In brief

In brief

  • Disruptions from the pandemic, access to talent, threat of recession and rising interest rates are key concerns among global finance leaders.
  • These executives agree that a finance model featuring real-time scenario-planning, insights and accounting can help them outmaneuver uncertainty.
  • This approach enables finance leaders to optimize cash flow, forecast with greater accuracy and integrate planning across the business.
  • When companies move to Intelligent Finance Operations, they see the payoff.

You’re "future-proofing" your business. Are your finance operations leading the way?

If recent history has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. The unpredictable. Even the unprecedented.

So how can businesses thrive in an unstable environment? Success hinges on adaptability and agility. And it is increasingly centered on the finance area.

Accenture surveyed 450 finance leaders of companies with over a billion dollars in revenue in the US and Europe to gain insight into their most pressing challenges and the obstacles they face in meeting them.

While their concerns vary, they all agree that to manage day-to-day finance operations and plan for the future in the face of uncertainty, real-time processes will help them make more informed business decisions.

Individual circumstances inform CFO challenges

Our research found that there are four distinct—and diverse—disruptors that executives are most worried about for the coming year.


Rising interest rates


Disruption from the pandemic




Hiring and retaining the right talent

While as a group, they appeared to be equally apprehensive about each of these areas, at a country and industry level they did vary significantly.

Executives in the UK, for instance, were more likely to cite disruptions from the pandemic as a top concern than leaders in the US. Conversely, Brexit was seen as a much bigger challenge to German business leaders than it was to British leaders.

While many leaders feel they are very or somewhat prepared for most of these disruptions, only 11% expressed confidence in their level of preparedness for a recession.

This range of responses demonstrates global businesses need to be able to dynamically plan for a variety of crises that could affect them in different ways and to different degrees. As we’ve seen in the case of the pandemic, some companies have been hit harder than others.

Today’s finance function is in a unique position to respond quickly to high-impact events that can affect markets differently and drive positive change.

Time to get real with real-time finance

What do finance leaders think will help them outmaneuver these looming threats? Real-time finance, which uses a data-driven, intelligent operating model to give CFOs a continuously updated view of the entire business.

99% of leaders surveyed said it’s important to have real-time processes and operations in place to inform better business decisions. But are they moving fast enough? Just 16% have scaled current finance processes and operations to real-time. However, 44% plan to have nearly all finance processes and operations in real-time over the next three years.

What’s the delay?

Finance leaders face a wide range of obstacles in making this transformation, including:

  • The right operating model
  • Access to data
  • Appropriate technologies
  • Skilled talent

How finance leaders can outmaneuver disruptions

Today’s finance function is in a unique position to respond quickly to high-impact events that can affect markets differently and drive positive change.

Intelligent Finance Operations helps companies transform the finance function from a transactional service to a strategic asset. When a company embraces this model, its "Core Finance Operations" become touchless, data-driven and intelligent. These core functions work hand-in-hand with its "Strategic Finance Operations," which enable finance leaders to quantify and evaluate different possible future outcomes, build scenarios and strategize accordingly.

Think of it as two complementary parts of a powerful engine fueling how finance delivers value: the stronger the core operations are, the swifter the pivot to the strategic can be. And the more real-time the strategic insights, the better or more streamlined the core can be.

This approach frees up a company’s finance team to focus on the future, planning for both normal business environments and chaotic ones and giving finance leaders confidence in their actions and contingency plans.

The power to manage the future

Investors expect today’s finance executives to innovate, fend off risks, capitalize on competitive strengths and jump on opportunities before other firms beat them to it.

The opportunity is clear: By embracing change and making the move to Intelligent Finance Operations, you can take full advantage of the finance function’s increasingly elevated role, while positioning your company for growth.

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