About the survey
We launched the Deloitte Finance Benchmark survey with the aim of understanding the key opportunities for the finance function as businesses move to take advantage of a shift in the economic cycle. Are finance teams ready to provide the support that growth-focused organisations need? And where should finance leaders focus their efforts to develop capability and improve practices?
Between 1 September and 19 December 2014, 216 organisations completed our survey. They included:
- 29 organisations with turnover over £1bn.
- 97 with turnover between £100m and £1bn.
- 90 with turnover under £100m.
To supplement our online research, we also interviewed 15 senior finance leaders to draw out a more subtle understanding of the issues on their minds. (The quotes highlighted in this report are all from those interviews.)
This report highlights the key opportunities for the finance function as revealed by our survey, and highlights examples of current good practice. Each of our survey participants receives a personalised, detailed benchmarking report which compares them against a tailored peer group and identifies areas for focus. This report offers valuable context alongside these benchmarking reports.
I hope you find the report thought- provoking and welcome your feedback on the findings as well as the implications for the finance function.
Getting back to growth
A bitter recession means many businesses have effectively spent years in hibernation, adopting strategies for survival rather than actively building for the future. But change is in the air. The signs of returning growth are becoming stronger, although some caution remains as deflation and weakness in the euro zone present risks that should be monitored.
Cautious but growing confidence in an economic recovery means that many organisations are moving on from the cost-cutting that has been the hallmark of recent years. To respond, finance functions must be at the top of their game.
Senior finance leaders we spoke to told us that their organisations are now refocusing on the opportunities that come with more favourable economic conditions. The mood is still cautious, but businesses are starting to invest again with the aim of securing sustainable and profitable growth.
Finance has a key role to play in enabling the business to manage growth – in particular, by providing accurate information to support effective decision- making and by helping the business understand its progress on growth goals. But how well equipped is the function to meet these challenges?
Our survey shows there are three key areas finance leaders can focus on to develop effective support for the business:
- Improving and simplifying systems to increase data reliability, the foundation for meaningful management information (our survey shows there are significant opportunities for the finance function to improve data accuracy and reliability).
- Making management information more insightful by freeing up time for analysis and by investing in talent (less than half of our survey respondents say the finance function currently delivers information that the business believes is insightful).
- Ensuring KPIs give a clearer picture of performance, by using the right balance of indicators, and linking these to strategic objectives (our survey shows that six in ten finance functions do not review alignment regularly).
By addressing these priorities, finance leaders can ensure their functions are ready to deliver the data and insight businesses need to support growth. As the economic outlook continues to improve, the finance function can help business leaders understand where to focus investment, monitor the impact of new strategic initiatives and track performance, progress and profits.
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