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CFOs’ Long List Of Trepidations

Chief Financial Officers don’t have it easy in today’s market conditions. With businesses reaching out to partners globally, and expanding across national borders, CFOs can often be tasked not only with ensuring proper cash flow management of a corporation, but also with the plethora of challenges that come with cross-border deals, foreign exchange, and the fact that markets can now impact a business halfway across the globe.

So it’s no surprise that CFOs have a lot on their minds. New research from Robert Half Management Resources pulls back the curtains on what’s going on inside the heads of corporate money managers.

The analysis follows separate research from Grant Thornton released just weeks ago. Both reports find different concerns as landing at the top of CFOs’ priority lists. So which is right? The short answer is: most likely both.

Tech Troubles

The latest findings from Robert Half Management Resources found the fast pace of technological change to be CFOs’ greatest worry today, with 41 percent of survey respondents citing that topic as the cause of the greatest pressure within their accounting and financial teams, reports in Business Insider said Tuesday (Sept. 15).

Technological innovation was cited as more worrisome than the pressures of regulatory compliance, with 24 percent of CFOs choosing compliance as their top concern.

Tech changes also beat out the struggle to manage big data (17 percent) and to maintain adequate staff (16 percent), researchers found.

According to Robert Half Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald, keeping up with the latest technology means CFOs and money managers must invest a lot in ensuring their tools are up-to-date, because doing so will lead to greater rewards in the form of stronger cash management.

“Although updating technology requires an initial investment of time and resources, it can pay off in terms of improved financial reporting, enhanced security, and the ability to make better decisions,” he said, according to reports.

[bctt tweet=”Although updating technology requires an initial investment of time and resources, it can pay off”]

Plus, McDonald added, maintaining high-tech accounting and finance tools can take care of some of the other worries on CFOs’ lists. “It also helps companies strengthen their internal controls and remain compliant with regulatory mandates,” he noted.

Interestingly, researchers found that maintaining staff with the capabilities to handle technological changes is key to successfully balancing this demand. “Companies need accounting and finance staff who are proficient with enterprise resource planning systems, are able to automate financial processes, and can tap intelligence tools to mine data they can turn into strategic guidance,” McDonald told Business Insider.

Economic Uncertainty

Robert Half’s research follows close on the heels of data from Grant Thornton that measured the same type of information. In its own survey of chief financial officers in the U.S., Grant Thornton found that uncertainties in the nation’s economy are their top worry, with more than half (55 percent) choosing this factor above all others.

“While the U.S. economy has stabilized, our data suggest that uncertainty related to other economic factors is making strategic planning difficult for financial executives,” said Grant Thornton national managing partner of Tax Services Randy Robason in a statement last month. “CFOs are looking to Washington, regulators and the Federal Reserve for answers and getting nothing but indecision.”

[bctt tweet=”Uncertainty related to economic factors is making strategic planning difficult for financial executives”]

Analysts also noted that worries over economic stability seem to be on the rise, considering that just 22 percent of CFOs cited this factor as their top concern only month prior.

About half of respondents also cited security as their chief concern, and 45 percent cited regulatory compliance as their highest priority. Maintaining adequate staff was also crucial to those surveyed, with 70 percent agreeing that finding and retaining competent employees is critical to their companies.

So Which Is It? 

Robert Half says technological changes are CFOs’ top concern, but Grant Thornton says economic uncertainty is. So which is it?

Most likely, both. With two separate studies measuring an array of challenges for CFOs, the research highlights just how many factors go into a CFO’s list of responsibilities – and how many of those responsibilities clamor to the top of the priority list.

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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the February 2019 PYMNTS Financial Invisibles Report

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