RESEARCH FROM ROBERT HALF, FEI EXAMINES TRENDS, REVEALS STANDARDS IN FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING

Increasing Compliance Burden, Long Work Weeks and Manual Accounts Reconciliation the Norm, Report Shows

/ PRNewswire / — A majority of U.S. (74 percent) and Canadian (67 percent) finance and accounting executives surveyed recently said they expect their companies’ compliance burden to rise in the coming years, and 48 percent and 41 percent of U.S. and Canadian executives, respectively, also anticipate the cost of compliance will increase. These are just two of the findings from the fifth edition of Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2014, an annual study from Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), the research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI).
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Also among the report’s key findings:

  • Nearly all respondents (99 percent in the United States and 96 percent in Canada) project the cost of compliance to either rise or remain steady, with 48 percent and 41 percent, respectively, expecting it to increase.
  • U.S.-based accounting and finance managers work an average of 47 hours per week, while staff-level professionals work 42 hours. In Canada, managers average 46 hours weekly, and staff-level employees work 40 hours.
  • A strain continues to be placed on staff and resources with more than half (59 percent) of U.S. and two-thirds (66 percent) of Canadian companies still reconciling accounts manually.
  • The average percentage of temporary or project staff in U.S. finance and accounting departments is 8 percent, compared to 5 percent in Canada.
  • Payroll (cited by 47 percent of respondents in both the United States and Canada) and tax (42 percent and 37 percent, respectively) are the two most outsourced functions.

“This North American research has been providing valuable data for five years now and it allows us to track and assess changes in the profession,” said Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director. “What’s striking is the continuing high percentage of companies that rely on manual reconciliation of accounts -- some with thousands of general ledger accounts. There is a significant opportunity for these firms to streamline the close and use their resources more efficiently.”

“Having access to benchmarking data allows businesses to measure their staff ratios and other activities against those of similar-sized firms and establish best practices for their organizations,” said Marie N. Hollein, FEI president and CEO. “Financial leaders can use the insights in this report as a starting point for achieving optimal performance across their accounting and finance departments.”

About Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function: 2014
The report provides benchmarking data based on input from nearly 1,600 executives from finance and accounting departments at public and private companies in the United States and Canada. Executives were asked questions related to six key operational categories: workforce management, accounting operations, financial systems, sourcing, internal controls and compliance. The results are designed to provide a framework for developing best practices and improving operational efficiencies.

Robert Half and FEI will host a May 20 webinar, 10 a.m. PDT/1 p.m. EDT, to discuss the report findings. The presenters include McDonald and Thomas Thompson, Jr., FERF senior associate, research. The panelists will discuss major trends, steps for today’s finance leaders and key takeaways from the report.

Register or learn more about the webinar. The complimentary session qualifies for one unit of continuing professional education (CPE) credit.

About Financial Executives International (FEI)
Founded in 1931, Morristown, N.J.-based FEI is the leading advocate for the views of corporate financial management. For more information, visit financialexecutives.org.

About Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF)
Established in 1944, Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) is the non-profit research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI). FERF’s mission is to provide knowledge and insight that enable informed decision-making by senior-level financial executives and their organizations through its unbiased research. FERF proudly celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

About Robert Half
Founded in 1948, Menlo Park, Calif.-based Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, is a recognized leader in professional consulting and staffing services. Find more information at roberthalf.com.

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