The 2016 Priorities from CFOs Around the World: Focus on Financial Close, Information Sharing and More

Don Mal

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As we get closer to the year-end, CFOs and their teams are probably reaching a point where it seems nearly impossible to fit everything in before Jan. 1. Looking out over the next 12 months, on the other hand, the possibilities for being more strategic and effective feel almost limitless. 


CFO-PrioritiesThis is reflected in The 2016 Finance Priorities Survey, an annual research report produced by financial consulting firm Protiviti, based on responses from more than 600 CFOs and senior-level executives. The 30-page document touches on a range of important issues, from variance analysis and activity-based costing to budgeting and margin management.


What’s great about the numbers is that they confirm what we’ve often discussed on this blog and show how many financial executives are increasingly focused on a core group of critical areas. These include strategic planning, budgeting and profitability analysis, all of which were ranked at 7.0 or higher in terms of importance among the sample group.


What to Watch for Next Year


From a process perspective, period-end close processes and working capital management activities really stood out, and were flagged by the researchers as among the biggest trends to watch in 2016:


The demand for speed and accuracy in financial consolidation and working capital management activities almost assuredly will intensify. As these expectations grow without comparable increases in staffing, finance functions should consider acquiring and implementing finance governance technology that can reduce errors, accelerate consolidation and closing activities, and improve access to documentation amid growing regulatory and competitive pressures.


CPM using Excel is an obvious tie-in here, of course. What’s also worth noting is the degree to which CFOs are not only trying to make better use of data, but to share it more widely. A story on Business Insider about the Protiviti data drew attention to the way other areas of the business are being armed with real-time performance information to make better decisions and to collaborate more effectively.


“CFOs are reaching out to operational units to achieve company directives,” BI said.


Even as you and your team race to finish everything that needs to be done before the end of 2015, take a moment to consider this report and its implications:


  • How well do the topline pressures and opportunities of your peers resonate with what you’re experiencing in your own firm or sector?
  • Are there gaps or oversights revealed here that should concern you?
  • Are there things not covered that are unique to your business, and if so, where should they sit in terms of criticality?


In other words, use the data presented here to develop some 2016 priorities that are uniquely your own, and then execute accordingly.


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