planning of profit and loss (P&L) statements. I’m also in charge of the company’s financial reporting, budgeting, and provide monthly and quarterly analysis on the performance of different areas and operations within the company. At Clarins, we sell our products through our own shops, department store concessions and e-commerce channels. We have a variety of products including skincare and make up products. My role is to monitor how well these products sell through our channels, as well as the profit ratios and the productivity of each channel. I also need to research our brand ranking and how it competes with our competitors. I joined in June 2019, and I’d say the role is going well so far – I feel it has taken on more importance since I joined, as my analyses help our management with their investments and to formulate effective strategies. I also have to provide our stakeholders with financial insight.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?

The most challenging aspect is the need to react quickly to the market and business. I need to provide P&L simulations quickly and accurately in order to help management to make decisions. Another challenge is learning how to be a trusted business partner. As an FP&A Manager, being a business partner is important as we have to work on budgets and simulations with different departments. You also have to learn how to understand the challenges faced by other departments. This is done through listening to feedback. But what’s most rewarding is driving changes. It’s also satisfying to strengthen the company’s internal controls – I was also involved in the implementation of the company’s travel and expenses system.

What inspired you to become an accountant?

I’ve always liked dealing with numbers. This led me to attain my bachelor’s degree in accountancy at university. When I began working, I found out that accounting is more than crunching numbers. It involves analysis, reporting and internal controls – all of which are important aspects to a business or a company. As accountants, we need to give meaning to numbers, as our findings help management to make decisions and formulate strategies. All of this has inspired me to pursue a career in accounting and strive to become a key business partner in the industry.  I began my career in the commercial sector and have stayed since. I started as a financial graduate intern at The Walt Disney Company, then worked at L’Oréal – also in FP&A – before joining Clarins. By working in the commercial sector, you can really understand and witness the speed in which the market changes, especially within the retail industry. You’ll also get really close to customers.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned so far from work experience or managers?

It would be learning how to be a problem solver and critical thinker. Finance professionals work in very fast-changing environments, so we need to be flexible and proactive when faced with different challenges. It’s important for us to identify problems and react quickly. We also have to know how to think outside the box, work well with stakeholders and find the best approach to solving problems. As for critical thinking, we need the ability to analyse information objectively in order to make reasonable judgements and decisions. 

How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?

The QP is very important and a course that has greatly helped me in my career. All modules are useful – they taught me how to review and perform analyses on a company’s performance from different angles. In addition to the technical knowledge gained, I’ve also benefitted from the QP workshops, which provide students with an opportunity to apply technical knowledge. We’re also able to learn from the experiences of our peers and facilitators. I encourage other young members to be passionate about their job – you can really make a change through the accounting profession.

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