BlackLine Blog

January 10, 2023

Survey Points to Key Role of Financial Automation in Managing Instability & Volatility

Intelligent Automation
2 Minute Read

Hilary O'Brien

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War in Eastern Europe. Global inflation. Ongoing supply chain issues. Just one of these is enough to cause serious impacts on business—and currently, the world is enduring all three, along with countless other local and regional economic disruptions.

While Finance and Accounting (F&A) has a reputation for remaining calm and pragmatic in a crisis, it can be overwhelming for these departments to help steer their organizations through difficult times while keeping up with their day-to-day work. BlackLine wanted to hear directly from F&A professionals on how they’re feeling about these issues and more.

Survey Results of F&A Executives & Professionals

In a survey of 1,483 C-suite executives and F&A professionals in medium and large companies around the world, BlackLine discovered not-so-rosy outlooks and insights including:

  • Nearly two thirds (63%) of all respondents said they expected a worldwide recession within a year

  • Almost all (95%) expect rising interest rates to have an impact on the way their business operates

  • More than six in ten (62%) C-suite and F&A professionals predict that their companies’ financial reporting will come under increased scrutiny over the next year

Whether or not these results surprise you, they beg for real solutions and actionable ways to address them.

Trust (or Lack of) in the Numbers

Since 2018, our surveys have shown C-Suite trust in the accuracy of the financial data at their companies has fluctuated from a high of 71% in 2018, dropping to 58% in 2022. In addition, in our 2022 results, nearly half (48%) of overall respondents indicated they do not have complete confidence that their company’s financial data is accurate.

The top three reasons given for this mistrust were:

1.     Some or all of my team are working from home—making it difficult to know if the right processes are being followed

2.     Data from too many sources—making it difficult to know if all data is being accounted for correctly

3.     A continued reliance on clunky spreadsheets and other outdated processes that leave finance teams in the dark until month-end

As previously noted, most of the C-suite and F&A professionals we surveyed this year are braced for recession. They are also concerned that rising interest rates will push up the cost of company borrowing and mean that their customers will have less to spend.

As a result of relative mistrust in numbers along with these other external factors, the accuracy of companies’ financial data is expected to come under more scrutiny. And, outside of this survey, there have been other developments, such as the SEC’s new clawback rules, which bring even more importance to certainty in financial numbers.

How Financial Automation Helps Increase Confidence in the Numbers

The various factors discussed in the survey expose a weak link in many F&A departments: manual, error-prone, and outdated processes.

And consider this—nearly two-thirds (62%) of our respondents agreed that the ability to view their companies’ financial data in real time will be a “must-have” for business survival over the next 12 months.

How can F&A departments solve for archaic processes and gain real-time visibility? By employing the intelligent use of automation.

Leveraging a solution like BlackLine to automate end-to-end accounting processes—including the financial close, accounts receivable, and intercompany—helps reduce manual errors and increases the quality of your numbers.

In addition, automating manual, transactional work frees up capacity for F&A teams, so more time can be spent on proactively identifying anomalies in the data and ensuring the integrity of the financial reporting. And it allows for earlier views of the financial reports to proactively tackle issues—this directly addresses the concern of 62% of our respondents!

Of course, technology and automation are only part of the solution—they cannot reduce economic uncertainty. However, employing solutions like BlackLine can help companies become more efficient, reduce errors in financial data, and provide visibility so F&A departments can make faster, smarter, and more informed decisions.

Get your copy of the full report Eye of the Storm: F&A’s Role in Responding to Instability & Volatility to understand:

  • Who is responsible for steering a business through a recession?

  • F&A’s role in responding to global instability and volatility

  • The top challenges and pain points, such as intercompany transactions

  • The importance of cash flow in turbulent economic period

About the Author


Hilary O'Brien