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CFOs bogged down by functional tasks

Monday 22nd July, 2019

A study of 500 chief financial officers (CFOs) and senior finance leaders by Wall Street Journal Custom Content and Dow Jones Intelligence in partnership with Coupa, revealed that while the role of the CFO is shifting dramatically towards strategic decision making and combating business risks, these executives remain bogged down by backward-looking tasks that threaten their ability to fulfil these evolving responsibilities.

The survey finds while 60% say that their role has expanded to have more extensive participation in strategic business decisions, 70% are stymied by functional tasks such as developing budgets and managing financial reporting, audit, and compliance.

Respondents cite fraud risk (53%), business environment risk (46%), and operational risk (44%) as their top concerns and priorities for improvement. Yet the relative importance that respondents attach to these top categories does not appear to reflect their current state of organisational readiness. The research shows that about half of finance executives report that they spend the right amount of time managing any given area of risk, and only 4% say they spend the right amount of time managing every area of risk.

“Today’s CFO must be able to focus on combating strategic and operational risks to add the most value to their organisation and their shareholders,” said Todd Ford, chief financial officer at Coupa. “This report highlights the gap between where CFOs know they need to be, as true strategic business partners, and where collectively our field is today. Getting there requires the right combination of technology, people, and process that gives CFOs the visibility and control they need to make smart decisions from spend to strategy.”

The study takes an in-depth look at the evolving role of the CFO, the challenges he/she faces, and the factors that make leaders not only survive, but thrive with risk. In addition to 500 quantitative insights from CFOs worldwide, five qualitative interviews were completed with finance executives from five major global organisations.