By Morris Aron

There is need for a corporate culture shift to allow chief finance officers to participate more in strategic planning for companies as opposed to the current scenario where most such decisions are the exclusive right of chief executives.

This is the verdict of a report by audit firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the first finance benchmark survey in Kenya, launched yesterday.

According to the findings in which 51 companies participated, nearly 60 per cent of CFOs in the local corporate scene are condemned to the paperwork of paying expenses and preparing cheques as opposed to their counterparts in the developed financial markets.

"There is need for a new approach where CFOs play active roles in the strategic planning decisions in companies as best practises in the developed financial markets indicate," said Jeff Aludo, a director with PwC who headed the research team.

"Especially so when economic predictability is shaky and there is a new dispensation that requires more fiscal accountability."

In general, the report titled Perfect Balance found out that Kenyan firms lad behind in their finance operations due to the little investment companies put in for such systems as compared to their counterparts in the developed countries.

Local companies also invest less in talent in as far as remunerations are concerned for finance professionals.

But perhaps what is worrying most is that the best Kenyan firms on average take an average of between nine and twenty days to finalise reports between the dates of closing books of accounts and reporting monthly.

While the first ever finance benchmark report has painted the local finance operations dimly, there is every hope as Kenyan firms have shown tremendous improvements in the last couple of years in the wake of the global credit crunch.