In its recent report Finance 2025, Deloitte proclaimed that “finance is entering a golden age of technology,” and that “the days of ‘human middleware’ are coming to an end.”
That’s of course not a new argument – but it’s an incredibly effective way of putting it. Instead of “being the app,” Deloitte says, operational finance professionals will need to use apps to provide business insight. As operational finance tasks become more automated, and the onus shifts from providing accurate data to providing insight about what it says, finance pros will lean on finance applications and microservices that integrate with ERP systems.
The 300 finance professionals surveyed in our 2022 B2B Payments Outlook seem to know the urgency in moving there all too well. A full 97% agreed that “the role of the finance professional needs to shift from being payments-focused to strategically focused.” Nearly ⅔ strongly agreed with that statement – up from just a little over half when we surveyed finance professionals in 2021. And they said that a better A/R solution could even increase their company’s earnings per share.
But how they get there is less clear. Our survey shows that finance has increased spending on technology and people since 2021, but is still bumping up against many familiar accounts receivable (A/R) challenges. Here’s the thing: no amount of “transformational” finance technology will be able to do its job if more of the receivables process isn’t automated, so that data is accurate and accessible in one place and time can be spent on outliers and strategic endeavors. It’ll be even more critical as B2B customers and suppliers demand digital payment methods (concerns around security and fraud were among the biggest payments-related challenges in our survey).
How do you build a case for focusing on automating accounts receivable processes? Here are three stats that stood out from our survey that provide some sense of how much A/R inefficiencies are costing the finance department and the business. We surveyed businesses across industries with between $100 million and $1 billion in annual revenue, as well as companies that are both global and planning global operations in the near future.
6-10 hours wasted. That’s how much time half of those surveyed estimate they spend managing payments that could be spent on more strategic endeavors. ⅓ said they spend 11-20 hours on payments that they think could be spent on more strategic endeavors.
4-5% of revenue lost. A whopping 76% know their company has lost money because of time spent dealing with accounts receivable. When you break it down, 43% said they lose between 4-5% in revenue every month due to time wasted because of operational inefficiency with payments processing. And 27% said they lose 6-10%.
5-10% spending increase. Half of those surveyed said their companies increased spending on payments and technology for the finance team, but 92% said if their company had a better A/R solution, they could raise their company’s earnings per share.
Just because your business is getting paid doesn’t mean there isn’t untapped value in foundational accounts receivable and payments processes. What else did finance professionals have to say about B2B payments? Find out in our recent report : Pulse on Payments: 2022 B2B Payments Outlook.