ACCA - The global body for professional accountants
What is clear from the report is that transforming the finance function is a key priority for today’s CFO and they have very high aspirations as to what shared services and outsourcing can deliver – however, while it’s recognised that shared services and outsourcing has helped reduced cost and drive standardisation and process improvement, the survey suggests CFOs continue to want much more.
—Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector, ACCA

Report hears from finance leaders on sourcing success in the finance function

Transforming the finance function is a key priority for today’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), finds new research by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), but many benefits of shared services and outsourcing remain untapped.

This global ACCA study of CFOs and finance leaders presents findings using data powered by HfS Research. It looks at the adoption of finance shared services and outsourcing models around the world, from the US, Europe and Asia, gauging the views of major global employers such as Ernst & Young, KPMG, General Electric, Sony and Standard Chartered Bank among others.

The survey also provides an insight into the aspirations and expectations of CFOs and other finance leaders in transforming the finance function through shared services and outsourcing. 

Among its 10 key findings, the report suggests that the effectiveness of shared services and outsourcing is not fully being realised. Another finding also shows that there is much more scope for the adoption of shared services and outsourcing globally, particularly with ‘high value’ finance activities. 

Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector at ACCA says: 'This is the first time that a survey like this has talked to CFOs themselves, so it shares views from the ultimate finance customer of shared services. The report explores the initial drivers behind adopting finance shared services and outsourcing finance operations – and considers how these are growing, changing and the success of current approaches. What is clear from the report is that transforming the finance function is a key priority for today’s CFO and they have very high aspirations as to what shared services and outsourcing can deliver – however, while it’s recognised that shared services and outsourcing has helped reduced cost and drive standardisation and process improvement, the survey suggests CFOs continue to want much more. The other key issue identified is how success is measured….the survey suggests success measurements still remain focused on cost reduction and service level agreements.'

Expert views are also offered in the report from James Meader, partner at Ernst & Young’s Advisory Services Practices and from Claudio Altini, director, sourcing advisory from KPMG in the UK. Both assert that cost reduction, efficiency and capability improvement are the main outcomes targeted by shared services, but recognise that businesses are now looking to gain more value from their shared services operations. 

The report’s 10 key findings from the CFO survey reveal:

  1. There is much more opportunity for the adoption of shared services and outsourcing globally
  2. There is more scope to adopt transactional finance processes 
  3. Higher value finance activities remain untapped
  4. A broad stream of benefits are expected, with efficiency, cost and capability starting out as major drivers of change
  5. Broader business goals take on more importance over time with a shift in prioritisation
  6. Effectiveness of shared services and outsourcing can be improved more widely across the board
  7. Operational challenges in implementation are being met, but minor concerns remain
  8. Measurement tools used are the usual suspects…
  9. … as are the measures of success
  10. Those CFOs who have taken the leap into shared services and outsourcing are more likely to keep investing.
  • The 'Finance leaders on sourcing success' report can be found in the 'Related Links' section to the left of this article.