Finance Leaders Under Pressure to Better Manage Margins, Cyber Threats and Cash Flow, According to Protiviti and FERF's 2016 Finance Priorities Survey

Finance professionals also focused on need for timely, accurate finance and performance management data, among wide range of financial priorities

Nov 10, 2015, 11:07 ET from Protiviti

MENLO PARK, Calif., Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2016, between maintaining margins and earnings performance, forecasting cash flow, complying with new regulations and combatting cyber threats, finance leaders and their teams will have to be incredibly vigilant, concludes the 2016 Finance Priorities Survey – Maintaining Margins While Staying Vigilant study ( from Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) and global consulting firm Protiviti.

"Margin and earnings performance ranks as the top priority across all groups of our survey respondents," said Ryan Senter, a Protiviti managing director and leader of the firm's Business Performance Improvement practice. "With the modest economic recovery of the past few years, finance functions are preparing the enterprise for challenges that could materialize at any time by working to preserve margins and by sustaining a strong focus on working capital management."

The 2016 Finance Priorities Survey, which gathered insights from more than 650 CFOs, VPs of finance, corporate controllers and other finance management professionals, assesses the priorities finance functions will address in the coming year, among other topics they need to manage and improve. Protiviti's report also includes recommended actions for finance leaders as well as trends to watch.

Top Five Priorities

All Survey Respondents' Significant Priorities: (responses ranked on scale of one to 10, with 10 highest; responses ranked 6 or higher classified as 'significant')

Margin/earnings performance


Strategic planning


Tax planning/forecasting


Periodic forecasting




CFO/VP-level Executives' Significant Priorities: (responses ranked on scale of one to 10, with 10 highest; responses ranked 6 or higher classified as 'significant')

Margin/earnings performance


Cybersecurity risks


Strategic planning


Periodic forecasting




"For CFOs responding to the survey, priority levels have trended up over last year's already high numbers, and cybersecurity risks join the ranks of other critical priorities," said Bill Sinnett, COO, Financial Executives Research Foundation.

Additional key findings from the 2016 survey include:

  • Cybersecurity concerns permeate the finance function – Cybersecurity represents a strategic organizational risk and, not surprisingly, one that ranks near the top of finance functions' priority lists. From a finance perspective, there are significant concerns regarding the security of financial information as well as the financial impacts of the security of all data. While IT often takes the lead in addressing this risk, cybersecurity is now a top boardroom issue as well as an area drawing substantial time and attention within the finance function.
  • Wanted: a single, real-time version of the truth – To help strengthen overall business performance and strategic planning, and to drive value from the financial data within an organization, finance functions want to develop better, more accurate and timelier data collection, data analysis, reporting, budgeting and forecasting capabilities. These corporate performance management processes are used to perform profitability analyses tied to customers, products, operating units and geographies.

About the Survey

The fifth edition of Protiviti's Finance Priorities Survey was conducted in the third quarter of 2015. Respondents were from a mix of public and private companies and the majority of their companies are located in the U.S. Sixty-two percent of respondents work for organizations with $500 million or more in revenue.

Survey Resources Available: Report, Webinar, Benchmarking Tool, Infographic and Video

A complimentary survey report along with an infographic and a short video summarizing the survey results are available at:

Protiviti will host a 60-minute webinar about key findings of the changing landscape for the finance function on November 11 at 10:00 a.m. PST. Speakers set to participate in the discussion are:

  • Bill Sinnett, COO, FERF
  • Ryan Senter, managing director, Protiviti
  • Bernie Donachie, managing director, Protiviti
  • Andrea Tiller, consulting CFO, Robert Half

To register for the complimentary webinar, please visit

Protiviti is also providing a free online benchmarking tool for finance professionals, available at By submitting responses to this year's survey questions in the areas of emerging issues, technical capabilities, organizational capabilities or process capabilities related to financial transactions and analysis, professionals can personalize a report to compare their organization's finance capabilities and priorities with those of their peers.

About Protiviti 

Protiviti ( is a global consulting firm that helps companies solve problems in finance, technology, operations, governance, risk and internal audit, and has served more than 60 percent of Fortune 1000® and 35 percent of Fortune Global 500® companies. Protiviti and its independently owned Member Firms serve clients through a network of more than 70 locations in over 20 countries. The firm also works with smaller, growing companies, including those looking to go public, as well as with government agencies.

Named to the 2015 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list, Protiviti is a wholly owned subsidiary of Robert Half (NYSE: RHI). Founded in 1948, Robert Half is a member of the S&P 500 index.

About Financial Executives Research Foundation, Inc.

Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) is the non-profit 501(c)(3) research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI). FERF researchers identify key financial issues and develop impartial, timely research reports for FEI members and nonmembers alike, in a variety of publication formats. FERF relies primarily on voluntary tax-deductible contributions from corporations and individuals, and publications can be ordered by logging onto

Protiviti is not licensed or registered as a public accounting firm and does not issue opinions on financial statements or offer attestation services.

Editor's note: infographic of survey results (in JPEG or PDF formats) and photos available upon request.

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SOURCE Protiviti