Surveys performed in advance of and during the pandemic present the coronavirus crisis could be reshaping the purpose of the CFO, with senior finance executives shifting their concentrate to crafting strategy and producing company benefit.
CFO Analysis (component of Argyle Advisory and Analysis Providers) and Grant Thornton surveyed 631 CFOs and other senior finance executives in February, then followed up with a study of 174 CFOs and senior finance executives in May, to gauge the effects of the COVID-19 upheaval.
Other than the altering concentrate of CFOs, the surveys discovered widescale delays for innovation assignments, a renewed appreciation for company strategy expertise, cybersecurity cost raises, and like for highly developed analytics and synthetic intelligence.
Roles and Jobs
The February and May surveys confirmed that the purpose of the CFO shifted when the pandemic hit. In the two surveys, the executives ended up requested how considerably of CFOs’ time would be expended in these 4 roles: strategist (crafting corporate strategy) adjust agent (producing company benefit) producer (standardizing and automating transactional processes) and guardian (standardizing command and compliance processes).
In February, the study respondents reported that CFOs’ time was divided comparatively similarly throughout the 4 roles. But by May that equilibrium had shifted in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis: strategist and adjust agent roles ended up taking far more of CFOs’ time compared with the producer and guardian roles.
Inspite of the evident change to far more forward-looking jobs, the coronavirus forced a substantial majority of CFOs to place off or adjust their ideas for innovation assignments. Eight out of ten surveyed finance executives had delayed or reshaped innovation assignments in May. Sixty-two percent of the respondents reported that the COVID-19 crisis had delayed their transformational assignments whilst 19% claimed the crisis had reshaped their assignments and they ended up pursuing a distinctive solution. The remaining 19% reported that the crisis had accelerated transformation assignments.
Delaying and reshaping innovation assignments doesn’t imply they are extinguished. Far more than ninety% of 335 finance gurus polled during a Grant Thornton webinar in June claimed they planned to continue to innovate, even during the COVID-19 downturn.
Automation Stays the Course
Innovative analytics and synthetic intelligence ended up favored types of automation engineering in the two the February and May surveys.
A majority of the executives in the May study reported that their ideas for applying automation technologies had not been delayed by the pandemic. Far more executives slated highly developed analytics for accelerated implementation (29%) than they did any other class of engineering. Synthetic intelligence was a close second at 23%.
The February study had requested executives when they anticipated to apply a list of specified automation technologies. Most respondents (55%) had currently carried out highly developed analytics. Optical character recognition was the second-most-currently-carried out automation engineering, at forty%. Synthetic intelligence had the highest proportion of planned implementations within twelve months (33%), followed by robotic procedure automation (thirty%).
In a December 2019 economic downturn preparedness study by Grant Thornton, 70% of respondents reported ideas to boost their digital investments in innovation/engineering, digital transformation, and/or cybersecurity, even amid developing indications of a slowdown. In the February CFO study, about 70% of the senior finance executives reported they had both carried out crucial emerging technologies or they would be applying them within two years.
When requested in May about how charges would adjust above the future calendar year due to the fact of COVID-19, cybersecurity had the highest proportion of executives projecting raises (44%) followed by IT/digital transformation (forty%), training and advancement (22%), functions (21%), and advertising and marketing (19%). Not shockingly, the types with the least expensive projections for cost raises ended up travel (4%), authentic estate (six%), recruiting (seven%), and workforce (seven%). Ninety percent of the executives projected their travel charges would reduce.
Enjoy for Company Approach
Fitting with the locating of CFOs observing them selves in far more strategic roles during the pandemic, the finance executives surveyed held company strategy expertise in substantial regard.
They observed company strategy as an critical skillset the two in advance of and after the onset of the pandemic. Operations management expertise ended up just about as valued as company strategy expertise in the pandemic crisis natural environment. When finance executives ended up requested which critical talent they had leveraged due to the fact of the coronavirus crisis, the most-cited reply was company strategy, picked by 34% of the executives, followed by functions management (29%). Information analytics and innovation/entrepreneurship ended up tied as the third-most-cited major expertise drawn on during the pandemic, at ten%.
The February study requested a related concern — what ended up the most critical skillsets respondents would like to produce within their finance perform? Information analytics and company strategy ended up the most-cited solutions, by 23% and 22% of the respondents, respectively, followed by application advancement (17%) and shopper working experience management (eleven%).
There’s no question that company strategy advancement was not the only added obligation for CFOs arising from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.
Among the the quick-expression priorities and long lasting impacts of the pandemic, the executives in the May study separately shown:
• diminished capex
• the likely to obtain much less-properly-capitalized providers
• diminished hard cash move impacting personal debt covenants
• source prioritization in the confront of constrained supply chains and
• long-expression implications of an progressively mobile workforce on business house, recruiting, and travel.
Most of these impacts will continue to have a substantial influence on what CFOs devote their time on in the coming months. Respondents claimed they ended up observing CFOs branching out into new places of organizational management, this sort of as leading generation and processes, taking care of layoffs and shuttering functions, functioning with company units to establish multiple producing sources, taking care of distant workforces, partnering with the community, and interacting with investors.
Inside the traditional scope of finance, new places of concentrate for some finance chiefs involved acquisitions and divestitures, moves to maintain hard cash and sources, coronavirus monetary-influence versions, expenditure danger, forecasting and budgeting, payments and hard cash move management, danger mitigation, liquidity management, revenue advancement, and price reduction. Paycheck Protection Plan documentation and investigation also appeared on the list.
Among the the new places of concentrate within engineering management, finance executives shown shifting all functions to paperless, applying operate-from-home technologies, and overseeing IT and stability.
And 1 executive shown a-not-unfamiliar CFO purpose:
Keith Button is a freelance writer based in Valley Cottage, N.Y.