Surveys executed prior to and in the course of the pandemic display the coronavirus disaster could be reshaping the function of the CFO, with senior finance executives shifting their focus to crafting strategy and producing organization worth.
CFO Investigation (section of Argyle Advisory and Investigation Products and services) and Grant Thornton surveyed 631 CFOs and other senior finance executives in February, then adopted up with a survey of 174 CFOs and senior finance executives in May well, to gauge the consequences of the COVID-19 upheaval.
Apart from the changing focus of CFOs, the surveys exposed widescale delays for innovation assignments, a renewed appreciation for organization strategy capabilities, cybersecurity cost increases, and appreciate for highly developed analytics and artificial intelligence.
Roles and Jobs
The February and May well surveys showed that the function of the CFO shifted when the pandemic hit. In each surveys, the executives have been requested how significantly of CFOs’ time would be invested in these 4 roles: strategist (crafting corporate strategy) change agent (producing organization worth) producer (standardizing and automating transactional procedures) and guardian (standardizing handle and compliance procedures).
In February, the survey respondents described that CFOs’ time was divided fairly equally across the 4 roles. But by May well that harmony had shifted in response to the COVID-19 disaster: strategist and change agent roles have been having additional of CFOs’ time as opposed with the producer and guardian roles.
Even with the clear shift to additional forward-searching jobs, the coronavirus pressured a huge the vast majority of CFOs to set off or change their plans for innovation assignments. Eight out of ten surveyed finance executives had delayed or reshaped innovation assignments in May well. Sixty-two p.c of the respondents described that the COVID-19 disaster had delayed their transformational assignments when 19% reported the disaster had reshaped their assignments and they have been pursuing a distinct tactic. The remaining 19% described that the disaster had accelerated transformation assignments.
Delaying and reshaping innovation assignments doesn’t mean they are extinguished. Additional than ninety% of 335 finance experts polled in the course of a Grant Thornton webinar in June reported they planned to go on to innovate, even in the course of the COVID-19 downturn.
Automation Stays the Class
Innovative analytics and artificial intelligence have been favored classes of automation engineering in each the February and May well surveys.
A the vast majority of the executives in the May well survey described that their plans for employing automation technologies had not been delayed by the pandemic. Additional executives slated highly developed analytics for accelerated implementation (29%) than they did any other classification of engineering. Artificial intelligence was a close second at 23%.
The February survey had requested executives when they expected to put into action a record of specified automation technologies. Most respondents (55%) had currently executed highly developed analytics. Optical character recognition was the second-most-currently-executed automation engineering, at 40%. Artificial intelligence had the optimum proportion of planned implementations within just 12 months (33%), adopted by robotic method automation (thirty%).
In a December 2019 economic downturn preparedness survey by Grant Thornton, 70% of respondents described plans to enhance their electronic investments in innovation/engineering, electronic transformation, and/or cybersecurity, even amid developing indicators of a slowdown. In the February CFO survey, about 70% of the senior finance executives described they had either executed key emerging technologies or they would be employing them within just two years.
When requested in May well about how fees would change in excess of the future 12 months due to the fact of COVID-19, cybersecurity had the optimum proportion of executives projecting increases (44%) adopted by IT/electronic transformation (40%), education and enhancement (22%), functions (21%), and marketing (19%). Not surprisingly, the classes with the cheapest projections for cost increases have been journey (four%), genuine estate (6%), recruiting (seven%), and workforce (seven%). Ninety p.c of the executives projected their journey fees would minimize.
Like for Business Method
Fitting with the acquiring of CFOs viewing them selves in additional strategic roles in the course of the pandemic, the finance executives surveyed held organization strategy capabilities in large regard.
They observed organization strategy as an important skillset each prior to and soon after the onset of the pandemic. Functions administration capabilities have been practically as valued as organization strategy capabilities in the pandemic disaster natural environment. When finance executives have been requested which important talent they had leveraged due to the fact of the coronavirus disaster, the most-cited respond to was organization strategy, decided on by 34% of the executives, adopted by functions administration (29%). Knowledge analytics and innovation/entrepreneurship have been tied as the third-most-cited top rated capabilities drawn on in the course of the pandemic, at ten%.
The February survey requested a relevant dilemma — what have been the most important skillsets respondents would like to build within just their finance purpose? Knowledge analytics and organization strategy have been the most-cited responses, by 23% and 22% of the respondents, respectively, adopted by application enhancement (17%) and shopper working experience administration (11%).
There is no question that organization strategy enhancement was not the only added accountability for CFOs arising from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.
Among the the limited-time period priorities and lasting impacts of the pandemic, the executives in the May well survey independently detailed:
• lowered capex
• the potential to invest in much less-very well-capitalized providers
• lowered money flow impacting credit card debt covenants
• useful resource prioritization in the encounter of constrained provide chains and
• extensive-time period implications of an increasingly mobile workforce on business room, recruiting, and journey.
Most of people impacts will go on to have a huge affect on what CFOs spend their time on in the coming months. Respondents reported they have been viewing CFOs branching out into new parts of organizational leadership, this kind of as top output and procedures, managing layoffs and shuttering functions, performing with organization models to create several producing sources, managing distant workforces, partnering with the local community, and interacting with investors.
Inside of the common scope of finance, new parts of focus for some finance chiefs involved acquisitions and divestitures, moves to maintain money and sources, coronavirus economical-affect types, investment possibility, forecasting and budgeting, payments and money flow administration, possibility mitigation, liquidity administration, income enhancement, and price reduction. Paycheck Safety Plan documentation and assessment also appeared on the record.
Among the the new parts of focus within just engineering leadership, finance executives detailed relocating all functions to paperless, employing get the job done-from-residence technologies, and overseeing IT and stability.
And a person govt detailed a-not-unfamiliar CFO function:
Keith Button is a freelance writer centered in Valley Cottage, N.Y.