Data Breaches Are Dark Clouds for Finance Leaders


Data breaches are costly, damaging to brands and reputations, and a staggering threat to cybersecurity. On average, the total cost to companies that experienced data breaches in 2014 was $5.4 million, according to the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: United States report. That’s up 11 percent, a double-digit increase, from the year before. 

Financial executives interviewed for the Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2015 report from Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation expressed concerns about cybersecurity and recent high-profile data breaches. 

“If anything were to hold us back from moving toward cloud technology,” one noted, “privacy and security would probably be at the top of the list — particularly concerns about customer information and reputational risk.”

The sixth-annual benchmarking report continues to give senior-level financial executives a major strategic advantage. Through benchmarking against their peers, the report helps financial executives gauge how their company’s financial management and operations compare with those of other organizations. This year’s survey included responses from nearly 1,400 American and Canadian financial executives representing public and private companies of all sizes, industries and sectors.  

The report found that more than half of U.S. respondents (51 percent) are using cloud-based financial solutions or plan to in the future, while almost half (46 percent) of Canadian companies are using or plan to use cloud-based solutions. Although they are being used more widely for many aspects of business, a number of financial executives interviewed for this year’s report said they aren’t ready to transition fully to cloud solutions, citing concerns about security, service availability and cost.

As one financial executive said, “I’m not 100 percent comfortable with having my company’s information up in the cloud just yet.”

In addition to financial systems, the report’s findings focus on other key functional areas, such as workforce management, accounting operations, sourcing, and internal controls and compliance.

With the data and insights presented in this report, we hope financial executives will gain an understanding of what other organizations of their size are thinking and doing, so that they have the information they need to make adjustments as necessary.

Are you concerned about data breaches or dealt with cybersecurity? Share your experiences in the comments section.

See how your company compares to its peer group by downloading Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2015

Tom ThompsonThomas Thompson Jr. is a senior research associate at Financial Executives Research Foundation Inc. and the author of more than 50 published research reports and white papers. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Montclair State University. Prior to joining FERF, Thompson held positions in business operations and client relations at NCG Energy Solutions, AXA-Equitable and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Tom can be reached at