Corporate CFOs and controllers are struggling to keep up with the pace of change in financial reporting, according to a global EY survey that found an increasing number say change is having a significant impact on the effectiveness of corporate reporting.

The biggest obstacle to transforming corporate reporting is the cost and complexity of making changes to the legacy information technology environment, according to half of the 1,000 CFOS and controllers surveyed. Close to one-third said their reporting operating model is average, and 56 percent say transforming the model is a primary focus of their role within their organizations.

More than half said they expect to see a significant or very significant increase in the use of outsourcing, and nearly as many expect to see more use of managed services and captive share service centers, either on-shore or near-shore. 

Nearly one-third of CFOs and controllers are hoping to achieve increased accuracy and effectiveness of reporting through use of such service arrangements; 29 percent are looking for improved data analytics in reporting to drive forward-looking strategy; and 28 percent hope to achieve a more flexible and agile reporting function.

“CFOs worldwide are struggling to make the most of the increased volume and speed of data available to them,” says Peter Wollmert, a global financial accounting and advisory services leader at EY. “Many are encumbered by legacy systems that do not allow reporting teams to extract forward-looking insight from large, fast-changing data sets.” That is producing an increasing expectation gap between what boards want and need from corporate reporting, and what CFOs can deliver. “Until reporting catches up with technological advancements it will continue to be compromised,” he says.

In the report, Wollmert predicts companies will continue to move toward automation and digitization to improve and streamline corporate reporting. “By focusing on innovative technologies and a more nimble operating model, CFOs and reporting leaders can design and deliver the responsive reporting capability required for a world that will continue to accelerate,” he says.