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Firms suffer from 'ad hoc' financial reporting system investments

Spreadsheets and emails still widely used for daily reporting

Inefficient financial reporting is leading to a loss of confidence, high costs and hindered decision-making at large firms, according to research from business consultancy Accenture.

The research shows the majority of companies worldwide have made "substantial" investments in financial reporting systems intended to improve their reporting and filing processes. However, the investments have been made ad hoc, "leaving businesses with ineffective solutions and a lack of visibility, quality and confidence in their financial data", said Accenture.

The "Challenges of Corporate Financial Reporting" report highlights that businesses are unable to fully understand the cost of their financial reporting, with 60 percent of finance professionals unable to identify the total cost.

The report suggests that businesses need to change their investment strategies in order to avoid increased costs, ineffective financial reporting and missed key internal and external deadlines.

The report, jointly published by Oracle, surveyed 1,123 finance professionals at large organisations (employing over 250) in 12 countries, including the UK, USA, France, Germany, Russia and Spain.

The research shows 82 percent of companies have made changes over the last three years to their filing and reporting processes. But despite these investments inefficient spreadsheets (72 percent) and emails (68 percent) are still being used to track and manage reporting on a daily basis, suggesting that new investments are falling short of expectations.

Despite a fifth (21 percent) of finance teams seeing their costs rise across the financial close, reporting and filing processes, 60 percent of respondents admitted they did not know the total cost of managing and publicising financial results.

In addition, 68 percent of respondents admitted they have inadequate visibility of reporting processes, while 84 percent said "they find it difficult" to control the quality of financial data across the course of their reporting.

Not surprisingly, almost three-quarters (71 percent) felt their effectiveness was "limited in some way" by data analysis-related issues.

However, businesses are continuing to take steps to improve financial reporting methods, with 86 percent of companies "likely to make a significant investment" over the next five years.

Scott Brennan, executive director of the Accenture finance and enterprise performance consulting group, said: "These results mirror what we see and experience, and they're illustrative of why companies increasingly find it necessary in today's age of volatility to invest in their performance management."

In other recent Accenture research it was shown that the majority of UK citizens access government services digitally, but that a third are concerned about their personal data as a result.


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