Finance pros plan to spend heavily on tech this year

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Finance professionals are focusing on product development, business model changes, systems, and staffing in 2020, according to a new survey.

The survey, by billing system provider BillingPlatform, polled 300 finance vice presidents or directors at U.S. companies, and found that 60 percent of them plan to launch new products and services to increase their market, while 35 percent intend to leverage recurring or consumption-based billing to offer more attractive pricing on new products and services. But to accomplish this, 23 percent said they will need to overcome system constraints, 22 percent will have to deal with system consolidation, and 18 percent with transitioning their IT infrastructure to accomplish those goals.

“The findings of our study are consistent with what our customers are telling us,” said BillingPlatform CEO Dennis Wall in a statement. “The finance function is a major contributor in generating new sources of revenue. Often these revenue sources come through new products and technology, but finance professionals know that new business models can contribute as well.”

Only 45 percent of the respondents believe their current team’s skills are in great shape, while 55 percent admitted they were anywhere from OK to bad shape. Hiring workers with technical experience is a priority, with 26 percent of respondents indicating that support for digital capabilities and advanced analytics are the most important job skills for new finance team hires.

Even though it’s nearly 20 years old, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is still a major focus for finance professionals. Nineteen percent of the survey respondents said Sarbanes-Oxley has been the most challenging regulatory change they’ve faced over the past three years, and 35 percent said it was challenging to their departments because they had underestimated its impact. The Basel II and III regulatory framework for banks was the second most challenging, cited by 13 percent of survey respondents.

Thirty-nine percent of the respondents said cybersecurity is among their top concerns or risks. Only 33 percent of finance professionals believe their companies are in great shape to cope with cybersecurity issues. Staff education about potential scams is a focus for 37 percent of the respondents, while 30 percent said they would talk to the CEO and other leadership about the potential financial impact of cybersecurity issues.

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