If You Want to Beat ‘Em, Benchmark Against ‘Em

If imitation is the highest form of flattery; it’s no wonder Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation’s (FERF) annual benchmarking report has continued to grow in popularity.

The 5th annual report, Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2014, is a must-read, giving senior-level financial executives a point of reference to compete at the highest levels. Through benchmarking against their peers, the report helps financial executives gauge how their company’s financial management and operations compare against those of other organizations.

This year’s survey included responses from more than 1,600 financial executives representing public and private companies both large and small, across America and Canada, spanning a full range of industries and sectors.

The report found that Payroll (47% in both the U.S. and Canada) and Tax (42% in the U.S. and 37% in Canada) were the two most outsourced functions within finance departments.

Taken on their own, those facts are not particularly earth-shattering. However, when considered in conjunction with another report finding; more than half (59%) of U.S. companies and two-thirds (66%) of Canadian companies still reconcile their accounts manually, it does create some interesting questions.



If companies are outsourcing to allocate staffing resources toward more value-adding, strategic activities; why are so many companies still reconciling their accounts manually? Shouldn’t companies consider third-party software or internally developed software as an option for improving their underlying processes?

As Paul Smejkal, Director of Finance with Minco Products pointed out in our interview with him, “In the past two or three years, we have invested heavily in a new enterprise resource planning system, as well as web- and cloud-based technology, and it has pushed us forward with a velocity we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Not only do improvements in technology and processes allow for more high-value activities but they also create a quicker, cleaner financial close that is essential for any accounting and finance department.

And those are only a few of the interesting findings from our report. From the data and insights contained in this report, we hope executives will gain the key points about what organizations of their size are thinking and doing, so that they have the information they need to make adjustments as necessary.

Download Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2014 now and see how your company compares!

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Tom Thompson is senior associate, research, at Financial Executives Research Foundation, the non-profit, research affiliate of Financial Executives International. Tom is the author of more than 40 published research reports and primary blogger of the FERF Research Blog.