CFOs eager to gain cash flow visibility

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Dive Brief:

  • Three out of five financial leaders (62%) expect their financial reporting to come under greater scrutiny during the next year as they brace for the possibility of an economic downturn, according to a study by accounting cloud software provider BlackLine.
  • Having real-time visibility into cash flow is becoming crucial for CFOs and other financial leaders as they try to guide their businesses through a murky business landscape, the study of 737 C-level and 746 finance and accounting (F&A) professionals found. The survey included responses from leaders across seven countries.
  • Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said real-time visibility into cash flow is a “must-have” for their businesses during the coming next year, BlackLine said. Ninety-eight percent said they could be more confident about their current level of visibility.

Dive Insight:

C-suite and F&A leaders globally identified as top challenges retaining talent, tougher regulation and scrutiny, and difficulty in providing fresh, accurate information to their companies to enable quick responses to market changes, according to the survey.

For executives in the finance function, 36% said identifying manual errors during month-end close processes was one of their key challenges. Three out of 10 finance professionals said they lack the automated controls needed to handle their organization’s volume of data.

Nearly half of the survey respondents (49%) are concerned that a lack of visibility into cash flow indicates their business is making decisions with inaccurate or outdated information, while 48% said an incomplete understanding of cash flow complicates efforts to respond to market fluctuations.

Such concerns coincide with growing pessimism among executives and financial leaders about their business outlook, according to the study. Sixty-one percent of C-suite executives predict their confidence in the economy will not return for six months.

Despite stronger-than-expected consumer spending in September, many economists point to the possibility of a recession during the next year as business face challenges such as high inflation and a tight labor market.

The Federal Reserve, aiming to curb the highest inflation in nearly four decades, has pushed up the federal funds rate by 0.75 percentage points in each of its past four meetings.

Ninety-five percent of C-suite and F&A leaders expect that rising interest rates pose a headwind to business operations, the survey found.

Among C-suite executives, CFOs are most likely to believe that they hold sole responsibility for navigating their companies through a downturn, the study found, suggesting that financial leaders may face greater comparative stress if the economy falters.

Although most respondents said the CFO and CEO shoulder the same level of responsibility, 41% of CFOs see themselves as the point person for steering businesses through rough times. Thirty percent of CFOs said the responsibility lies mainly with the CEO, according to the survey.

This article was originally published by CFO Dive and republished with permission.

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