CFOs, Finance Teams Putting Reputation Ahead of Profit

Amid rising scrutiny of corporate actions, organisations more prepared to lose profit in short term to protect long-term reputations.

CFOs and other finance leaders around the world are putting corporate reputation first with 76% of Chartered Global Management Accountants surveyed by the AICPA and CIMA saying their organisations are prepared to lose profit in the short term to protect their image over the long term.

The finding comes as organisations around the world, from electronics manufacturers to clothing retailers, face more scrutiny for their supply chains, factory processes, sales strategies and other practices.

76% of CGMA designation holders globally said they now see more focus on reputational risk in their industries and cited three main reasons for the trend:

  • market demand for more transparency
  • reputational failure at a leading organisation or competitor
  • the rise in social media.

Globally 65% of CGMA designation holders surveyed said their organisations often or always consider the financial implications of reputational risk when making decisions. And almost half (44 per cent), said their organisations have rejected projects that made financial sense because the reputational risks were too great.

“Reputation might not be on the balance sheet, but it is one of the most important assets that companies have,” said James R. Blake, CPA, CGMA, CFO of Morey's Piers in New Jersey.

“In an age where reputation can be wrecked at the speed of a Tweet, finance teams increasingly have to understand that reputation lost in an instant can have a long tail in affecting the company’s future. That requires a broader understanding of the business environment so that such risks can be appropriately assessed.”

Tanya Barman, Head of Ethics at CIMA said:

“Organisations are increasingly recognising the need to take reputational risks very seriously if potential crises are not to turn into catastrophes. After all, nearly a quarter of businesses surveyed admitted to experiencing reputational failure in the past and the widespread use of the internet and social media casts a harsher spotlight than before. However, what is very worrying is the revelation that businesses still appear to be struggling with how they go about managing non-financial reporting in this area.

“In order to be fully protected, it is vital for finance directors and leaders to start moving away from focusing primarily on the short term and to begin collecting, reporting and monitoring reputational risk information. This will not only enable them to performance manage an important aspect of their business, but will also be crucial for long term sustainability and helping to maximise opportunities and to minimise risk.”

The AICPA and CIMA conducted the survey from 9 July through 15 July , receiving responses from over 1,300 CGMA designation holders in 61 countries.

For more information about the survey, please contact:

Jonathan B. Cox
AICPA media relations

Hannah Mackenzie
Four Colman Getty
T: 020 3697 4270

Claire Grewer
Profile and Communications
T. 020 8849 2300