Internal controls, the new lease accounting standard and cybersecurity are just some of the issues keeping financial executives up at night, according to a new survey by KPMG.
The Big Four firm surveyed more than 500 finance execs at the end of November at KPMG’s 27th Annual Accounting and Financial Reporting Symposium. When asked what kept them up at night, internal controls over financial reporting topped the list at 30 percent, compared to 21 percent in 2016. Next in line was cybersecurity at 22 percent, compared to 13 percent in 2016.
“The focus on internal controls is especially important to ensure that reported financial information has the appropriate checks to ensure reliability and accuracy,” said John Ebner, KPMG’s national managing partner of audit, in a statement. “It should be central to all financial reporting efforts.
He pointed out that 97 percent of financial executives said they were either somewhat or very concerned about cybersecurity.
The survey also found that two-thirds of financial reporting executives said they have begun the process to adopt the new lease accounting standard. However, 34 percent said they have not yet begun, while 19 percent are assessing the accounting impacts, 18 percent said they have completed a lease inventory, 13 percent said their implementation is in progress, 9 percent are selecting a software vendor, 5 percent are in the systems requirements development stage, and 1 percent said they have completed implementation of the new standard.
“The new lease accounting standard is the next big change in financial reporting, bringing operating leases on to the balance sheet to improve transparency and comparability,” said Ebner. “Companies must review, analyze and record every contract that is or may contain a lease, and leading companies will establish a centralized repository in order to improve tracking.”
The new lease accounting standard can present a number of technology challenges. “When you think about the core challenge that big global companies face, for the first time they have to find a way to get the exchange information about their lease portfolio from the distributed, decentralized stakeholders on a monthly basis,” said Michael Keeler, CEO of the technology company LeaseAccelerator. “The day 1 challenge is you’ve got to find all the data and you’ve got to put it in all the systems so you’ve got compliance. The day 2 challenge is really about staying compliant.”
The survey also found 63 percent of the executives surveyed said their organizations invested in technology to enhance financial reporting, while 36 percent indicated they are struggling to keep pace with the rate of technological innovation in their sectors.
Financial executives are also adjusting to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s new audit reporting standard, which includes a requirement for a discussion of critical audit matters, or CAMs. The survey found that 33 percent of the finance execs believe including CAMs in the auditor’s report would offer new insights into their company.
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