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CFOs spooked about data inaccuracies, study finds

Nearly 73% also admit to having data governance issues

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CFOs at 78 percent of large UK companies are concerned about submitting inaccurate financial data according to a new study published on Monday.

In its survey titled Data and the CFO: a love / hate relationship, business analytics software and services provider SAS said the risk of submitting inaccurate financial reports is particularly alarming as 58 percent of the CFOs it surveyed belonged to listed companies.

SAS said the fears are given further credence by a recent high profile data management error which resulted in the resignation of a FTSE100 CFO in the travel industry, following submission of inaccurate financial accounts to the City.

In fact, 63 percent of financial leaders confirmed in the study that a public relations disaster of this nature is most likely to spur cultural change and investment in data management. Nearly 73 percent admitted to having data governance issues. When probed further, finance chiefs estimated that, on average, 23 percent of all electronic data held by their business is inaccurate and not fit for purpose.

For its research, SAS polled 100 CFOs and finance directors of which 58 belonged to companies listed on one global stock exchange at the very least.

Hugo D’Ulisse, director of information management at SAS UK, said,"Earlier this year we revealed that a fifth of large UK companies assign a financial value to their data, which is a key step on the path towards data governance."

"Those companies that take this approach have more confidence their data is accurate, they are far more likely to have dedicated teams to manage data and they have sophisticated measurement techniques to track the quality of data overtime. In short, they govern data in a rigours manner like other business assets," he added.  

Despite the challenges, all senior finance leaders believe that good data management has the potential to drive growth for their business, with 44 percent believing that potential to be significant, 42 percent citing it as moderate and just 14 percent viewing it as slight.

Interestingly the largest companies, with 10,000 or more employees, are more optimistic and 59 percent see the potential as significant and of those that quantify data on the balance sheet the number rises further still to 70 percent.


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