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Big data a challenge in Singapore's corporate reporting: EY survey

SINGAPORE'S chief financial officers (CFOs) see the volume and pace of big data as a key challenge of today's corporate reporting environment, results of an annual EY survey showed.

The 2015 survey covered 1,000 CFOs in organisations with revenue greater than US$500 million across 25 countries, including 40 CFOs in Singapore. It reflects that 100 per cent of those surveyed in Singapore see big data as a key challenge over and above the complexity of the regulatory environment (globally, 58 per cent; Singapore, 58 per cent) and the complexity of local and international compliance requirements (globally, 53 per cent; Singapore, 43 per cent).

Chiang Joon-Arn, EY's EY Asia-Pacific financial accounting advisory services leader, noted: "The Singapore corporate environment where there is a huge amount of information on global benchmarks, approaches to and benefits of big data; coupled with national investments into infocomm technology as well as the fluency of our work force have created greater awareness among local CFOs on the use of big data.

"These translate into a more pressing desire and demand for Singapore CFOs to fully comprehend how best to leverage the benefits of data for both financial reporting and business operational needs."

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Results from the survey also show CFO confidence across all aspects of corporate reporting has fallen compared to the year before. Only 55 per cent are confident in the degree of compliance, compared with 84 per cent in 2014.

Also declining is the consistency in the application of key performance indicators (KPIs) - at 44 per cent, compared to 66 per cent in 2014. Less than half (45 per cent) feel confident in the clarity and relevance of messages, down from 67 per cent in 2014.

Singapore respondents, however, reported higher confidence levels in the degree of compliance (82 per cent), but are less confident in the consistency of the application of KPIs (38 per cent) and extent of benchmark reporting to peers (Singapore, 25 per cent; globally, 44 per cent).

Mr Chiang said: "The dynamics of operating in Singapore, especially the regulatory, taxation and enforcement regimes, which have less punitive outcome and less overbearing oversight, create a relatively more comfortable environment for Singapore respondents to operate in.

"Balanced against this, many key performance indicators or benchmarks are driven by American and European influences and may be more tailored to their needs, thus creating more uncertainty for local CFOs."

Seventy per cent of Singapore respondents indicated their corporate reporting as effective in securing the board's confidence, compared to just 48 per cent of the global respondents.

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