Survey helps CFOs compare and assess their finance functions

As a CFO, would you like to know how your peers feel about IFRS or what parts of the finance and accounting functions they outsource? “Benchmarking the Finance Function 2012”, a recently released research report, has some answers.

The third annual report, which the Financial Executives Research Foundation and Robert Half Management Resources compiled from responses to an online survey of financial executives in November 2011, went beyond the US for the first time. Results and analysis involved responses from 262 executives, about one-quarter of them from Canada and 11% from France.

Key findings included:

  • In 2011, US companies employed a higher percentage of temporary staff in their finance and accounting departments compared with a year earlier – an average 12%, up from 9% in 2010. In Canadian companies, temporary staff accounted for an average 8% of finance and accounting departments.

  • Among US companies, 38% outsourced payroll functions in 2011, down from 48% in 2009. Payroll functions were outsourced at 29% of Canadian companies and 59% of French companies.

  • Financial reforms resulting from the global financial crisis are adding to the cost of compliance, said 49% of the US respondents, up from 41% in 2009. Fifty-two percent of the Canadian executives and 25% of the French executives felt that way.

  • In 2011, 11% of US companies used IFRS accounting standards, up from 5% in 2009. That compared with 45% of Canadian companies and 50% of French companies.

  • Excel is the budgeting and planning tool of choice for the majority of the companies in the US, Canada and France. Only a small percentage of companies (1% in the US, 2% in Canada) planned to use XBRL data for any purpose other than satisfying mandatory US Securities and Exchange Commission requirements.

Sabine Vollmer ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.