Cash management and forecasting are more important than ever for a company’s financial success, but they have also become more difficult to execute.
And the pressure to provide insightful and proactive cash reporting and forecasting is only likely to grow, according to a study of finance and treasury leaders from large companies around the world, conducted by CFO Research and sponsored by SAP.
The study, “Next Generation Needs for Cash Management,” surveyed 371 CFOs, treasurers, and other senior finance and treasury executives at companies with more than $250 million in annual revenues, representing a broad range of company segments. It found that as cash management professionals understand their expanding role, they feel pressured to deliver on their increased responsibilities in the face of growing complexity.
The key findings paint a picture of challenges and opportunities for today’s cash management professional.
Treasury Under Increased Pressure to Drive Additional Business Value
Sixty two percent of respondents say that treasury needs to increase its contribution to high-value activities, and 82 percent believe that management outside of treasury will need a better understanding of a company’s cash positioning and forecasts.
Financial Landscape Becoming More Challenging to Forecast
Cash management and forecasting are more challenging because of increasing business complexity, 83 percent of respondents said. The level of complexity is likely to get worse over the next two years, 76 percent replied, referring to external factors that lead to increasing business complexity, which in turn make it difficult to gain a current and comprehensive view into a company’s cash position and cash requirements.
Forecasting Must Improve in Speed and Quality
To execute in this environment, treasury functions will need to find ways to provide management with information on cash positions and cash forecasts faster and with deeper insight. Four out of five respondents (80%) said finance departments will need to act much faster than they currently do; and nearly nine out of 10 (89%) said improving accuracy, consistency and quality of cash forecast data is a high priority.
So where should treasury start, in order to improve forecast quality despite increasing internal and external forces that adverse impact reporting? Technology is available to take the pressure off the modern cash management professional:
Companies need to have a better picture into their consolidated assets – foreign and domestic, across banks and investments. There can be no way to improve the reporting process without each system working correctly together. Bringing together disparate systems is the first step in obtaining a clearer financial picture and more accurate reporting.
Financial technology has arrived that meets the fast pace of business. As those in finance consume instant analytical technologies in their personal lives, there are tools available that can automate and deliver timely reporting – turning the profession into a proactive driver of business value, rather than a reactive reporting mechanism.
New Levels of Insight
As core business processes are automated, treasury has the resources and information to deliver information that makes it a critical source of business value. But having a clear picture of assets and cashflows, finance has the ability to make strategic investments in tighter windows of time, helping to capitalize on potential investment opportunities and evaluate important future transactions.
Our industry collectively agrees that the pace of business is moving too fast for finance to fall behind. We need to lean on technology to remove the time-consuming and manual processes from our professions, so that we can deliver the strategic value a C-suite expects.
We are entering an age in the finance profession where we have the power to be some of the most important sources of truth in the company. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity and meet the challenge head on.
Thack Brown is general manager and global head of Line of Business Finance at SAP.
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