UK Finance Departments Suspect their Reports Unused

A UK survey from analysis and research firm Source for Consulting suggests that 46% of finance professionals believe that they produce reports that are never used and 63% believe that senior managers should make more use of financial information.

This figures result from research by Source, in partnership with the Commercial Division of Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced). Source surveyed 104 decision makers and finance professionals in UK mid-sized companies and carried out qualitative research with UK managers and management consultants.

According to the research report, entitled ‘Making the Numbers Add Up: How Better Financial Accounting can Support and Promote Growth’, the belief among finance professionals that reports are under-utilised is not misplaced as 48% of the managers and directors surveyed confessed to reviewing a report produced by someone else no more than once a week. Twenty two per cent of these managers and directors admit to using reports only occasionally, with 7% stating that reports are never used.

Simon Fowler, managing director of Advanced’s commercial division, says: “It is clear that not all the reports produced by finance departments in mid-sized organisations are being used like they should be. This is bound to create frustration amongst the finance teams with the production of reports being viewed as wasted time and effort.

The managers and directors surveyed provided a number of reasons for failing to use reports produced by someone else on a regular basis. Thirty one per cent feel that the data in the reports they receive is out of date with 27% stating that the data is inaccurate. 26% feeling that it takes too long for the finance department to produce a report when asked and 23% admitting to receiving too many reports so that they are unclear as to what to focus on.

“With nearly a third of the managers and directors surveyed confessing to lacking confidence in the timeliness of the data in the reports and a similar figure feeling that the data is inaccurate, systems and processes need to be put in place to ensure that real-time and accurate financial reports are produced,” says Fowler. “This will provide managers and directors with greater confidence in the figures.”

Rachel Ainsworth, Source’s senior research manager, adds: “Reports are vital for critical decision making; however they are useless if their value isn’t recognised and the figures are not trusted. Financial education and cultural changes, in addition to reliable and robust software systems and processes are therefore required to ensure that business decisions are based on solid, timely and trustworthy information and analysis.

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