Surveys done in advance of and for the duration of the pandemic display the coronavirus crisis might be reshaping the purpose of the CFO, with senior finance executives shifting their target to crafting system and creating business worth.
CFO Investigate (part of Argyle Advisory and Investigate 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 well, to gauge the effects of the COVID-19 upheaval.
Other than the changing target of CFOs, the surveys unveiled widescale delays for innovation jobs, a renewed appreciation for business strategy capabilities, cybersecurity price improves, and like for innovative analytics and synthetic intelligence.
Roles and Tasks
The February and May well surveys showed that the purpose of the CFO shifted when the pandemic strike. In equally surveys, the executives ended up asked how substantially of CFOs’ time would be put in in these 4 roles: strategist (crafting corporate system) alter agent (creating business worth) producer (standardizing and automating transactional procedures) and guardian (standardizing command and compliance procedures).
In February, the study respondents documented that CFOs’ time was divided comparatively similarly across the 4 roles. But by May well that balance experienced shifted in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis: strategist and alter agent roles ended up having far more of CFOs’ time compared with the producer and guardian roles.
Irrespective of the evident change to far more forward-seeking jobs, the coronavirus forced a massive the greater part of CFOs to put off or alter their ideas for innovation jobs. 8 out of ten surveyed finance executives experienced delayed or reshaped innovation jobs in May well. Sixty-two p.c of the respondents documented that the COVID-19 crisis experienced delayed their transformational jobs even though 19% claimed the crisis experienced reshaped their jobs and they ended up pursuing a different strategy. The remaining 19% documented that the crisis experienced accelerated transformation jobs.
Delaying and reshaping innovation jobs does not imply they are extinguished. Much more than 90% of 335 finance industry experts polled for the duration of a Grant Thornton webinar in June claimed they planned to continue to innovate, even for the duration of the COVID-19 downturn.
Automation Stays the Program
Highly developed analytics and synthetic intelligence ended up favored categories of automation technological innovation in equally the February and May well surveys.
A the greater part of the executives in the May well study documented that their ideas for employing automation technologies experienced not been delayed by the pandemic. Much more executives slated innovative analytics for accelerated implementation (29%) than they did any other classification of technological innovation. Synthetic intelligence was a near 2nd at 23%.
The February study experienced asked executives when they envisioned to put into practice a list of specified automation technologies. Most respondents (fifty five%) experienced now applied innovative analytics. Optical character recognition was the 2nd-most-now-applied automation technological innovation, at 40%. Synthetic intelligence experienced the maximum proportion of planned implementations inside of twelve months (33%), followed by robotic procedure automation (thirty%).
In a December 2019 recession preparedness study by Grant Thornton, 70% of respondents documented ideas to improve their electronic investments in innovation/technological innovation, electronic transformation, and/or cybersecurity, even amid rising indicators of a slowdown. In the February CFO study, about 70% of the senior finance executives documented they experienced both applied critical rising technologies or they would be employing them inside of two many years.
When asked in May well about how charges would alter about the following year for the reason that of COVID-19, cybersecurity experienced the maximum proportion of executives projecting improves (forty four%) followed by IT/electronic transformation (40%), education and advancement (22%), operations (21%), and marketing (19%). Not remarkably, the categories with the cheapest projections for price improves ended up vacation (4%), true estate (six%), recruiting (7%), and workforce (7%). Ninety p.c of the executives projected their vacation charges would lessen.
Adore for Business System
Fitting with the obtaining of CFOs viewing themselves in far more strategic roles for the duration of the pandemic, the finance executives surveyed held business strategy capabilities in superior regard.
They noticed business strategy as an important skillset equally in advance of and soon after the onset of the pandemic. Functions administration capabilities ended up approximately as valued as business strategy capabilities in the pandemic crisis atmosphere. When finance executives ended up asked which important talent they experienced leveraged for the reason that of the coronavirus crisis, the most-cited reply was business strategy, picked by 34% of the executives, followed by operations administration (29%). Data analytics and innovation/entrepreneurship ended up tied as the 3rd-most-cited top capabilities drawn on for the duration of the pandemic, at ten%.
The February study asked a related problem — what ended up the most important skillsets respondents would like to create inside of their finance purpose? Data analytics and business strategy ended up the most-cited responses, by 23% and 22% of the respondents, respectively, followed by application advancement (seventeen%) and buyer working experience administration (eleven%).
There is no question that business strategy advancement was not the only extra obligation for CFOs arising from the pandemic-induced recession.
Among the brief-phrase priorities and lasting impacts of the pandemic, the executives in the May well study independently mentioned:
• lessened capex
• the probable to obtain a lot less-effectively-capitalized corporations
• lessened money movement impacting credit card debt covenants
• resource prioritization in the deal with of constrained supply chains and
• very long-phrase implications of an increasingly cell workforce on business office space, recruiting, and vacation.
Most of those people impacts will continue to have a massive influence on what CFOs devote their time on in the coming months. Respondents claimed they ended up viewing CFOs branching out into new areas of organizational leadership, such as top production and procedures, managing layoffs and shuttering operations, doing work with business models to build several production resources, managing remote workforces, partnering with the neighborhood, and interacting with buyers.
Within just the regular scope of finance, new areas of target for some finance chiefs provided acquisitions and divestitures, moves to maintain money and means, coronavirus fiscal-effect versions, investment decision possibility, forecasting and budgeting, payments and money movement administration, possibility mitigation, liquidity administration, revenue advancement, and value reduction. Paycheck Safety Application documentation and analysis also appeared on the list.
Among the new areas of target inside of technological innovation leadership, finance executives mentioned moving all features to paperless, employing perform-from-property technologies, and overseeing IT and protection.
And 1 government mentioned a-not-unfamiliar CFO purpose:
Keith Button is a freelance writer based mostly in Valley Cottage, N.Y.