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Accounting & Audit

Finance Execs Favor Technology-Driven Financial Reporting

Some 73 percent of controllers say that a technology-driven financial reporting audit helps them assess comparative company performance in their industry. Additionally, more than one-third of respondents say a technology-driven audit improves speed ...

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Technology improves the quality of financial audits and provides a more comprehensive view of key data, says 69 percent of corporate controllers surveyed by audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP, in association with Forbes Insights.

In addition, 68 percent of those polled agree that improved audit technologies also enhance the quality, transparency and accuracy of compliance and reporting processes, while freeing up staff from tasks that were previously performed manually.

In the report, “The Transformative Controller: Adding Value, Insight, and a Bridge to the Future,” respondents indicate that technology-driven external audits are providing more benefits than ever and transformative controllers are leveraging the audits to improve reporting and compliance, while advancing business objectives.

“Highly effective controllers no longer simply provide a rear-view mirror look at company financial data, but offer a window into the future,” said Scott Marcello, KPMG’s U.S. Vice Chair, Audit. “Controllers understand that technology, such as cognitive computing capabilities, can uncover new insights into their companies’ processes and more innovative ways to do their jobs.”

Some 73 percent of controllers say that a technology-driven financial reporting audit helps them assess comparative company performance in their industry. Additionally, more than one-third of respondents say a technology-driven audit improves speed, helps to flag high-risk areas, improves quality of work, and allows the auditor to perform deeper analysis.

“The focus of the finance function is expanding from simply reporting and compliance to becoming a central resource within their organization, helping to produce better outcomes and stay ahead of the competition,” Marcello said. He noted other benefits cited by the controllers polled included fraud detection and data sharing (32 percent); and the ability to analyze bigger data samples and use more sophisticated technologies for data gathering and analysis (25 percent).

Through their work with external auditors, most controllers note progress on the technology front. Nearly two-thirds noted their engagement with external auditors has improved the quality of their external audits and advanced their own use of new technologies (60 percent).

According to those surveyed, top insights controllers gained from a technology-driven external audit include a more holistic view of the company’s prospects (38 percent), a forward-trending view of risks (38 percent), greater industry knowledge (37 percent), information to help them improve quality assurance and regulatory compliance (36 percent), and help in assessing risks and risk management practices (29 percent).

Despite progress in many organizations, over half of all respondents said that silos still exist between finance and IT, which they said was a major barrier for controllers who want to move beyond their traditional role to provide greater value to their companies. Other leading challenges include a lack of available tech-savvy personnel (41 percent) as they face increasing demands for more data and analysis (38 percent), lack of executive buy-in (36 percent), and budgetary constraints (34 percent).