Accenture has identified characteristics that set leading corporate finance organizations, or finance “masters,” apart from average or lower-performing corporate finance organizations.


These finance masters, as Accenture refers to them, deliver value to corporations with a laser focus on strategy, aligning their organization, capability development and selection of departmental initiatives with overall corporate business objectives. Masters earned their designation by reporting that they possessed advanced capabilities in a combination of five specific areas: finance function management, enterprise performance management, finance and accounting operations, enterprise risk management and corporate finance.


Their research found that finance masters take a markedly different approach than non-masters to the way they perform their function. For instance, finance masters were more than 50 percent more likely than non-masters to report that they accurately measure the annual cost of finance and its related cost drivers (63 percent versus 37 percent).


Furthermore, masters were more than twice as likely as non-masters to have implemented advanced, integrated risk management processes and technologies (42 percent versus 20 percent). They also were nearly twice as likely as non-masters to have implemented advanced enterprise performance management capabilities, such as predictive or advanced analytic tools or executive dashboards that help them monitor corporate performance against management metrics (31 percent versus 17 percent).


Masters also reported spending more time on strategic matters and less time on operational details than non-masters did. For example, masters said they spent 20 percent of their time planning and developing enterprise strategy, while non-masters said they spent 15 percent of their time on strategy. Conversely, non-masters said they spent about 47 percent of their time managing finance and accounting operations, on average, while masters said they allocated an about 25 percent of their time to those activities.


Globalization is adding to the complexities and challenges facing finance executives. More than half (58 percent) of respondents said the greatest challenge they will encounter as their companies enter emerging markets will involve building and sustaining the governance levels and internal controls that will enable them to comply with additional regulatory, tax and compliance demands and to account for revenues in different currencies. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said that to meet such challenges and position their finance organizations for success, they will need a standardized operating environment across geographies and business units.


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