Nearly 75% of Finance Execs Predict Greater Involvement in Tech, Ops and Talent

By Jane Thier10.07.2019

CFOs and finance executives are heading to the forefront of companies to play a ever-prominent role in enterprise-wide business transformations in operations, technology and talent.

"CFOs have the opportunity to impact all areas of the business as they continue to evolve from stewards of the financial and accounting processes to advising on business strategy," said Gina Gutzeit of FTI Consulting's CFO Solutions practice. "This type of enhanced engagement across the enterprise will become standard practice and an integral part of the evolving CFO job description."

Nearly three-quarters of finance leaders said CFOs will play a larger role in their companies' operations, technology and talent acquisition in the coming years, a survey conducted by FTI Consulting and CFO Research found. The survey was conducted among 157 senior executives — including CFOs, finance directors, controllers and vice presidents — and at a variety of companies with revenues ranging from $100 million to more than $10 billion.

"The survey shows that the CFO and the finance team have the ability to impact many areas of the business," Gutzeit told CFO Dive. “This is driven by technology that can improve the pace of finance operations, while also allowing them to use the data that runs through finance systems to provide insights."

Credit: FTI Consulting

 

"Overall, CFOs need to be a better business partner to other C-suite leaders to drive enterprise performance and manage risk," Gutzeit said. "Finance should have a mindset of not just reporting results, but taking the next step in explaining how results could be improved if certain changes were made." 

The study confirms leading CFOs have a "high level of confidence in basic finance areas, so that they can then focus on being a transformation leader in their organizations," Gutzeit said. But with the blurring line between CFO and other strategy roles, what qualifications do new CFOs need to come in with to be successful?

It's crucial to know how technology is affecting a company's function, Gutzeit said. She suggests CFOs use existing technology investments "to get more out of what they already have." Not to be overlooked, CFOs should view data "as the foundation that everything else gets built on," Gutzeit said.

Operations

CFOs have the greatest ability to affect the future performance of an organization within the operations team, the survey shows.

About 88% of respondents say the CFO has a "substantial role in supporting operations performance across the enterprise."

More than 90% say their company's CFO either "currently identifies key areas of operational risk" or plans to begin doing so within two years.

“CFOs can also be transformation leaders in their organizations,” Gutzeit said. “[They can do this by] being first adopters of RPA for finance processes, and then motivating peers on how automation can help their functions.”

Technology

"Recent investments in technology have enabled [CFOs] to direct more attention to enterprise performance, particularly with all the data that the finance function captures for an organization," the report said.

"One way to do this is by using automation to replace simple, repeatable primary finance duties such as invoice processing, so those professionals can focus on other areas," said Gutzeit.


Credit: FTI Consulting

Among the findings:

  • 81% say their organization's CFO has a key role supporting technology strategy development across the enterprise.
  • 86% say they're getting involved in technology management by aligning stakeholders on important technology scoping and purchase decisions or plan to do so within two years.
  • 86% of CFOs say they are deepening their understanding of technology or plan to do so within two years.
  • 89% of those surveyed either have or are developing a strong analytics team within the finance function.
  • 81% of CFOs are collaborating or soon plan to collaborate with IT to leverage cloud, advanced analytics and automation solutions to increase finance's ability to provide insight to the business.

Talent

Finance leaders' role in driving talent development and retention is becoming increasingly significant.

About 71% say their CFO plays a key role in talent support across the enterprise, and 65% say their CFO will have a larger role in supporting the development of talent strategy.

Only 50% of the senior finance executives said their CFO identifies key areas of talent risk, while less than half (49%) support efforts to improve bench strength of key corporate functions, including finance. This indicates that more room exists to bring together talent management and the organization's finance function.

Reprinted with permission from CFO Dive, an industry publication operated by Industry Dive that reports on the latest news and developments in the CFO industry.