Is tension building, or is it just me?

By Nick Araco posted 07-09-2019 08:32 AM

As we move into July, I wanted to take a moment to both reflect back on the 1st half of the calendar year and look ahead to the remainder of 2019 and the sprint to 2020.  

The 1st half of the year brought together CFO Alliance Members, prospective Members and select Partners for robust discussions on a number of the key pillars driving their individual and enterprise performance in 2019, including their ability to tackle these eight (8) critical areas of opportunity and issue:

  1. CFOS ARE EXECUTING THE STRATEGY & MEASURING SUCCESS - Continued advancement and evolution of the role of the CFO means increasing impact across the enterprise. This year again, over 75% of the respondents reported that their roles will become more strategic in 2019, with an emphasis on driving operations: talent, technology and performance across the enterprise.
  2. CFOS ARE CONNECTING WITH TODAY’S WORKFORCE - CFOs are working tirelessly to inspire trust and to instill their values with more than 2/3 of the CFO respondents believing that their businesses will get out in front in the war for talent by aligning what they stand for as an organization with changing stakeholder expectations in key areas including diversity, agility and in ways of working and delivering value to their fellow employees and the customers they serve.
  3. CFOS ARE LEADING THE CHARGE TOWARDS DIGITIZATION & AUTOMATION ACROSS OPERATIONS - More than 60% of the Survey participants intend to bring data and ‘the numbers’ to the rest of the business with better dashboards. This is a significant increase over the 20% who currently use this technology. The focus for CFOs in 2019 is no longer solely on helping to develop enterprise strategy but on operations, and ensuring that everyone is executing in sync with the agreed upon financial data and KPIs in view each day.
  4. CFOS MANDATE OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE - Unlike last year when over 50% of those surveyed felt that the performance, lack of competency, and ‘thin’ bench strength of their existing sales talent would be the top barrier towards meeting or exceeding enterprise revenue growth objectives in 2018, this year the emphasis is clearly on Operations. Over 40% of the CFO respondents said that they expected to work more closely with Operations over any other department in 2019.
  5. CFOS ARE BRINGING FP&A COMPETENCIES TO SALES & MARKETING - CFOs and their sales and marketing colleagues continue a shift from storytelling to story-doing. Almost 1⁄3 of the CFO respondents said that meeting changing customer needs will be the top operational challenge that their enterprises will face in 2019.
  6. GROWTH THROUGH STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS, JOINT VENTURES & ALLIANCES BRINGS NEW ENTERPRISE RISKS TO LIGHT - With over 60% of CFOs intending to drive enterprise growth through strategic partnerships, joint ventures and alliances, new realms of risk management will come to light in 2019. With this in mind, CFOs will focus their efforts to mitigate the risk of conflicts between and within the partnering enterprises.
  7. AIMING FOR IMPACT: CFOS ARE FINANCING INNOVATION & MEASURING THE RESULTS - Innovation will fuel revenue growth in 2019, with over 75% of Survey respondents reporting that they will focus enterprise growth efforts on building new capabilities and products to bring to market in 2019.
  8. INCREASING DEMAND FOR ANALYTICAL SKILLS MAKES THE CASE FOR INVESTMENTS IN LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT - Over 60% of the Study participants planned to add talent to their team in 2019, with almost half of the CFOs actively seeking talent with critical FP&A skills. While demand for technical skills in the areas of FP&A continue to outweigh the supply of such talent, soft skills remain the key driver for investments in learning and development for accounting and finance professionals, with over 1/2 of the Survey respondents investing at least 1/3 of their training budgets to leadership and communications training and development for their teams.
So, with the 1st half of 2019 in the books, I ask our CFO Alliance Members and respected finance leaders at large:  How do your sentiments compare with your peers on the opportunities and challenges you will face during the balance of 2019 -- while reflecting on the year thus far?  Participate in The CFO Alliance Mid-Year Update to CFO Sentiment, powered by PNC and receive a complimentary copy of the Report in August, 2019.