UK finance leaders ahead of Europe on digitisation plans

UK finance leaders have greater confidence that they can address future business challenges than their European counterparts, largely because they have made good progress in the digitisation of the finance function, according to research by recruitment specialist Robert Half UK

Its survey shows the majority (89%) of UK finance leaders are confident their digitisation plans put them in a strong position to address business challenges, with their confidence level only dropping three points to 86% when asked about their prospects in five years’ time.

In comparison, fewer of their counterparts in Europe are equally confident (83%), dropping nine points to 72% in five years’ time. The poll drew on more than 200 interviews with senior finance executives from companies across the UK and research with 1000 senior executives across six European countries.

The recruitment firm says the results suggest that UK businesses are in good shape to leverage their digitised finance functions to remain compliant and competitive, despite 87% citing challenges in the continual roll out of their digitisation plans.

The research found that 40% of finance leaders cite technology limitations as the biggest barrier to successfully digitising the finance function, followed by organisational and/or operating models (32%).

Executive leadership direction is another challenge identified by 29%, along with lack of the right skills (26%), standardisation of processes (23%), staff execution (21%) and monetary costs (19%).

Half (50%) of UK businesses are looking to invest in data analytics as an extension of their digitisation plans for the finance function, with fraud detection (43%) and compliance and regulation (35%) also identified as areas to receive investment. Only 7% of finance leaders said that they would not make any investments in new areas or initiatives at all.

Medium sized businesses (55%) and large businesses (57%) are more likely to invest in data analytics than small companies (37%).  Small businesses see fraud detection and risk management as more of a priority (48%) than medium businesses (42%) and large companies (37%). 

Phil Sheridan, UK managing director of Robert Half, said: ‘As UK businesses continue to invest in the digitisation of their finance function it cements the importance placed on the department for the organisations’ success. Accounting and finance professionals play a key role in identifying growth opportunities and cost efficiencies leading to competitive advantages for business.’

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Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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