A new report from Institute of Management Accountants and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants stresses the importance of strong partnerships between the finance department and other business departments to deliver data insights for better decision support.

According to the IMA and ACCA report, “Financial Insight: Challenges and Opportunities,” enterprises will be able drive greater innovation and create competitive advantage in the future through enterprise data insights, creating an opportunity for the finance function to drive growth and increase its influence.

To improve business partnering practices, the report recommends that CFO organizations should provide a sustainable mandate for partnering practices between finance and other business departments, and they should fix and rework the quality of the data insights that are provided to the enterprise. It also suggests that companies should deploy the right finance talent with the right mindset to deliver on that promise.

The report draws on survey data from finance leadership roundtables in New York, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Singapore, and Hong Kong, along with interviews with more than 750 senior finance executives.

“The concept of business partnering is not new,” said IMA vice president of research and policy Raef Lawson. “The finance function has always had a role in providing information vital for good decision making. Technology and other advancements are fuelling the potential for business partnering, challenging finance teams to keep pace and maintain internal influence.”

Rapidly changing business environments and increasingly complex digital environments are listed among the main challenges that CFOs and their finance functions face in delivering effective financial insight. However, finance organization that adopt a business-centric approach and emphasize the importance of good finance-business partnering practices can not only meet those challenges but capitalize on them by extending their influence and leadership across the enterprise, according to the report.

“We see business partnering as one of the critical ongoing challenges for the CFO organisation to get right,” said Jamie Lyon, who heads the corporate sector at ACCA. “With the wealth of data and information available to enterprises, there is a big opportunity for the finance function to drive future growth, but it’s an opportunity that has to be taken.”

The report predicts that the growing digitization of businesses and a highly competitive enterprise landscape will have a profound effect on the future of CFO organizations because in a fast-moving, data-rich business environment, enterprise data insights will be increasingly important in creating advantage and corporate value.

To read the report, click here.

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