In conjunction with business outsourcing company Liberata, CSW surveyed 108 finance professionals between October and December last year, of which 65 were in the senior civil service or grades 6 and 7.
When asked: “To what extent do you think that your department/organisation’s senior management team appreciate the importance of the finance function and the delivery of accounts?”, 23 per cent said they “have a deep understanding and appreciation”; 35 per cent said “they are aware of the importance it has to wider strategic direction”; and 33 per cent said “some of them are aware and appreciate it, but not all.”
Richard Douglas, head of the Government Finance Profession, told CSW that finance teams are increasingly viewed as important because departments are facing financial constraints: “They’re having to make difficult decisions about the prioritisation of resources. People increasingly see the value of finance professionals in helping them do that.”
When asked: “Do you think that enough of the senior management team within your organisation have finance qualifications?”, 14 per cent said: “There are enough finance professionals and it would not be appropriate for there to be more”; while 40 per cent said: “There is a satisfactory number of finance professionals to operate effectively”.
Douglas said this represents an improvement in perceptions among finance professionals, and has come about both because of “a push from the finance community itself, but also a pull from senior management and senior political leadership to recognize that you need these skills to deal with the problems that the country faces.”
The survey asked about the financial skills of non-finance civil servants. Nearly half of respondents – 41 per cent – said: “The majority of non-finance professionals in my organisation have some understanding of finance but are not always able to assist me in my role.”