Finance Executives See Continued Earnings Uncertainty, New Triggers - AFP Survey

Risk focus shifts to competitors and customers rather than economy

Jan 22, 2014, 08:22 ET from Association for Financial Professionals

BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite a slowly improving economy, finance executives haven't relaxed when it comes to risk management because a new set of threats is keeping them up at night, according to a report released today by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP).

The 2014 AFP Risk Survey, produced in conjunction with Oliver Wyman, found that U.S. corporations expect earnings uncertainty to continue this year and they are focused on how potential political/regulatory risks (48%) and competition (48%) could potentially destabilize corporate performance.

"As global markets, national economies and industries search for innovative and efficient solutions to fundamental issues and new technologies disrupt the status quo, there is an unprecedented opportunity for companies to create long-term shareholder value," says Alex Wittenberg, a partner at Oliver Wyman and head of the firm's Global Risk Center. "We believe the firms that take a more proactive approach to bringing their risk analysis and financial forecasting capabilities into alignment will be able to realize strategic rewards that will clearly differentiate them from their competitors."


  • Organizations expect uncertainty to continue.
    Among respondents, 84 percent report that their organizations are exposed to the same or more uncertainty today than they were three years ago. 
  • Top risk concerns have shifted.
    Focus is on competitors and customers rather than macro-economic factors:
    • Financial factors such as credit, liquidity, interest rate, currency, and FX risk (26 percent)
    • External factors such as country risk, regulatory risk, natural disaster (25 percent)
    • Business operations, such as supply chain disruptions, production interruptions, litigation, labor outsourcing, and IT (23 percent)
  • At the highest management levels, risk matters.
    Over 90 percent of financial professionals note that risk management is either "very important" or "important" at the executive management level.
  • Successful companies foster cooperation between FP&A and risk management.
    Cooperation between these functions improves the quality of inputs from across business units, providing the executive team with better business insights for strategic planning and forecasting.

"We are finding that companies have better insight into risk when they coordinate risk management with the financial planning and analysis function," says Jim Kaitz, AFP's president and CEO. "A good place to start is by engaging the CFO in a discussion about how the company manages risk now and what the risk management goals are."

In October 2013, AFP surveyed its senior level corporate practitioner membership and prospects with job titles of CFO, treasurer, controller, vice president of finance and assistant treasurer about uncertainty and the way their organizations manage risk, receiving 554 responses.  This is the third installment in a three-year series of surveys by AFP and Oliver Wyman to study the business risk landscape and impact companies and their treasury and finance function.  Download complete findings on

With offices in 50+ cities across 25 countries, Oliver Wyman is global leader in management consulting that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. Oliver Wyman is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.

Headquartered outside Washington, D.C., the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) is the professional society that represents finance executives globally. AFP established and administers the Certified Treasury Professional and Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credentials, which set standards of excellence in finance. The quarterly AFP Corporate Cash Indicators serve as a bellwether of economic growth. The AFP Annual Conference is the largest networking event for corporate finance professionals in the world.

AFP, Association for Financial Professionals, Certified Treasury Professional, and Certified Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Professional are registered trademarks of the Association for Financial Professionals.

SOURCE Association for Financial Professionals