Finance Priorities in the COVID Era
What’s the 2020 Finance Trends survey all about?
Major crises expose the true nature of things. In the face of extreme pressure, organisations discover how digital, agile and resilient they really are. CFOs and finance leaders are leveraging hard-earned lessons from the worldwide pandemic to strengthen organisational agility and resilience, according to the results of Protiviti’s 2020 Global Finance Trends Survey.
Key global findings
Data security, analytics and cloud continue to sit atop CFO priority lists.
Leading CFOs have solidified their long-term strategic role as a stakeholder in organisational data security and privacy, while marshaling advanced technologies, data analytics and other finance planning and process improvements to keep pace with changing demands of internal customers.
COVID upended finance operations.
The pandemic’s many effects hindered the preparation of timely financial statements, compelled the reforceasting of finance plans, impeded the ability of many third parties to meet their service level agreements, sparked supply chain upheavals, and spurred CFOs to fundamentally rethink their staffing approaches.
The new finance labour model gets stress-tested in real-time.
Finance leaders who manage a diverse talent pool of full-time employees, contract and temporary workers, expert external consultants, and managed services and outsourcing providers have been able to respond to external disruptions with greater speed and agility — and with fewer compromises to core finance processes. In fact, for financial planning and analysis, 18% of finance organisations rely on managed service providers and 29% leverage staff augmentation to support these activities.
Finance groups have more internal customers who have greater expectations for data and insights.
The finance group’s sustained commitment to digital transformation is in large part driven by the rest of the organisation’s growing hunger for the forward-looking data-driven insights that finance produces.
Download the Finance Trends Survey: Country Perspective - Germany
The general trend and key findings of the global survey are confirmed by respondents in the German market. Like in other markets, enhanced analytics and data security sit atop CFO priority lists. Interestingly, data analytics needs are ranked higher in Germany, whereas data security seems to be better covered compared to that of respondents abroad.
For CFOs and finance leaders, a clear trend in their priorities is focusing on the core competencies and value-adding analytical components while setting the right efficiency levers using technology like robotic process automation (RPA) in daily business. While the German RPA market is somewhat lagging behind the overall global expansion of this technology, we already observed this shift towards use of technology in last year’s study. What is striking this year is the difference in German responses about these priorities compared with the global picture – ranking them among the top five for Germany while flying under the radar in the midfield of global priorities.
Moreover, it appears that there is increased appetite for next-generation and technology-driven topics. Two out of three German respondents report that they are building on technologies and concepts like blockchain/smart contracts, RPA, virtual currencies, mobile applications and process mining. Globally, these themes score an average of 10 percentage points lower across the ranks. We are confident that finance functions of German corporations will further enhance their value contribution and innovative strength based upon emerging technologies.
A major difference between responses in Germany and around the world is the downrating of strategic and financial planning as a key priority. With a score of 59%, financial planning ranks last on the top priority list for German respondents, whereas the global market considers this topic a crucial one, trending 20 percentage points higher. Our take for the German market is that the focus of the last decade on maturing the planning process pays out today, so this topic slips from the priority list for German corporations. Further, we anticipate that flexibility and planning fluidity in volatile and uncertain markets is a muscle well-trained over the last years.
Two-thirds of finance operations in German corporations that rely on offshore BPO or SSC capabilities suffered from COVID lockdowns significantly, whereas other markets were only moderately impacted. In dealing with disruptions from outsourced processes, German corporations reacted and mainly shifted the activities back in-house (64%) or brought in temporary and contract professionals to provide assistance (58%). In other markets, we saw a more passive approach in which German corporations waited for their third-party vendors to resolve the issues or did nothing at all.
Weatherising for current or future pandemics is a key priority for German CFOs and finance VPs – both on the technology and personnel front. Introducing cloud-based applications that support finance are by far the top priority for respondents in the German market in the next 12 months. To promote a flexible workforce, 83% of respondents confirm a change in their personal view on finance leaders and staff working remotely. Further, two-thirds of them expect remote work on a more frequent basis. Going further, outsourcing of non-core activities (73%) goes hand-in-hand with emphasising leadership and staff skills and working effectively with outside parties (69%).
Interactive Global Results
Visit our interactive Finance Trends website to find out more about:
- The impact of COVID-19 on the finance function
- Industry results
- Geographic results
- Takeaways for CFOs
- Takeaways for board members
- Other available resources