Surveys executed before and all through the pandemic demonstrate the coronavirus disaster may well be reshaping the job of the CFO, with senior finance executives shifting their concentration to crafting strategy and producing business enterprise price.
CFO Study (section of Argyle Advisory and Study Products and services) and Grant Thornton surveyed 631 CFOs and other senior finance executives in February, then adopted up with a study of 174 CFOs and senior finance executives in May perhaps, to gauge the results of the COVID-19 upheaval.
Other than the shifting concentration of CFOs, the surveys revealed widescale delays for innovation initiatives, a renewed appreciation for business enterprise strategy abilities, cybersecurity cost increases, and adore for highly developed analytics and artificial intelligence.
Roles and Tasks
The February and May perhaps surveys showed that the job of the CFO shifted when the pandemic hit. In equally surveys, the executives were questioned how substantially of CFOs’ time would be used in these four roles: strategist (crafting corporate strategy) alter agent (producing business enterprise price) producer (standardizing and automating transactional procedures) and guardian (standardizing manage and compliance procedures).
In February, the study respondents documented that CFOs’ time was divided reasonably similarly throughout the four roles. But by May perhaps that equilibrium had shifted in reaction to the COVID-19 disaster: strategist and alter agent roles were getting a lot more of CFOs’ time as opposed with the producer and guardian roles.
Regardless of the obvious shift to a lot more ahead-seeking responsibilities, the coronavirus forced a significant bulk of CFOs to put off or alter their plans for innovation initiatives. 8 out of 10 surveyed finance executives had delayed or reshaped innovation initiatives in May perhaps. Sixty-two percent of the respondents documented that the COVID-19 disaster had delayed their transformational initiatives while 19% stated the disaster had reshaped their initiatives and they were pursuing a unique tactic. The remaining 19% documented that the disaster had accelerated transformation initiatives.
Delaying and reshaping innovation initiatives does not mean they are extinguished. Extra than 90% of 335 finance industry experts polled all through a Grant Thornton webinar in June stated they prepared to keep on to innovate, even all through the COVID-19 downturn.
Automation Stays the Program
Highly developed analytics and artificial intelligence were favored classes of automation technological know-how in equally the February and May perhaps surveys.
A bulk of the executives in the May perhaps study documented that their plans for implementing automation systems had not been delayed by the pandemic. Extra executives slated highly developed analytics for accelerated implementation (29%) than they did any other group of technological know-how. Synthetic intelligence was a shut second at 23%.
The February study had questioned executives when they expected to put into practice a listing of specified automation systems. Most respondents (55%) had previously applied highly developed analytics. Optical character recognition was the second-most-previously-applied automation technological know-how, at 40%. Synthetic intelligence had the best share of prepared implementations within twelve months (33%), adopted by robotic method automation (thirty%).
In a December 2019 economic downturn preparedness study by Grant Thornton, 70% of respondents documented plans to improve their electronic investments in innovation/technological know-how, electronic transformation, and/or cybersecurity, even amid developing indicators of a slowdown. In the February CFO study, about 70% of the senior finance executives documented they had either applied essential emerging systems or they would be implementing them within two decades.
When questioned in May perhaps about how charges would alter around the next yr because of COVID-19, cybersecurity had the best share of executives projecting increases (forty four%) adopted by IT/electronic transformation (40%), training and advancement (22%), operations (21%), and promoting (19%). Not remarkably, the classes with the cheapest projections for cost increases were travel (4%), genuine estate (six%), recruiting (seven%), and workforce (seven%). Ninety percent of the executives projected their travel charges would decrease.
Appreciate for Company Method
Fitting with the locating of CFOs looking at them selves in a lot more strategic roles all through the pandemic, the finance executives surveyed held business enterprise strategy abilities in substantial regard.
They noticed business enterprise strategy as an critical skillset equally before and immediately after the onset of the pandemic. Functions administration abilities were approximately as valued as business enterprise strategy abilities in the pandemic disaster atmosphere. When finance executives were questioned which critical ability they had leveraged because of the coronavirus disaster, the most-cited remedy was business enterprise strategy, chosen by 34% of the executives, adopted by operations administration (29%). Knowledge analytics and innovation/entrepreneurship were tied as the 3rd-most-cited best abilities drawn on all through the pandemic, at 10%.
The February study questioned a linked query — what were the most critical skillsets respondents would like to build within their finance functionality? Knowledge analytics and business enterprise strategy were the most-cited responses, by 23% and 22% of the respondents, respectively, adopted by software advancement (17%) and purchaser knowledge administration (11%).
There is no doubt that business enterprise strategy advancement was not the only included duty for CFOs arising from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.
Among the the quick-phrase priorities and long lasting impacts of the pandemic, the executives in the May perhaps study independently detailed:
• minimized capex
• the possible to invest in a lot less-nicely-capitalized providers
• minimized dollars flow impacting credit card debt covenants
• source prioritization in the deal with of constrained offer chains and
• extensive-phrase implications of an more and more cellular workforce on office environment area, recruiting, and travel.
Most of those impacts will keep on to have a significant impact on what CFOs invest their time on in the coming months. Respondents stated they were looking at CFOs branching out into new spots of organizational leadership, these kinds of as main creation and procedures, controlling layoffs and shuttering operations, doing the job with business enterprise models to set up various producing resources, controlling distant workforces, partnering with the local community, and interacting with investors.
Within just the classic scope of finance, new spots of concentration for some finance chiefs incorporated acquisitions and divestitures, moves to maintain dollars and resources, coronavirus economic-influence types, expenditure danger, forecasting and budgeting, payments and dollars flow administration, danger mitigation, liquidity administration, profits advancement, and expense reduction. Paycheck Defense Application documentation and examination also appeared on the listing.
Among the the new spots of concentration within technological know-how leadership, finance executives detailed going all features to paperless, implementing function-from-dwelling systems, and overseeing IT and security.
And 1 executive detailed a-not-unfamiliar CFO job:
Keith Button is a freelance writer based mostly in Valley Cottage, N.Y.