Margin and earnings performance along with cybersecurity challenges were ranked as the top two risks facing CFOs in 2016, according to a recent survey.
The survey results - released by the Financial Executives Research Foundation and Protiviti - breaks down the major risks and priorities for CFOs and financial executives moving into next year. The survey was conducted in the third quarter of 2015 and polled more than 600 CFOs and financial professionals. Forty percent of respondents were either a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Chartered Accountant (CA). Ninety-five percent of those polled were in the United States and the majority of respondents worked in organizations with less that $100 million in revenue.
Eighty-two percent of CFOs pointed to margins and earning performance as a top risk with significant impact, while 81 percent also named cybersecurity. Following close behind was strategic planning (79%) and periodic forecasting and budgeting at 75 percent.
The findings should not come as a surprise as financial executives continue to seek out new ways to analyze their data in real time, find strategies to protect their organization from data breaches, and keep an eye on cash flow.
Cash forecasting is still a primary priority for CFOs, as is finding more streamlined strategies to manage back-end operations such as the period-end close and related reconciliation and consolidation activities.
There is an even greater emphasis on financial analysis from last year, according to the report. CFOs and financial executives continue to leverage big data to streamline how they manage traditional corporate performance activities. The demand to disseminate real-time information to other leaders in the organization is increasing, to better analyze and communicate critical information such as cash flow and profitability. This information now plays a significant role in business strategies and drive, instead of solely standing as a back office function.
Cyberattacks continue to keep many CFOs up at night, and it’s clearly becoming part of the overall business strategy, not just an IT problem, as a breach of information can quickly become a major issue impacting all areas in a company. From our perspective, eliminating paper and moving away from manual processes that too many hands touch to a streamlined or cloud-based system is one of the first steps to keeping confidential and sensitive information more secure. Here at OnPay Solutions, we work with companies to automate payments in order to achieve maximum efficiency and bring revenue back into accounts payable.
The report also includes trends to watch and action items for CFOs to consider in moving forward. One particular trend to note is the expectation that more CFOs will need to demonstrate leadership beyond their traditional financial function. This means working collaboratively with IT and other organizational leaders instead of taking the more traditional, siloed approach to business solutions. The CFOs we deal with are working hard to continuously implement ongoing strategy developments and are making progress toward improving their cashflow, by enabling electronic payments that create a new revenue stream AND improving security by streamlining processes and protecting their financial data.
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To see the full results of the survey, visit http://www.protiviti.com/en-US/Documents/Surveys/2016-Finance-Priorities-Survey-FERF-Protiviti.pdf.