6 findings from FTI Consulting CFO survey
Evidently, it’s not easy to be a chief financial officer these days.
CFOs are wrestling with new challenges and growing responsibilities in shorter time frames as tenure decreases, according to findings from a new survey conducted by the office of the CFO solutions practice at FTI Consulting, in collaboration with Industry Dive.
In a survey of corporate finance executives, nearly half of the respondents expect the CFO at their company to have a tenure of less than five years. Experts said this trend points to increased job options for CFOs, but also potentially having less time to deliver high-impact value in their roles.
“This year’s survey results aligns to what we’re hearing from our CFO clients,” said Gina Gutzeit, leader of the office of the CFO solutions practice at FTI Consulting. “High-performing CFOs want to make an immediate impact, whether they are looking at their role in the long-term or short-term.”
The survey highlighted six other key insights about CFO priorities over the next year, including:
1. CFOs are optimizing workforce models and redefining office spaces. The survey respondents indicate that some remote workers will return to the office, with 59% anticipating a hybrid work model and 23% expecting to return to the office full time.
2. A finance talent shortage is causing CFOs to be more interested in outsourcing models for the back office, with the goal of better managing business volatility and having readily available talent at lower and more variable costs. Experience with working in a hybrid model for more than a year has made adoption for many, including mid-size organizations, less daunting.
3. Companies have significantly increased the adoption of cloud-based systems, with remote work triggering a reexamination of data security and cost mitigation. The survey showed that 67% of finance functions have implemented or are using cloud-based general ledgers, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise performance management (EPM) systems are also shifting to the cloud.
4. Delivering real-time insights persists as a significant financial planning and analysis (FP&A) gap. Nearly all (95%) of the survey respondents strongly agreed their CFO and finance functions perform accurate, real-time planning, reporting and data analysis. Yet nearly 30% of CFOs said delivering real-time information to make business decisions is a critical priority, and 50% said developing predictive analytics capabilities is a high priority.
5. Cybersecurity has moved up the CFO priority list. More than 70% of the surveyed finance executives are involved in their organization’s incident response plan. In third-party supplier risk, one of the highest areas of cybersecurity focus for CFOs, respondents showed that they are proactively implementing cyber risk-mitigation processes, as 76% of respondents assess cybersecurity risks of third-party suppliers during procurement.
6. CFOs are increasingly considering environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) initiatives. More than half (57%) of respondents noted that establishing and making progress toward ESG objectives was of “high” importance, with 18.9% noting it as being of “critical” importance. Top challenges and concerns were measuring return on investment for ESG initiatives, as well as sourcing, warehousing, analyzing and visualizing underlying ESG data.
“As we’ve witnessed the CFO role pivot to be an enterprise value creator, expectations have heightened to also be a change leader that must achieve lofty financial performance goals,” said David White, a senior managing director in the office of the CFO solutions practice at FTI Consulting. “However, amidst all the ‘traditional’ areas that CFOs must lead, there’s a new list of responsibilities and the added pressure of fostering culture and engagement that is amplified with a remote and virtual workforce.”
The complete survey report titled, “It’s A New World for CFOs: FTI Consulting CFO Survey Report 2021-2022,” can be found via this website.