Global Finance Trends 2022 – A UK Perspective
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and their colleagues are operating in one of the most complex business environments they have ever experienced. According to our 2022 Finance Trends Survey, multiple challenges are occurring together, creating a long list of priorities for finance teams to tackle.
For finance leaders in the UK, the security and privacy of data (81%) remains the most important issue, followed by enhanced data analytics (76%), financial planning and analysis (76%), cloud-based applications (72%) and strategic planning (72%).
“UK businesses are operating in a challenging environment,” says Varun Dewan, Director at Protiviti. “On one hand they are faced with keeping operations profitable during a time when UK inflation jumped to a 40-year high; on the other, they are dealing with the long-term importance of environmental, social and governance issues (ESG), for example.”
“With several competing challenges continuing into next year and early 2024, finance leaders need to take a longer-term view in their planning and decision making.”
Top overall priorities (UK)
Security and privacy of data
Enhanced data analytics
Financial planning and analysis
Impact of inflation
Changing demands and expectations of internal customers
Leadership (within your organisation)
Profitability reporting and analysis
In 100 seconds... how finance leaders can approach security and privacy of data
In 100 seconds... 3 ways CFOs can lead through inflationary times
Security and privacy of data
Security and privacy of data remains the top priority for UK finance leaders, but the survey results indicate a downward trend (when compared to 2021) that suggests more organisations may believe they have this critical issue under better control. To further support their efforts, finance leaders should continue to collaborate with the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and data privacy leaders by clearly connecting their activities to business objectives. These collaborations yield improvements to how the organisation responds to ransomware attacks, changing regulatory requirements, third party data security and privacy risks.
As new cyber attack modes and targets continue to emerge – and data-protection budgets come under scrutiny amid rising inflation – CFOs should continue to augment and fine-tune their cybersecurity activities.
The impact of inflation, new for this year’s survey, is a top priority for 71% of respondents in the UK. Rising prices have been headline news for a while, and businesses have certainly taken steps to mitigate their effects. But volatility in the energy markets suggests that inflation will remain important in the planning of projects and profit forecasts for at least the next 18 months. The intertwined challenges of rising prices and interest rates present an opportunity for CFOs to elevate their scenario planning activities for 2023 and well into 2024.
For some sectors, ESG has taken a short-term hit to progress because of the current energy crisis, and demand for alternative fossil fuel supply away from Russian gas. Under pressure from rising prices and a lack of regulation, this could create a group of businesses that see ESG as a discretionary spend in the short term. But companies leading the way are clear on the long-term benefit: according to the survey, it remains a top ten priority for CFOs globally in the next 12 months. Finance leaders need to assess their existing ESG reporting capability and skills against ESG objectives, and then identify where the partners in their ecosystem can be complementary and fill in the gaps.
The use of flexible labour models is on the rise. Amid the ongoing war for talent – driven by a shortage of people in the market – more finance teams are working with managed service providers and augmenting current staff. Statutory financial reporting, accounts payable / receivable, remediation and support, strategic finance and project management activities are areas in demand across the world; in some cases, up ten per cent on 2021.
Protiviti’s 2022 Finance Trends Survey alludes to a growing trend: the financial health of a business cannot be seen in isolation from the rest of the business, and the risks and challenges it faces. ESG, risk planning, inflation, and skills are all linked together in the stability of operations and the myriad priorities for CFOs and their colleagues.
Technology is replacing some jobs in finance; specialist skills are needed to tackle ESG effectively; and the immediate concerns of inflation and profitability call on the best leadership skills that CFOs possess. There are many competing factors which CFOs and finance leaders need to prepare and plan for over the next 18 to 24 months.
In the future, the trends suggest that finance teams will be populated by specialists, complemented by hard-to-find skills, and advisers who can draw on industry experience to help CFOs navigate this complex path. One thing is certain, the role of the CFO continues to evolve.