Corporate ethics and business reporting

CFOs are stepping up to take on important role as trusted advisors, but they don’t have the technology they need to support them in their efforts, according to a recent survey of nearly 300 CFOs and other senior level executives.

While 81 per cent of senior business executives believe the CFO

plays a role as a trusted advisor within their organization, only 25 believe that business intelligence technology can support the strategic demands placed on the CFO, according to the survey by SAS Institute and Better Management, a business conference firm.

This is essential, given today’s climate of distrust in the wake of scandals such as Enron, says Lynn Brewer, a former Enron executive who blew the whistle on the company’s financial reporting misdeeds. Though Enron is clearly the poster child for corporate corruption, its misdeeds were just the beginning of a tsunami of such cases, says Brewer.

“”The driving factors that existed when Enron imploded exist today,”” she says.

Market pressures are forcing companies to show quick short-term gains, which drive some to falsify their financial records. It also means that long-term goals are often sacrificed for short-term profits. Though people originally thought the problem at Enron was an accounting issue, it actually went deeper, Brewer says.

The problem was a lack of understanding of whether the Enron business model worked, she says. Enron executives didn’t know if the business model was making money, or if it even could.

One organization looking for a consolidated view of its data is CIBC’s mortgages and lending division, says Paul Flach, the Toronto-based director of management information services for operations and services at the bank.

“”We’re going to use it for building a single source of the truth,”” he says. CIBC hopes to use the tool to do credit risk management and profit and loss reporting, he says. The company is in the process of tying in all of the data from its front-end applications into SAS 9.

In the end, Flach hopes to achieve a better understanding of the key drivers of the business.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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