What are the main concerns of CFOs going into 2023?, CFO News, ETCFO


What are the main concerns of CFOs going into 2023?

Three in four chief financial officers say they plan to increase budgets allocated to digital transformation projects across their department over the coming year. But the demand for skilled workers to mine insight from new data streams has left senior finance leaders embroiled in a war for talent that is keeping them awake at night.

New research from Tradeshift reveals the set of challenges financial leaders face as they grapple with an expanding role and a set of strategic responsibilities that were until recently outside the scope of the finance department. In one highlight from the research, almost half of CFOs (45 per cent) said that talent acquisition and retention was their chief worry for the rest of the year and beyond. Other top concerns included the increased cost of goods and services (42 per cent) and technology adoption (39 per cent).

Respondents were largely positive about their recent tech investments, but well over half (59 per cent) conceded they would have taken a different approach if they’d been able to predict the events of the last few years. This tension illustrates how CFOs are coming to terms with the sudden evolution of their roles and responsibilities brought about by the seismic events of the last few years.

CFOs are struggling to juggle shifting priorities. The largest number of CFOs (28 per cent) said they spent too much time on what has traditionally been a quintessential element of the job — finance function capabilities — while the largest number (35 per cent) also said they spent too little time on talent development.

CFOs say they think they’ve done an excellent job in general, but moving from efficiency to value creation is key. Nearly all CFOs (93 per cent) were at least satisfied with their companies’ finance function, with over a third (38 per cent) calling it outstanding. Despite this, 49 per cent of CFOs rated providing a more detailed vision of business cash and liquidity and 41 per cent rated automation of processes using intelligent automation as high priority areas for new tech investment.

Future-proofing the financial function will require three key skills. To reach the next level of value creation CFOs said they anticipated needing technical finance expertise (59 per cent), followed by data and technology savviness (50 per cent) and corporate strategy expertise (38 per cent).

Enterprises are lagging on onboarding the latest technology to help their departments do their jobs better and more efficiently. Only a third (35 per cent) of CFOs reported that their latest tech projects had reached the implementation stage or beyond, with the majority still in the planning or proof-of-concept stage.

CFOs lack the resources necessary to help their teams do their jobs better. For their teams to improve today, CFOs acknowledged they would need better data integration (56%), better training (48 per cent) and more advanced technology (42 per cent).

The vast majority of CFOs plan to increase budgets allocated to digital transformation projects within their department. More than one in three respondents (36%) said they planned to increase tech expenditure by more than 26 per cent, with one in five CFOs reporting increases above 50 per cent. Just 6 per cent of respondents planned to reduce investments in new tech.

Investment in technology is essential, but … CFOs placed a high priority on several technology investments, but they also conceded that their companies’ primary concerns regarding the adoption of new technology were many, including cost of implementation (46 per cent), ease of integration with an existing technical stack (41 per cent), and training or hiring employees who could make the best use of the technology (38 per cent).

CFOs say they feel their teams can handle tomorrow’s challenges but they face a squeeze on specialist talent. While the vast majority (88 per cent) of CFOs said they felt strongly or somewhat confident that their current team could deliver to meet evolving business demands, over a third (37 per cent) also said they lacked the internal expertise to properly analyse their financial data.

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