NetSuite recently published their latest survey regarding priorities in the finance industry. The results are based on specific information from finance professionals and explore how finance teams have managed during the pandemic. The survey repeated certain themes and questions from the previous report to assess how priorities may have changed in recent months. Some of the key findings are listed below:
Over 40% of respondents said that finance teams were operating at the highest ability, providing all the services their business requires and expects. Over 45% of finance professionals believe the influence and position of the finance department has expanded in recent months. All respondents agreed that spending continues to remain down but suggest that the pandemic has had little impact on expected debt capacity.
The survey showed that just 26% of respondents are looking for the majority, if not all of their finance team to make a return to the office. The findings suggest that some businesses have found the transformation to remote work rather challenging. To some organisations remote work has been difficult and has impacted both productivity and efficiency.
While about half of respondents highlighted culture as a barrier to working from home effectively, the reliance on sending documents to the central office was the top reason. Both of these factors can be solved, particularly the document concern with the right technology in place. Culture, however, is more complicated but is possible.
Investment by organisations continues to remain down, apart from in the IT and Technology sectors. Businesses are still looking for ways to reduce their spend in response to the pandemic. Over 70% of respondents are continuing to identify methods of savings, a big rise since the previous year. A similar rise was noticed in terms of managing the expectations of board members and the CEO, suggesting a possible rise in importance of the finance industry.
Marketing is an interesting area, with businesses approaching the sector in various ways. Over 30% of businesses are interested in increasing their marketing spend, whilst nearly 40% are planning to reduce their investment in marketing. Closer inspection reveals that marketing techniques are changing, with a shift in spend on physical events towards virtual projects. With marketing budgets being reduced for many organisations, business leaders are exploring alternative and more innovative ways of continuing to market and promote their business.
Finance teams are continuing to look at some investments, with nearly 50% viewing new training as a vital area and a further 42% interested in improving their tools and cloud-based services.
The survey also explored the impact of the pandemic on financial processes. A little over three quarters stated that scenario planning has become more complex, and approximately 60% believe that managing cash flow is more challenging than ever.
One of the most notable highlights of the report is that there continues to be mixed opinions in terms of what approach should be taken in returning to work for finance professionals. In the coming months, there may be more clarity on a best practice for finance teams, but either way, confidence seems to be returning and respondents indicated that they can clearly see success in the coming months.