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  • 19 September 2016 16:38

Financial Professionals Key to Achieving Sustainable Business Growth: Survey

63% of Australian respondents nominated sound financial practice systems as being the most important requirement for achieving well-managed economic growth.

SYDNEY – September 19, 2016: As Australian companies strive for growth in a rapidly evolving economy, having experienced financial officers and solid underlying systems in place have been identified as critical factors, according to new research.

In a survey conducted on behalf of BlackLine (http://www.blackline.com/), a leading provider of Enhanced Financial Controls and Automation (EFCA) solutions that enable Continuous Accounting (http://www.blackline.com/continuous-accounting), 63% of Australian respondents nominated sound financial practice systems as being the most important requirement for achieving well-managed economic growth. Of those surveyed, 57% said having a senior team possessing a sound understanding of finances and business systems was key.

The Australian results mirror those of a corresponding international survey (also conducted on behalf of BlackLine). Based on responses from more than 750 C-level executives and other business decision makers in the United Kingdom, France and the United States, it found 60% of respondents believed having sound financial practices was a core component for achieving business growth.

"The surveys highlight the importance for organisations of having qualified and experienced financial professionals on board," said Todd Hunt, Vice President and General Manager – Asia Pacific, BlackLine. "At BlackLine, we call these people Exceptional Accountants.”

Hunt said Exceptional Accountants were best placed to add value to their organisations when the manual and repetitive processes that traditionally occupied a large proportion of their time were removed.

"By embracing automation and adopting a strategy of Continuous Accounting, Exceptional Accountants are much better positioned to help drive new initiatives and growth," Hunt said.

"This is particularly important at a time when many businesses are struggling with slowing economic conditions and lacklustre consumer demand. Equipped with the right tools, Exceptional Accountants can focus on longer-term goals rather than on rote accounting activities."

Improving business performance

When asked to nominate the most important skills needed to develop a business, 42% of Australian survey respondents nominated having a strong understanding of future finance needs with a further 37% saying it was a strong understanding of figures. This compares with marketing (41%) and sales (41%) and people management skills (61%).

Interestingly, just over a third (36%) of survey respondents felt their Chief Financial Officer (CFO) could become more involved in improving business performance. This was significantly higher than the international survey where it was nominated by just 17% of respondents.

Of the Australian respondents aged between 35 and 44 years, 39% felt financial teams contributed to the growth of a business beyond simply financial management.

"This shows the most successful CFOs and senior financial managers will be those who possess both strategic skills, as well as a sound understanding of accounting," said Hunt. "Supported by a team of Exceptional Accountants, they will be able to deliver even more value to their organisation."

Business leaders

Survey respondents were also asked to describe the person within their organisation who is responsible for running the finance function. Words used included ‘business leader’ (43%), ‘insightful’ (42%) and ‘innovative’ (40%).

These results compare with the international research where ‘business leader’ was nominated by 59% of respondents in the United States. Of that group, 43% used the word ‘insightful’.

"Again, this shows that the true value of Exceptional Accountants extends well beyond their skills with the books," said Hunt. "They are increasingly seen as strategic thinkers who can provide a fresh perspective on business challenges."

Survey respondents were asked who they would rather have running their organisation during times of economic recession. In Australia, more than two in five (42%) said they would prefer an ex-finance chief in the role. A further 19% said they would rather have an ex-accountant and just 17% nominated a marketing person.

This compares with 45% of respondents to the US survey who would prefer an ex-finance chief running the organisation during tough times.

"The surveys clearly show the important role that finance professionals, and the systems that support them, play within organisations around the world," said Hunt.

"Clearly CFOs and Exceptional Accountants are seen as a steadying force during shifting economic conditions and a significant proportion of decision makers surveyed would prefer to see them in the top job."

The survey was conducted by Censuswide.

About BlackLine

BlackLine (http://www.blackline.com/) is a provider of cloud-based solutions for Finance & Accounting (F&A) that centralise and streamline financial close operations and other key F&A processes for midsize and large organisations. Designed to complement ERP and other financial systems, the BlackLine Finance Controls & Automation Platform (http://www.blackline.com/finance-controls-and-automation) increases operational efficiency, real-time visibility, control and compliance to ensure end-to-end financial close management, fuelling confidence throughout the entire accounting cycle.

BlackLine’s mission is to continuously improve the quality, accuracy and efficiency of Finance & Accounting by centralising key functions within a single, unified cloud platform. Enabling customers to move beyond outdated processes and point solutions to a Continuous Accounting (http://www.blackline.com/continuous-accounting) model, in which real-time automation, controls and period-end tasks are embedded within day-to-day activities, BlackLine helps companies achieve Modern Finance status, ensuring more accurate and insightful financial statements and a more efficient financial close. More than 1,500 companies with users in approximately 120 countries around the world trust BlackLine to ensure balance sheet integrity and confidence in their financial statements.

BlackLine is recognised by Gartner as a Leader in its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Financial Corporate Performance Management (FCPM) Solutions and as a pioneer of the Enhanced Financial Controls & Automation (EFCA) software category.

Based in Los Angeles, BlackLine also has regional headquarters in London, Singapore and Sydney. For more information, please visit www.blackline.com.

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