3 minute read 30 Jun 2022

How to facilitate finance processes through the managed services solution

By Ludovic Deprez

EY Belgium Financial Accounting Advisory Services Partner

Someone who enjoys/lives 8 days in a week in order to get a perfect balance between work, family, sport & party.

3 minute read 30 Jun 2022

The results of the CFO Barometer show why companies should outsource managed services.

In brief

  • 81% of CFOs outsource little because they are concerned about quality, lack of control, and giving access to sensitive information.
  • Many CFOs think that temporary hiring is the only reliable way of saving time during the financial close, yet 85% have difficulty finding the right talent.
  • Despite CFO distrust, outsourcing and managed services prove to be a win-win situation.

The most recent CFO Barometer reveals that CFOs are concerned about finance processes with a major impact on their teams and the time spent on these processes. The underlying question is: how then can CFOs make these processes more efficient? Do CFOs need to assign more people or do they need to turn to tools or outsourcing?

  • CFO Barometer

    The CFO Barometer is an independent research initiative of the editors of CFO Magazine in cooperation with EY Belgium. A questionnaire concerning a relevant CFO topic was answered by a representative sample of around two hundred Belgian CFOs from medium-sized to large multinational companies.

    The focus of the CFO Barometer is local, so the results are very representative of the Belgian market and as such the CFO Barometer becomes a benchmark tool for the CFO active in Belgium.

Skills and time constraints

56% of respondents indicate that available resources and time are often used inefficiently and ineffectively. 60% state that understaffing is not the problem. Instead, they attribute this inefficiency to a lack of time or proper skills. Concerning skills, it is clear that the war for talent is in full sway as 85% say it is difficult to find the right people.

Graph: Do you believe that available resources and time are utilized efficiently and effectively?
Graph: Is it easy to find the right people?

The outsourcing situation

Over half of the respondents (55%) do not think about outsourcing certain tasks. The majority (81%) indicate that they want to retain a certain amount of control and therefore they only partially outsource a select few processes like the preparation of the financial close. Yet CFOs could also outsource other repetitive tasks to save time, such as compliance, administration, preparing reports for analysis, preparing internal management reports, etc. 

Graph: Have you considered outsourcing certain tasks?

So, what is holding them back? The risk that certain (sensitive) internal information will be disclosed. However, that risk is ultimately no greater than that incurred when outsourcing payroll to an external payroll provider – something that CFOs do more often. Therefore, the possibilities of outsourcing these processes does not warrant the level of distrust we see among CFOs. Given the continuing tight labor market, we expect outsourcing to systematically increase in the future.

Why managed services is the solution

Managed services is a form of (partial) outsourcing where an external party prepares, for example, monthly management reports or performs the consolidation once a month/year. For example, with reporting, you send the data through on working day 2 (after closing) and get the report back in the correct format on business day 4, giving finance teams much more time to analyze things.

Finance teams often still live from closing to compliance. Instead, closing should be like pushing a pause button 5 months into the year to check your status. Too much information does not surface until year-end because finance teams just do not have the time to analyze reports. This is precisely where outsourcing could play a decisive role. And the respondents agree, as 1 in 2 CFOs state that managed services can reduce the burden on the finance function and thereby boost retention.

Graph: Do you think that this type of managed services can contribute to:

After all, employees are much more likely to quit when they have to do things outside their field of interest. However, many CFOs think that so-called loan staff or the temporary hiring of specialists is the only solution to this problem. But finding profiles and figuring out what tasks to give them once consolidation has been completed is difficult and time-consuming in its own right. So, despite CFO concerns, the managed services concept proves to be a win-win situation.

CFOs prefer having someone internally that they can sit next to rather than a remote service. That’s understandable. But in today’s job market, that’s an unachievable luxury.
Ludovic Deprez
EY Belgium Financial Accounting Advisory Services Partner

EY and managed services

Managed services are a relatively new service offered by EY in many of its different divisions. In our model, the client officer is the single point of contact for the company that wishes to hire us. This person is responsible for aligning the client with the desired service, timing, and deliverables. The requested reports are then prepared/processed by our systems and people, with the client officer taking care of the communication flows to the client. General awareness of these services is still in its infancy, but we strongly believe that this new trend is set to accelerate.

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The results of the CFO Barometer show a lack of CFO trust in outsourcing financial processes. Yet the distrust is not warranted as outsourcing and managed services can prove very beneficial. Also, the increasingly tight job market simply does not allow for other solutions like temporary hiring. If the finance professional wants to unburden himself, he will need to accept a loss of control to some extent.

About this article

By Ludovic Deprez

EY Belgium Financial Accounting Advisory Services Partner

Someone who enjoys/lives 8 days in a week in order to get a perfect balance between work, family, sport & party.