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ICAS survey

Cybersecurity rises among concerns for FDs

Bruce Cartwright: ‘cyber security features in the top four headaches’


Cybersecurity is emerging as a growing concern among finance directors while they are split over the direction of the economy, according to a new survey by accountancy body ICAS.

Asked to report their top 10 most pressing issues, FDs identified controlling costs as their number one concern while cybersecurity made it into the top five.

ICAS said cybersecurity was hardly on the radar until 2016 when it was the fifth-rated issue, moving up to third most important last year, above staff recruitment and retention.

Bruce Cartwright, chief executive of ICAS sad: “Historically, controlling costs, growing revenues and recruitment and retention have consistently been Finance Directors’ top priorities.

“But with the increasing reliance we all place on information technology, and the ever-increasing array of threats from ‘distributed denial of service’ attacks to targeted phishing by fraudsters, it’s perhaps no surprise that cyber security features in the top four headaches for the FD.”

Half of respondents reported increased hiring in 2018 (18% report a decrease in hiring). Paradoxically, 23% of FDs expected to see redundancies in their organisation in the remainder of 2018 (2017: 17%).

The survey also asked what FDs see as the biggest impact of technology on their role. Key themes included: Big data and the opportunities created by data analytics; automation and real-time information cutting out routine manual processes and creating “flatter” management structures; the increased threat presented by cyber-security issues, malware and similar IT problems and the increased use of social media as a communication platform.

Top 10 issues on the FDs’ agenda (2017 rankings shown in brackets.)

Controlling costs (2)
Growing revenues (1)
Recruitment and retention (4)
Cyber-security (3)
Fraud prevention (5)
Corporate governance (8)
Other IT issues (6)
E-commerce and the Internet (10)
Bringing new products and services to the market (7)
Regulatory issues (UK) (13)

Opinion split on economy

Finance chiefs are divided on the economy, with 50% predicting “flat or negligible” growth for the UK (below 1%) and 41% expecting to see “modest” growth (above 1% but not more than 2.5%).

Fears of negative growth have decreased from 16% in 2017 to only 2% in 2018.

FDs at small organisations (less than £10m turnover) were more pessimistic, with only 39% predicting growth above 1%, compared with 53% of those in large organisations (£100m turnover or above).

FDs and CFOs have been on a rollercoaster ride over the past five years. As many as 82% were confident of growth over 1% in 2014, but that figure fell to 14% in 2016, after the UK’s referendum on EU membership.



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