CFOs Focus on Cash Flow, Working Capital: Survey

by FEI Daily Staff

Enhancing cash flow and working capital capabilities will remain among the leading priorities for senior financial executives in 2015, according to a survey released today by Protiviti and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF).


Respondents to the the annual Finance Priorities Survey say they are placing a stronger emphasis on financial close management and cash horizon visibility through strategic planning, forecasting, risk management and business intelligence, along with better transparency into overall performance.

The results suggest a focus by CFOs on getting back to finance basics in 2015. Finance executives have also shifted their priorities toward attracting and retaining talent with strong ‘people’ skills, as well as the technical knowledge and analytical expertise to manage an evolving set of regulatory tax law and accounting standard changes.

Financial Transactions

The top priorities in the survey's Process Capabilities for Financial Transactions category demonstrate a continued desire to manage and enhance fundamental financial operations, while also maintaining a focus on revenue-generating activities. Specifically, respondents prioritized the following functions:
  • Period-end close
  • Cash forecasting
  • Account reconciliations
  • Working capital management
  • Accounts receivable
  • “ERP, general ledger and consolidation systems have dramatically reduced human errors and processing delays, but the processes of reconciling and closing a company’s books at local and group levels continue to burden the finance function,” explained Bill Sinnett, FERF's senior director of research.

Financial Analysis

Within the survey’s Process Capabilities for Financial Analysis category, several areas of focus continue to reflect the finance function's commitment to sharing real-time insights on performance, cash positions and profitability.


According to respondents, top priorities to address in the coming year include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Budgeting
  • Periodic forecasting
  • Profitability analysis
  • Risk management
"Amid a changing operating environment, companies are now placing an increased emphasis on the holistic alignment of their strategy, risk management capabilities and performance management processes," said Ryan Senter, a managing director with Protiviti’s Business Performance Improvement practice.


"Rather than applying patchwork fixes to individual processes, finance functions want to manage and improve related processes in a comprehensive manner to ultimately improve overall corporate performance management."

Emerging Issues

When ranking priorities in the Emerging Issues category, financial executives selected issues that pose new risks, challenges and opportunities for finance functions.


These included:

  • Sustainability
  • Changes to U.S. healthcare regulations
  • Revenue recognition (impending new accounting standard)
  • Globalization
  • Workforce mobility
The survey report, along with a short video, are available for complimentary download at