NEW YORK, April 3, 2006 – Integrating specific finance capabilities across an organization is a key factor in driving growth and improving shareholder value, according to a new book written by two Accenture executives, Michael Sutcliff and Michael Donnellan.
Supported by a recent study from Accenture that shows a strong correlation between a high-performance business and the mastery of a specific set of finance capabilities, “CFO Insights: Delivering High Performance” provides a framework to help finance executives balance the pace and mix of investments required to build these capabilities.
According to Accenture, a high-performance business effectively balances its current needs and future opportunities and consistently outperforms its competitors over time and across business cycles, industry disruptions and changes in CEO leadership.
“Each year, companies in the world’s five largest economies spend more than $200 billion on their finance and accounting capabilities,” said Sutcliff. “Historically, CFOs have sought to constantly decrease that cost. Today, however, high-performance businesses create agendas to ‘right-size’ and ‘re-skill’ their finance and accounting units equipping them and the entire enterprise with new skill sets, new competencies and extended execution capabilities that go way beyond the basics of accounting and reporting.”
To illustrate this new agenda, “CFO Insights: Delivering High Performance” offers insights from visionary CFOs of major global organizations — including Best Buy, Caterpillar, UnitedHealth Group, SAP AG, Swiss Re, BP and the U.S. General Services Administration — to help quantify and calibrate high-performance finance functions and explain what sets these organizations apart from their competitors.
“Our interviews revealed that chief financial officers in these high-performance organizations are operating well beyond their traditional legacy roles,” said Donnellan. “Instead of managing routine finance operations, they are much more engaged with their senior executive teams in helping to identify value-creating opportunities and in supporting the business in leveraging those opportunities.”
Delivering High Performance includes contributions from more than a dozen Accenture professionals. The authors’ combined experience, insight and understanding reveal how finance can be used to drive growth, including:
- How and why high performers consistently outpace their competitors over a sustained timeframe across business cycles, industry disruptions and changes in leadership.
- The leadership characteristics and attitudes of leading finance executives.
- The strong correlation between a high-performance organization and mastery of five finance capabilities: value-centered culture, enterprise performance management, finance operations, capital stewardship, and enterprise risk management.
- The characteristics of high-performance finance in the public sector.
- Achieving high-performance finance in some of the most dynamic regions in the world, including Eastern Europe, Japan, and China.
While creation of value has traditionally been the role of the CEO, finance executives have become the critical drivers in what authors call “Value Centered Culture” — both in defining what value means and in helping to embed value-based decision making at every level of an organization.
“Finance frames how business alternatives should be analyzed with the goal of optimizing value creation. While line management retains ultimate responsibility for strategic decisions, finance sets the economic terms of the debate and is an integral member of the decision-making team.” said Sutcliff.
Through original research, in-depth case histories and leading practice data and analysis, the book also offers practical advice and strategies that help CFOs enable the finance function to be a central contributor to shareholder value and enhance their companies’ performance. For example, successful CFOs understand the importance of identifying and quantifying the explicit contribution to growth by better leveraging intangible assets, which are much better predictors of future corporate value for many organizations. By identifying the intangible assets, executives can better manage them and convince the markets that their companies will sustain high rates of superior growth, profitability and investment returns.
Research completed for the book includes metrics and insights from The Hackett Group, whose benchmarking methodology and database are the gold standard for defining and measuring how finance cost structures and leading practices change over time.
This book is the second in Accenture’s CFO Insights series with John Wiley & Sons, following “CFO Insights: Achieving High Performance Through Finance Business Process Outsourcing,” published in 2004. A third book in the series, “CFO Insights: Enabling High Performance Through Leading Practices for Finance ERP,” will be available by mid-year. More information and ordering details for “CFO Insights: Delivering High Performance” will be available online at www.accenture.com.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 129,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$15.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2005. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
About Wiley & Sons
Wiley is a global publisher of print and electronic products, specializing in scientific, technical, and medical books and journals; professional and consumer books and subscription services; and textbooks and other educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students as well as lifelong learners. Wiley has approximately 22,700 active titles and about 400 journals, and publishes about 2000 new titles in a variety of print and electronic formats each year.
About the Authors
Michael R. Sutcliff is director–New Businesses at Accenture. Until November 2005, Mr. Sutcliff was managing partner of Accenture’s Finance & Performance Management practice. He has more than 20 years of experience working with finance executives across multiple industries and geographies to complete strategic, business architecture development, systems integration, and business transformation and outsourcing engagements.
Michael Donnellan is a senior executive in Accenture’s Products practice, with more than 20 years of experience in the professional services industry. An engineer by background, Mr. Donnellan has spent the last 10 years focusing on the new role of finance in the modern corporate enterprise. In 2004 he co-authored “CFO Insights: Achieving High Performance Through Finance Business Process Outsourcing,” which provided a strategic guide to the fast-growing finance and accounting business process outsourcing field for CFOs and senior management.