Managing the finance function in today's environment requires foresight and vision: You need to think several moves ahead and understand the strengths—and the vulnerabilities—of your position.
You must be able to analyze the economic landscape and identify key opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. That’s where Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) and Robert Half’s 5th annual benchmarking report, Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2014, comes in. The report is a must-read, giving finance executives the edge they need.
To compete at the highest levels, it is critical to have an overview of the terrain, making benchmarks and standards critical in assessing the performance of financial organizations. Benchmarks enable you to gauge whether the close is timely, allow you to judge whether your processes are friction-free, and make it possible for you to determine whether you have sufficient staff to meet goals. And benchmarks can be a guide to best practices. This report aims to fit the bill in all these areas—to offer a point of reference for professionals working in accounting and finance.
This year’s survey included responses from more than 1,600 financial executives representing companies across America and Canada, spanning a full range of industries and sectors. The firms range in size from multibillion dollar public companies to private ones with revenue less than $25 million, from companies operating in a single state to ones whose products reach every corner of the globe.
Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2014 offers practitioners a bird’s-eye view of financial operations. It is divided into sections representing key operational categories including workforce management; accounting operations; financial systems; sourcing; internal controls; and compliance. Respondents considered part of the “finance function” included professionals in general accounting, accounts payable (A/P), accounts receivable (A/R), budget and analysis, cost accounting, credit and collections, finance, financial reporting, international accounting, payroll, internal controls, tax and treasury.
Key Findings and Analysis
Among some of the key findings of the report are:
- Ten percent of finance and accounting staff members in the U.S. (in the median) are temporary, interim or contract workers, while among Canadian companies, 5 percent of finance and accounting staff are temporary, interim or contract workers, according to those companies participating in the survey.
- The standard weekly hours worked by accounting and finance management in the U.S. was 47 hours, while non-management staff worked 42 hours; in Canada, management typically worked 46 hours weekly, while non-management staff at Canadian companies worked 40 hours on average—underscoring the demanding nature of the finance function.
- More than half (59 percent) of U.S. companies, and two-thirds (66 percent) of Canadian companies surveyed still reconcile accounts manually, placing a strain on staff and resources.
- Payroll is the single most outsourced function among all companies, followed by tax, according to executives who participated in the survey. This reflects the effort by finance to reallocate resources away from manual and time-consuming activities and toward value-adding activities.
- Some 98 percent of U.S. executives and 96 percent Canadian executives surveyed think their compliance burden will either increase or, at a minimum, not diminish over time.
How to Use this Report
Benchmarking the Finance Function: 2014 is divided into sections representing key functional categories: workforce management; accounting operations; financial systems; sourcing; internal controls; and compliance. Within each category, you will find:
- Discussion and analysis of the survey results, along with charts and tables
- Cases in Point—real examples taken from interviews with executives
- Takeaways—insights from executives
Questions to Consider•