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Top Priorities For Finance Executives Include Improving Competitive And Business Intelligence, Protiviti Survey Finds

MENLO PARK, Calif., Aug. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Improving business and competitive intelligence capabilities and shared services governance rank among the top priorities for today's finance executives and staff, according to the results of the 2012 Finance Priorities Survey ( www.protiviti.com/FinanceSurvey) conducted by Protiviti, a global consulting firm. The research identifies priorities, capabilities and key areas of focus for today's finance professionals.

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In the financial analysis category of the study, competitive intelligence (e.g., competitors, suppliers, regulatory environment, geopolitical climate, etc.) ranked as the top area of focus, with business intelligence (operations reporting) and executive dashboards tied for the second spot. These three results indicate that finance professionals are being asked to take the lead in strengthening overall intelligence capabilities to equip executive teams with a more holistic and actionable blend of internal and external insights.

"A robust competitive intelligence capability enables companies to scrutinize the external landscape continually for information that decision-makers need to identify new growth opportunities and minimize and/or avoid strategic risks," said James Pajakowski, executive vice president of global risk solutions for Protiviti.

Other areas of focus in the financial transactions category of the study are:
  • Corporate chargeback allocation methodologies
  • Overall shared services governance
  • Performance management/operating metrics

Regarding shared services governance, Ryan Senter, a managing director with Protiviti, said: "Finance departments appear intent on moving their shared services organizations beyond a 'lift and shift' approach to a more mature strategy that expands the scope of business services and increases overall efficiency for organizations."

Among other notable takeaways from the Protiviti study:
  • Strengthening financial risk management is a top concern amid ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty
  • While finance executives and staff are focusing more on strategic activities, complex transactional issues also rate as top priorities, placing increased pressure on finance functions to make traditional, transaction-heavy processes as efficient as possible, thus freeing up more time for financial analysis and business decision-support activities
  • International/transfer pricing regulations is a top priority area for finance departments in large companies (those with $1 billion+ in revenue) after not ranking this high in the 2011 study

The finance executives including CFOs, vice presidents and directors of finance and controllers and other professionals that participated in Protiviti's 2012 Finance Priorities Survey represent virtually all industry sectors. The most represented sectors were financial services and manufacturing. More than 40 percent of survey respondents work for organizations with $1 billion or more in annual revenues. Respondents answered more than 100 questions in three categories: process capabilities (including financial transaction and financial analysis activities); technical capabilities (including competencies related to regulatory compliance); and organizational capabilities (personal skills).

This edition of Protiviti's 2012 Finance Priorities Survey is available for complementary download at www.protiviti.com/FinanceSurvey. Additionally, a podcast discussing highlights from the survey is also available on the Protiviti website at www.protiviti.com/podcasts.

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