KPMG’s Future of Finance survey included responses from senior professionals both in executive management and in the Finance function. Comparing the responses of these two groups provides valuable insights on the degree of alignment between Finance priorities and overall business strategy. While the priorities of Finance staff and executive management broadly reflect one another, they differ in several important areas. Most significantly, Finance remains more focused on traditional operational and cost-focused initiatives, and less focused on the use of advanced technologies, than executive management.
While both groups are equally focused on investing in data and analytics, executive management places a higher priority than Finance on investing in automation technologies, both to drive better insights and analysis and to reduce costs. And, when optimizing service models, executive management prioritizes agility, while Finance stresses cost reduction.
Needless to say, if Finance wishes to move beyond its historical core role as a control and transaction-processing function, leading rather than following in these areas is imperative.
Comparing the priorities of Finance and executive management at high-performing companies shows that Finance acting as a leader on the organization’s most forward-looking initiatives pays immense dividends. At high-performing organizations, the relative priorities of Finance and executive management look very different than those at others. Finance, in fact, is actually less focused on cost reduction than executive management, and more focused on improving planning and forecasting accuracy, investing in data and analytics, and using automation to drive better insights. At these organizations, Finance has largely mastered “the basics” and instead places its emphasis on areas that best allow it to become an enabler of better business decisions across the organization.
Footnote: High-performing organizations are defined as ranking in the top 16 percent on a combined measure of revenue and profitability growth