Jul 05 2016

CFOs aren’t keeping up with the times

The Modern Finance Forum (FSN) released, The Future of the Finance Function Survey 2016 in May and their results revealed some interesting findings about the role of CFOs in the modern corporate world of technology.

It’s a mix of good and bad news for the position. The survey suggests that the role of a Chief Finance Officer is ‘overrated’ and may necessarily add to employee expense. Many CFOs are expected to be fully educated in the technological innovations of the day but the reality is that far too many still rely on gut instinct instead of big data procurement.

Gary Simon, FSN’s Chief Executive had this to say: “While many CFOs have travelled a long way on the modern finance journey, our research shows that there is a significant gap between perception and what is happening on the ground. CFOs are struggling to find their equilibrium between their traditional role as financial steward and guardian of corporate assets and the new demands of business partnering, strategic advisor and technology influencer.”

CFOs are in strange place within the corporate world, for example, 81% of senior finance professionals believe CFOs will be more influential in decision making, but one third of CFOs are still making decisions based on gut feelings. This is true, even though all of the evidence shows that basing decisions on data presents the best results.

To further compound this issue with technology, 81% of senior finance professionals believe CFOs will be responsible for corporate data but almost two thirds admit they are struggling to master the variety and volume of new business data. Therefore, for your business to excel you need to prove this data wrong and ensure your CFOs are tech savvy to ensure the best financial management for your company – or make sure they employ a private company to do the job for them.

The FSN survey has shown that CFOs who strongly invest in technological development, either in house or through third parties – such as cost control consultants – are more likely to be perceived more positively by other areas of the business; and are almost twice as likely to spend more time on data analysis. This in turn means CFOs are more than twice as likely as their technologically illiterate counterparts to be engaged in business decision making – which is what they are for after all.

As the 21st century gets older and the digital revolution is permeating through every aspect of our lives it is important for CFOs not to underestimate the importance of standardising technological tools such as big data and cloud services to every aspect of their office life. FSN ends their research with the conclusion that the CFOs that are the most effective are the ones that have made the best use of technology.

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