2018 Finance Trends Survey: Data and Analytics

Security and privacy of data in finance applications is the highest priority

MENLO PARK, CA – Sept. 20, 2018 – According to the 2018 Finance Trends Survey Report released today by global consulting firm Protiviti, CFOs and finance executives view data management (security, privacy and governance) and predictive data analytics to be among their most significant issues to address. Survey respondents rated different areas in the finance function to reflect their priorities to improve their knowledge and capabilities over the next 12 months.

Security and privacy of data in finance applications is a high priority for 71 percent of all respondents and 75 percent of CFOs/finance vice presidents, specifically. This comes as no surprise given the volume, complexity and sensitivity of data that finance groups must manage and keep secure. These security challenges are compounded as more finance data warehouses move to the cloud, which introduces a broad range of new security risks.

“Another key area that CFOs and finance leaders are struggling to manage is data quality. The analysis and reporting that finance delivers to the organization rests on the quality and completeness of the available data, making data governance critical,” said Christopher Wright, a Protiviti regional managing director and leader of the firm’s Business Performance Improvement practice. “If a master data management system were to be implemented, CFOs and their management would have a much clearer understanding of different organizational functions and areas of profitability and risk. Also, as the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning grows in the months and years ahead, data quality will become even more paramount to business transformation initiatives.”

“Following the top-rated areas of data and analytics and process improvement, the next most highly rated priority is the changing demands and expectations of finance’s internal customers,” said Shawn Seasongood, a Protiviti managing director in the Financial Performance Management practice. “More and more departments throughout companies are seeking access to real-time data and predictive analysis about the performance and profitability of products and services. The finance group is a critical source of this information — being able to deliver this information reliably further enhances the internal customer experience, increases the value proposition of finance groups and helps lead to the organization’s long-term growth.”

Regarding the new lease accounting standard, there are some expected differences in the findings between public and private organizations. More than one in five public companies — 22 percent — are making adjustments in the finance organization based on the impact of the new standard, compared to 11 percent of private organizations. This concentration may change as private companies draw closer to their adoption deadline.

Interestingly, virtual and crypto currencies are not even on the radar of responding organizations. More than eight out of 10 are not using, interested in using, or investing in virtual and crypto currencies, nor are they being pressured by employees, customers, suppliers or partners to use virtual currencies.

The Protiviti study, titled “The Shifting Landscape of Finance,” shares survey data gathered in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2018 from close to 400 (n = 393) CFOs, vice presidents of finance, finance directors, controllers and other finance professionals at both publicly and privately held companies (79 percent) in an array of industries. The remaining 21 percent of responding organizations are in the non-profit, government and education sectors. Fifty-seven percent of companies represented in the survey have revenues of $1 billion or more.

Survey Resources and Webinar

The Finance Trends Survey Report, an infographic, a short video and a podcast about key findings are available for complimentary download at www.protiviti.com/financetrends.

On October 23 at 10:00 a.m. PDT, Protiviti will host a complimentary webinar to discuss key takeaways from the survey. Joining Wright and Seasongood on the webinar will be Ken Thomas, a Protiviti managing director in the firm’s Business Performance Improvement practice. Please register for the 60-minute webinar here.

About Protiviti

Protiviti (www.protiviti.com) is a global consulting firm that delivers deep expertise, objective insights, a tailored approach and unparalleled collaboration to help leaders confidently face the future. Protiviti and its independent and locally owned Member Firms provide clients with consulting and managed solutions in finance, technology, operations, data, digital, legal, governance, risk and internal audit through its network of more than 85 offices in over 25 countries.


Named to the 2022 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list, Protiviti has served more than 80 percent of Fortune 100 and nearly 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies. The firm also works with smaller, growing companies, including those looking to go public, as well as with government agencies. Protiviti is a wholly owned subsidiary of Robert Half (NYSE: RHI). Founded in 1948, Robert Half is a member of the S&P 500 index.