Finance leaders are feeling all this uncertainty and thinking about how to best manage risk. One of the most powerful tools they have is great data.
“Many CFOs are a bit pessimistic headed into 2019, and I recently read some survey results where almost half of them expected some form of recession to occur by the end of the year or into 2020,” says Betsy Bland, vice president, corporate strategy at Workday. “That kind of uncertainty makes finance leaders nervous, and it’s during these times that they need not just reliable information, but also real-time data — both from inside and outside of their organizations — that can help them manage risk more effectively and adjust as things unfold.”
Political uncertainty abounds, including what will happen in the run up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. More immediately, the UK’s proposed departure from the EU on March 29 could have a knock-on effect to the global economy.
“We’re living in a period of great instability, and businesses are holding off on making major decisions until Brexit is resolved,” said Rob Bloor, group financial controller at British-based financial services company Equiniti. “There’s a real need to be able to have the data on hand to make faster decisions as things change and I think that is the cornerstone of resilience — that ability to react. In terms of compliance, in 20 years in finance I don’t think I have ever seen such a tight focus on accountability and that is only going to intensify.”
Having the right technology to support your business is critical, says Tim Wakeford, vice president, financials product strategy, EMEA at Workday. “Uncertain economic conditions and potential subsequent changes in regulatory environments will force CFOs to evaluate their existing technology to ensure they can accommodate regulatory and reporting changes, and take advantage of commercial opportunities that are presented from limited economic growth,” Wakeford says. “You have to be ready for change, and that means being built to change.”
An example of this in the UK is the forthcoming Making Tax Digital for VAT legislation, which requires VAT-registered businesses with taxable turnover above the registration threshold to keep records in digital form and file their returns using software—not something all businesses are equipped to do.