Research by iplicit exploring how UK finance decision-makers plan, manage and deliver the finance function reveals that more than a third (39%) take over a week to prepare and submit month-end reports.

Worryingly, almost one in five (17%) reported that it can take more than a fortnight – with unreliable data being the most significant cause of delay.

Delayed month-end reporting places additional and unnecessary pressure on finance teams, as well as creating significant business risk by not providing crucial financial information to business leaders in a timely manner. 

The sizable survey, commissioned by accounting software provider iplicit, sought the opinion of 1,000 UK-based finance decision-makers working in organisations that employ between 50 and 500 employees. 

The report also highlights additional stumbling blocks in delivering month-end accounts, with the top reasons being:

  1. 18% reported having unreliable data that needs checking 
  2. 17% reported needing to work across multiple incompatible systems/ data points and having a lack of internal resources

A lack of resources is a problem that the accounting profession is facing as a whole, with a recent survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants reporting that two-thirds of accounting firms are finding it difficult to recruit the right talent.

Moreover, UK finance decision-makers say they are restricted by missing data (12%) and having a reliance on many slow manual processes (11%).

Commenting on this, iplicit commercial director, Paul Sparkes, said: “Spending longer than needed on month-end reporting significantly eats into precious time and resources – both of which have significant bottom-line ramifications for organisations regardless of their size, or sector.”

Over the past three years, organisations have faced an extraordinary array of new challenges. From supply chain disruption to the great resignation, as well as inflation and rising interest rates – the finance teams’ forecasting and traditional measures of business performance have been turned on their head. 

On top of this, business risk has escalated and with the ongoing lack of confidence from the CBI, companies urgently require fast access to deep, accurate financial information to support vital decisions. 

Sparkes adds, “A lack of rapid insight into business performance is not only hugely frustrating, but it creates a significant risk which is not something any business should tolerate. 

I question whether UK finance decision-makers are being held back by their accounting and finance systems and processes.”

Many finance teams still use time-consuming manual processes for adjustments and the allocation of expenses across different business units – core activities that could and should be automated. This will improve accuracy and reduce the burden on the finance team

Sparkes concluded: “Missing and unreliable data will clearly create frustration amongst finance decision-makers. Without careful consideration of how to address these challenges, finance departments could be facing the perfect storm of dealing with unreliable data, lack of resources and inefficient systems to generate their month-end reports.”