Minority borrowing hits 14-year low

The share of mortgages lent to minority borrowers has fallen to at least a 14-year low, according to federal data.

Minority borrowers’ share of the mortgage market has been shrinking ever since the collapse of subprime lending, and they continued to lose ground to white borrowers through 2013, according to Bloomberg News.

Minorities tend to have both less savings and lower credit scores than whites, and advocates say that they have been hit hardest by tight-fisted lending policies. And those fair-lending advocates and civil-rights groups are now urging the government to change how creditworthiness is determined to give blacks and Hispanics a better shot at buying a home.

“These numbers are a wake-up call that the housing market is a major driver of the economy and it can’t be a vibrant market when so many new households are excluded from it,” Jim Carr, a former Fannie Mae executive who is now a scholar at the Opportunity Agenda, a New York-based organization that works on racial equity issues, told Bloomber News. [Bloomberg News] – Christopher Cameron

RBA asked to explain backflip on lending risks

  • Former Fed governor warns RBA over house price tools

Reserve Bank of Australia officials will be hauled in front of the Senates economics committee for a special hearing on Thursday to explain their backflip on the risks associated with the housing boom and the need to put brakes on investment lending.

Committee chairman Sam Dastyari told The Australian Financial Review on Sunday he was concerned about the unanticipated consequences of the Reserve Bankss view-change on the sustainability of the housing boom and whether it needed to interfere with bank lending.

Another member of the committee, Nationals Senator Matthew Canavan, who previously worked as an economist at the Productivity Commission, shares Senator Dastyaris concerns.

Macroprudential tools have the potential [for] macro-sized errors, Senator Canavan said. More than $200billion a year is lent for housing so even small misjudgements have the potential to do large harm.

I dont think a clear case has been made yet for macro-prudential action in Australia and the Reserve Bank seem to have had more self-doubt on this issue than Saint Augustine.

The Financial Review understands the Reserve Banks deputy governor Philip Lowe has been invited to appear before the committee.

Senator Dastyari said, Just two years ago the Reserve Bank was producing papers ruling out so-called macro-prudential tools. Glenn Stevens has even called them a fad.

The public needs confidence these tools wont have unintended consequences: when Labor axed negative gearing in 1985 there was an immediate unintended impact on rental prices.

After cutting its cash rate to a crisis low of 2.5per cent in August 2013, RBA officials signalled they were comfortable with the double-digit house price growth. RBA assistant governor Malcolm Edey argued, We shouldnt be rushing to reach for the bubble shy;terminology [which could be] unrealistically alarmist.

But after a year of housing credit and house prices climbing at, respectively, more than two and three times the rate of household income growth, and the share of speculative investment lending exceeding records set in the early 2000s, the RBA has shifted its rhetoric and now concedes it may have to throw sand in the wheels of lending.

Last week the Reserve Banks shy;financial stability review declared the composition of housing and mortgage markets is becoming unbalanced and revealed that it was in discussions with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority about additional steps thatmight be taken to reinforce sound lending practices, particularly for lending to investors. On Friday the Reserve Bank also published new data showing Australias internationally elevated household debt to disposable income ratio has risen from 145per cent in June 2012 to 151per cent in June 2014 the highest it has been since March 2008.

Senator Dastyari is concerned the RBA could unwittingly exacerbate housing supply shortages given investors provide substantial funding for newly constructed dwellings.

You cant just tackle housing issues by simply looking at demand, he said.

There is a well documented supply-side problem that was identified a decade ago by the 2003 prime ministers home ownership task force report, but this government is doing nothing about it. According to the ABS our population will likely increase from 24 million people to 38 million by 2050, Mr Dastyari said. This means we may have to build six to seven million new homes to accommodate 14 million extra people. We need some assurances from the Reserve Bank that more stringent rules for lending wont just cripple investment in newly built supply and thereby drive up rents.

In 2004 the RBA said constraints on building new homes were not causing affordability problems and that house prices were mainly driven by demand-side factors like interest rates and incomes. It has since changed its tune on this subject and is now an advocate of reducing supply-side rigidities.

Senator Canavan says we need to think deeply and tread softly in this area with parliament examining the merits of such action every step of the way. Hesaid there was little parliamentary oversight of many major decisions made by the RBA outside its core monetary policy mandate, citing the $300 billion plus bank bail-out program known as the Committed Liquidity Facility.

The shadow minister for housing, Senator Jan McLucas, said she was worried about housing dynamics in Sydney and Melbourne and wanted to hear the Reserve Bank explain its solutions to these pressing problems.

Patterson-UTI Energy Announces Agreement to Acquire Texas-Based Pressure …

HOUSTON, Sept. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ –PATTERSON-UTI ENERGY, INC. (NASDAQ: PTEN) today announced that one of its subsidiaries has entered into an agreement to acquire the Texas-based pressure pumping assets of a privately held company. The acquisition includes 143,250 horsepower of hydraulic fracturing equipment, which was manufactured in 2011 and 2012, and provides Patterson-UTI with two additional bases of operations and employees to support customer activity in the Eagle Ford and Haynesville shale plays. The pending transaction, which is expected to close within 90 days, is subject to customary closing conditions and receipt of required third party consents, and is subject to expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.

Andy Hendricks, Patterson-UTIs Chief Executive Officer, stated, This equipment has not been heavily operated since it was introduced to the market at a time of reduced demand for pressure pumping services. We believe the assets to be well-maintained, in very good condition and in line with our high standards.

Mr. Hendricks added, Upon completion of this transaction and after delivery of the previously announced new equipment currently on order, we will have more than one million horsepower of fracturing capacity.

Based upon published rig counts, nearly 50% of the rigs currently drilling horizontal wells in the United States are located in Texas. The acquired assets will supplement Patterson-UTIs existing Texas-based pressure pumping operations in the Permian Basin, the Eagle Ford shale of South Texas, the Barnett shale of North Texas and the Haynesville shale of East Texas and Louisiana. Patterson-UTI also has a widespread pressure pumping presence in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.

About Patterson-UTI

Patterson-UTI Energy, Inc. subsidiaries provide onshore contract drilling and pressure pumping services to exploration and production companies in North America. Patterson-UTI Drilling Company LLC and its subsidiaries operate land-based drilling rigs in oil and natural gas producing regions of the continental United States, Alaska, and western and northern Canada. Universal Pressure Pumping, Inc. and Universal Well Services, Inc. provide pressure pumping services primarily in Texas and the Appalachian region.

Location information about the Companys drilling rigs and their individual inventories is available through the Companys website at www.patenergy.com.

Statements made in this press release which state the Companys or managements intentions, beliefs, expectations or predictions for the future are forward-looking statements. It is important to note that actual results could differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to, deterioration of global economic conditions, declines in customer spending and in oil and natural gas prices that could adversely affect demand for the Companys services, and their associated effect on rates, utilization, margins and planned capital expenditures, excess availability of land drilling rigs and pressure pumping equipment, including as a result of reactivation or construction, adverse industry conditions, adverse credit and equity market conditions, difficulty in integrating acquisitions, shortages of labor, equipment, supplies and materials, supplier issues, weather, loss of key customers, liabilities from operations, changes in technology and efficiencies, governmental regulation and ability to retain management and field personnel. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements is contained from time to time in the Companys SEC filings, which may be obtained by contacting the Company or the SEC. These filings are also available through the Companys web site at http://www.patenergy.com or through the SECs Electronic Data Gathering and Analysis Retrieval System (EDGAR) at http://www.sec.gov. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement.

SOURCE PATTERSON-UTI ENERGY, INC.

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Is lending getting too hot in Nashville? Civic Bank execs weigh in

As Nashville continues to attract out-of-market banks, several bankers have pointed to the impact increased competition in the banking space has on lending. One question that continues to come up: Can the Nashville economy sustain its number of banks?

When looking solely at deposits, there are 65 banks in Nashville. But that doesn’t give the full picture, as other banks doing business here aren’t collecting deposits and instead are operating loan offices (for example, ServisFirst out of Birmingham and PNC Bank).

I caught up with Bob Perry, the outgoing president and CEO of Civic Bank Trust, and his replacement Sarah Meyerrose last week to discuss the transition of leadership at the bank. We also touched on the lending environment. Both Perry and Meyerrose say the Nashville market is strong market to be in, but caution that bankers need to remain disciplined.

“Nashville is such a hot market,” said Meyerrose. “There’s an appetite that has not been satiated yet for places to live, especially in the core of the city … I don’t think the Nashville market is necessarily overheated. But bankers are fueling some growth that needs to be more carefully considered.”

The low interest rate environment puts banks in a tough position, Perry said. We’ve previously reported that when there are bankable deals in the market, multiple lenders are going after those loans, effectively driving the interest rate down even more.

Perry says in those situations bankers may be taking on additional risk when competing to sign a loan, not because a lender may default, but because interest rates will eventually go back up.

The $300 billion question: How should we budget for federal lending?

Lending programs create special challenges for federal budgeting. So special, in fact, that the Congressional Budget Office estimatestheir budget effects two different ways. According to official budget rules, taxpayers will earn more than $200 billion over the next decade from new student loans, mortgage guarantees, and the Export-Import Bank. According to an alternative that CBO favors, taxpayers will lose more than $100 billion.

Those competing estimates pose a $300 billion question: Which budgeting approach is best?

As I document in anew reportandpolicy brief, the answer is neither one. Each approach tells only part of the story. Congress would be better served by a new approach that fairly reflects all the fiscal effects of lending.

Compared with what?

If lending programs perform as CBO expects, they will bring in new money that the government can use to reduce the deficit, increase spending, or cut taxes. In that sense, taxpayers may come out more than $200 billion ahead.

But these programs do not fully compensate taxpayers for their financial risk. If the government took the same risk by making loans and guarantees at fair market rates–perhaps by investing in publicly traded bonds–taxpayers would make much more. Taxpayers are subsidizing the students, homeowners, and companies that borrow through these programs. In that sense, taxpayers come out more than $100 billion behind.

The same issue can arise in personal life. Suppose your aunt asks for a $10,000 loan to start a business. You’ve got exactly that much in a government bond fund earning 2.5 percent, and she offers to pay 5 percent. She’s got a good head for business, so the risk of default is very low; realistically you expect a 4 percent annual return.

The loan sounds like a winner, right? Her 4 percent beats the bond fund’s 2.5 percent, if you can handle the risk. But there’s one other thing: your brother-in-law, equally good at business, would like a similar loan, and he’s willing to pay 6 percent, with an expected net of 5 percent.

Now the loan to your aunt sounds like a loser. Your brother-in-law’s 5 percent beats her 4 percent. You might still prefer to lend to her, but you would come out behind in financial terms.

The competing CBO estimates reflect this dichotomy. One approach compares the financial returns of lending with doing nothing (the $200 billion gain in CBO’s case, 4 percent versus 2.5 percent in yours). The other compares the returns with taking similar risks and being fully compensated (the $100 billion loss in CBO’s case, 4 percent versus 5 percent in yours).

Both comparisons provide useful information. If you want to predict the government’s future fiscal condition, you should compare the financial returns of lending with doing nothing. If you want to measure the subsidies given to borrowers, you should compare returns with the fair market alternative.

When you discuss your aunt’s proposal with your spouse, you would be wise to mention not only the potential financial gain (“4 percent is better than 2.5 percent”) but the subsidy to your aunt (“4 percent is less than the 5 percent your brother would pay”). Only then can you have an open discussion of your family’s financial priorities.

Today’s approaches

The same information is necessary for an open discussion of federal budgeting. But official budget rules, created by the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (FCRA), require CBO to use just the first approach in its budget analyses. Official estimates thus measure the fiscal effects of lending, not the subsidies provided to borrowers. CBO rightly believes, however, that policy deliberations are incomplete without measuring the subsidies, which CBO calculates separately using an approach known as fair value.

Policy analysts have vigorously debated the pros and cons of FCRA and fair value for years. Neither side has scored a decisive win for a simple reason: both approaches are incomplete. Fair value measures subsidies well, but tells us nothing about fiscal effects; this is its missing-money problem. FCRA measures lifetime fiscal effects well, but tells us nothing about subsidies.

By recording expected fiscal gains the moment a loan is made, moreover, FCRA makes lending appear to be a magic money machine. Lending may pay off over time, but the gains do not happen the moment the loan’s ink is dry. Like any lender, the government must be patient to earn those returns. It must hold the loan, perhaps for many years, and bear the associated financial risk.

A better approach

For those reasons, I believe we should replace both approaches with a more accurate budgeting method, which I callexpected returns. As thereportandbriefdescribe, the expected-returns approach forecasts the fiscal effects of a loan by projecting the government’s expected returns year by year, rather than collapsing them into a single value at the time the loan is made, as both FCRA and fair value do.

Expected returns accurately tracks the fiscal effects of lending over time, thus avoiding both fair value’s missing-money problem and FCRA’s magic-money-machine problem. It also provides a natural framework for reporting the fiscal effects of lending and the subsidies to borrowers. Expected returns would give policymakers and the public a more accurate assessment of federal lending than either of the approaches we use now.

Waterstone Mortgage Deploying Vantage Productions CRM System to Enable …

Red Bank, NJ and Pewaukee, WI (PRWEB) September 24, 2014

Vantage Production, LLC, a leading innovator in customer relationship management (CRM), marketing, sales and content solutions, announced that Waterstone Mortgage Corporation will deploy the Vantage Integrated ProductionSM (VIP) CRM solution system-wide.

Waterstone Mortgage is gearing up for our next phase of growth by providing our loan officers with the tools they need to excel while providing the business intelligence and controls to run our business soundly, said Waterstone Mortgage Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Tom Knapp. With VIP, we have the ability to integrate and leverage our data throughout our infrastructure, which is central to achieving our growth objectives.

Waterstone Mortgage was founded in 2000 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin-based WaterStone Bank. The mortgage company has branches in 17 states and has the ability to lend in 33 states. In 2014, the Business Journal of Milwaukee ranked Waterstone Mortgage as southeastern Wisconsins largest mortgage lender for the fifth year in a row, with more than $1.8 billion in annual origination volume.

When Waterstone Mortgage elected to pursue a centralized approach to CRM, Knapps team conducted extensive due diligence to find a system with the sophistication and the control they required. The company searched for a solution that could automate marketing campaigns and generate sales proposals with loan options that borrowers are eligible for and that meet their financial goals. Presentations needed to be fully compliant, clearly presented and consistent, regardless of the location or platform in which borrowers applied. With VIP, Waterstone Mortgage will benefit from operational efficiencies and the implementation of best practices across our branch network through standardized technologies and tools, Knapp explained. We are looking forward to taking our online origination capabilities to the next level with VIPs new Vantage Retail Sites SM.

Knapp noted that until now, Waterstone Mortgage had been using multiple software products for different aspects of its sales and marketing processes, but understood it had to integrate in order to support its growth plan. It is our goal to build best practices across our entire branch network through integrated technologies and tools, he said.

Vantage Production CEO Paul Zoukis observed that in the current business environment, being both competitive and compliant is the challenge and ultimate goal for lenders of all sizes. If you dont have substantial marketing and compliance resources, you run the risk of working at a significant disadvantage, said Zoukis. We are delighted to provide everything that Waterstone Mortgage needs to grow originations and continue to recruit top producers. Were looking forward to helping them achieve their goal of becoming a leading lender nationwide.

About Vantage Production
Vantage Production, LLC provides advanced CRM systems, compliant automated marketing and sales solutions, compelling content, and professional development programs for the mortgage industry. With solutions tailored to the requirements of both enterprise lenders and loan officers, Vantage Production provides marketing tools for more than 400 leading lenders and tens of thousands of individual subscribers. For more information, visit http://www.VantageProduction.com.

About Waterstone Mortgage Corporation

Waterstone Mortgage Corporation is an innovative, strong and secure mortgage lending
company that has maintained a reputation for exceptional service and competitive mortgage
financing. Since its inception in 2000, Waterstone Mortgage has grown to nearly 600 employees in 17 states. Headquartered in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, Waterstone Mortgage is a wholly owned subsidiary of WaterStone Bank SSB (NASDAQ: WSBF) with assets of more than $1.8 billion.

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/09/prweb12186369.htm.

Weak euro zone lending data underscores need for ECB stimulus

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Lending to euro zone households and companies contracted for the 28th month in a row in August, though at a slower pace, putting a keener spotlight on European Central Bank efforts to get credit flowing again.

Euro zone banks, particularly in the crisis-stricken countries, have tightened up on lending as they adapt to tougher capital requirements and undergo health checks, while companies are holding back on investments, unsure of the future.

The euro zone economy ground to a halt in the second quarter and with inflation in what ECB President Mario Draghi has called the danger zone below 1 percent for almost a year now, the ECB saw the need to add new stimulus steps in June and September.

The ECB has now started to offer banks four-year loans at ultra-cheap rates and plans to buy asset-backed securities and covered bonds from October to lighten the weight on banks balance sheets and entice them to lend.

But economists in a Reuters poll are skeptical about whether the plan will work, saying bank lending to private euro zone businesses needed to grow at a 3-percent annual rate on a sustained basis to stir inflation.

August lending rates are nowhere near such levels.

In August, loans to the private sector continued to fall, down 1.5 percent from the same month a year earlier after a contraction of 1.6 percent in July, ECB data showed on Thursday. Private sector loans have not grown since April 2012.

It remains questionable as to how much all the liquidity measures announced by the ECB will encourage banks to lift their lending, IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer said.

…it is also questionable how much businesses demand for credit will pick up while the economic and political outlook looks so uncertain, he said.

WEAK LENDING IN IRELAND

Draghi told Lithuanian business daily Verslo Zinios in an interview published on Thursday a continued weakness in credit growth was likely to curb the euro zone recovery.

Euro zone companies rely mainly on bank funding rather than capital markets, which is why it is so crucial to fix lingering problems in the sector.

For that purpose, the ECB is putting the blocs top banks through a thorough review of their balance sheets to weed out bad loans, update collateral valuations and adjust capital.

The picture varies across the euro zone. While lending to companies in Ireland fell at an annual rate of 11.8 percent in August – the fastest decline in three years – and 8.8 percent in Spain, it rose in Finland, Germany and France.

Euro zone M3 money supply – a more general measure of cash in the economy – grew at an annual pace of 2.0 percent in August, up from 1.8 percent in July.

(Editing by Louise Ireland/Ruth Pitchford)

Budget Tips for Foreign Students in the US

Spending a semester or more as a foreign exchange or international student is the trip of a lifetime. It’s a chance for a teen or young adult to experience life away from parents and home — possibly for the first time — while being completely immersed in a new culture.  

Perhaps that’s why the 2012-2013 school year had a record number of foreign college students traveling to the US for their studies. According to the Institute of International Education, nearly 820,000 foreign students enrolled in US colleges and universities during that time, an increase of 7% over the year before. Nearly half of those students traveled from China, India and South Korea. At the high school level, more than 30,000 students traveled to the US for a semester or year exchange, with the most students coming from Germany, China and Brazil.

While studying abroad is a fantastic way to gain experience about the world and yourself, it can also be difficult, lonely or confusing. If you are planning to host a foreign exchange student, or you yourself are traveling to the US to attend high school or college, be prepared to make the experience a positive one.

Prepare in Advance

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a year (or more) abroad difficult. It’s hard to forget to enroll in school, make transportation and living arrangements and acquire a student visa before heading out on exchange, but other things are easier to overlook.  

  • If you take a prescription medicine regularly, bring enough with you to last for at least a month or two. Better to have the medication you need (at the price youre accustomed to paying for it) than risk needing pricey, repeated refills in the US.
  • Be aware that there is a good chance your cell phone will not work in the US, and you’ll probably want a local phone number anyway. A pay-as-you-go US phone plan and an inexpensive phone is the best solution. If your phone does work, you may incur huge charges for using it outside of your home country.
  • Bring a few voltage adapters for your electronic appliances.
  • Check with your home bank regarding fees or restrictions when accessing your account from the US. Check out credit cards from your home country that offer little to no foreign transaction fees when used abroad. This could save you a fair amount of money over the course of a year.
  • Unless youre studying in the heart of a dense, major city like New York or Chicago, chances are youll need a fair amount of money for transportation. Students in Los Angeles particularly should factor in the cost of renting a car, taking trains and even lending gas money to new friends. 

Watch Your Spending

The desire to buy a whole new wardrobe, souvenirs or new gadgets might be strong once you arrive in the US, especially if the currency exchange rate works in your favor, or you are coming from a country where popular teen and young adult fashions are hard to find. While you’ll want to buy clothing that helps you fit in with your new school and friends, resist the temptation to go overboard.

Mortgage lending limits come into force in effort to tame home loans market

The first limits on mortgage lending in decades come into force this week as the Bank of England attempts to take some of the heat out of the home loan market.

The restrictions on lenders come into force as official data is expected to cast economic growth since 2012 in a stronger light, which will add to deliberations in Threadneedle Street over the timing of an interest rate increase. .

When Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, announced the caps on mortgage lending in June he acknowledged they would not have an immediate impact on house prices. But they are regarded as significant because they illustrate a bolder approach by policymakers in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis.

Lenders are to be prevented from allocating more than 15% of new residential mortgages to individuals borrowing four and a half times their income or greater. The limit, the policymakers have acknowledged, will only have an impact if house prices rise more than 20% between now and early 2017.

The restriction, imposed from Wednesday 1 October, is being introduced as data shows a stalling in house price growth. Hometrack said last week that house prices had not gone up between August and September for the first time since January last year.

The Financial Policy Committee arm of the Bank – set up by the coalition to spot the next crisis – announced the intervention in June and will publish its latest view on the risks in the financial system this week.

Economists are awaiting that assessment and also anticipating that data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday will paint a rosier picture of the economy from 2012 onwards than previously thought.

The ONS has already published revised data for the period between 2008 and 2012, which showed the downturn was neither as deep nor long as initially estimated. The economy shrank by 6% between 2008 and 2009, less than the 7.2% contraction calculated earlier. The revisions also showed GDP returned to its pre-crisis peak in the third quarter of 2013, and not the second quarter of 2014 as estimated previously.

However, the downturn remained the deepest since ONS records began in 1948.

“Substantially revised GDP data are set to paint the UK’s recent economic performance in a more favourable light,” said Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight. “It has already been reported that the 2008/9 downturn was less severe and the recovery up until 2012 was better than previously reported. There seems a decent chance that growth in 2013 and 2014 so far could be revised up as well, albeit modestly.”

Victoria Clarke, economist at Investec, said the revisions could have implications for the Bank of England and interest rates, which have been on hold at 0.5% since March 2009. She said: “If the path of the recent downturn looks less severe and the recovery stronger, a case could be made for a less softly softly approach to rate rises when the [Bank’s] Monetary Policy Committee does begin to hike.”

Clarke said revisions which push up the GDP level significantly in recent years could mean that estimates of spare capacity in the economy would also be brought down, bringing a rate rise closer. “That could make an ‘on hold’ decision for rates for much longer a more difficult sell,” she said.

Despite the revisions dating back to 1997, which require the ONS to estimate the economic contribution of illegal activities such as drugs and prostitution, economists are predicting growth in the second quarter of 2014 to remain unrevised at 0.8% on a quarterly basis, and 3.2% annually.

Today’s Leading-Edge CFOs Not Confined to Just Large Companies, New …

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) at large organizations have undergone a profound transformation over the past decade, assuming more strategic responsibilities in addition to their traditional finance and accounting tasks. Now it appears that mid-market company CFOs are doing the same, a new survey posits.

These leading-edge CFOs are being called upon to carefully direct technology investments towards systems that enhance budgeting and forecasting, as well as back-office processes such as account reconciliation and account analysis. Just like their counterparts in larger organizations, CFOs at middle-market companies are increasingly being viewed as agents of change, according to the survey of more than two hundred middle-market senior executives from diverse industry sectors.

The survey, conducted by the online publication Middle-Market Executiveand sponsored by finance controls and automation software leader BlackLine, underscores the growing sophistication of CFOs at middle-market companies. More than 60 percent of survey respondents said their accounting and finance professionals are in the process of strengthening their change management skills to address the functions expanding responsibilities and priorities.

Driving the transformation of finance is the need for middle-market companies to simplify decision-making processes, given the competitive necessities of speed and agility in todays global marketplacenot to mention the dizzying pace of business. More than two-thirds of respondents cited efforts by their finance organizations to improve the access and assessment of enterprise data for use by line-of-business (LOB) decision-makers. Three-quarters of the executives further stated that faster access to this information would assist more assured strategic decisions, informing, for example, on when to seize a particular business opportunity or rapidly alter course.

The survey also noted obstacles impeding this quest at many middle-market companieschiefly scant resources and shrinking financial teams. Nearly one-third of respondents said that limited finance resources and personnel had prevented the adoption of new technology tools. But for the most part, the survey indicates significant progress in the flow of information to business decision-makers, as middle-market CFOs assume more strategic responsibility to invest in desirable technology solutions.

Key survey findings include:

  • The top processes that middle-market companies are automating are budgeting and forecasting and the period-end close, cited by more than fifty percent of respondents.
  • More than one-third of middle-market companies are currently automating processes for account reconciliation, account analysis and journal entry allocations.
  • More than half the respondents cited Cloud-based applications as helping their organizations reduce cost and the time needed to facilitate faster and more efficient enterprise data analysis and assessment.

The import of the survey is that just like at large enterprises, the CFO in middle-market companies is riding hard on strategic technology investments that improve decision-making around budgeting, forecasting and the period-end financial close, said Jack Sweeney, editor-in-chief at Middle-Market Executive. Such organizations see value in the adoption of new tools, despite limited financial resources.

Click here to download a complimentary copy of the complete survey and white paper featuring a comprehensive Qamp;A with BlackLine client Atlas Air Worldwide on how technology is impacting the companys accounting and finance organizations.

About BlackLine
BlackLine is the leader in Enhanced Finance Controls and Automation software and the only provider today offering a completely integrated cloud platformbuilt from a single code base that supports the entire record-to-report process, as well as a host of other key accounting and financial processes. BlackLines Finance Controls and Automation Platform increases business efficiency and visibility, while ensuring the highest degree of balance sheet integrity.

Delivered through a scalable and highly secure cloud model, BlackLine empowers more than 900 global companies to reduce the time and resources required to execute month-end closing with unparalleled accuracy, fueling confidence throughout the entire accounting cycle. With more than 150,000 users in over 100 countries, BlackLine complements existing Corporate Performance Management (CPM), Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.

Although BlackLine is ERP-agnostic, the BlackLine Financial Close Suite for SAP Solutions is an SAP-endorsed business solution joining the ranks of fewer than 40 other software offerings globally that are endorsed by the enterprise application software leader. BlackLine also is an SAP Gold Partner, Oracle Gold Partner and participates in the partner programs of NetSuite and several other ERP providers.

Company headquarters are in Los Angeles, with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, London, Melbourne, New York City and Sydney. For more information, please visit www.blackline.com.

Media Contact:
Kimberly Uberti
Director of Corporate Communications
BlackLine Systems
kimberly.uberti@blackline.com

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SOURCE BlackLine Systems

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