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CFOs juggle too many responsibilities

From HR to IT, there are many odd jobs that end up on the CFO’s plate. Finance leaders are expected to roll up their sleeves, but these jobs take attention away from the day job. So how can CFOs deal with wearing many hats?

5th Mar 2020
Commercial Production Editor AccountingWEB.co.uk
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The CFO has evolved into becoming a chameleon in most businesses that need to adopt a large and ever-changing set of responsibilities.

Whereas they are no longer tasked with the traditional number crunching, CFOs now have broader responsibilities, as they need to keep on top of new regulations, tax reforms and technology.

But is it becoming too much? Are CFOs being stretched too thin?

In a recent article, the founding partner of flinder Alastair Barlow analysed the role of Marks & Spencer’s previous CFO, Humphrey Singer, who was responsible for various disjointed areas such as group financial performance, IT, investor relations and data governance.

“As I’ve said many times before, the role of the CFO is wide and encompassing and the CFO is taking on more and more; from financial performance, IT, data, investor relations, analytics, business-wide performance and large-scale transformation programmes.” wrote Barlow.

 "It’s a good reminder to self-assess how far-reaching your own CFO skillset is and how you are going about maintaining relevance.”

Setting priorities

A recent survey by NetSuite Brainyard found the biggest challenge for 38% of CFOs was managing too many responsibilities, with over half of CFOs (54%) mentioning they have 11 to 15 major day-to-day responsibilities.

CFOs are accountable for the strategic direction of the company and financial responsibilities such as budgeting, auditing and reporting. They are also expected to stay on top of all the recent developments in data analytics and technology to manage forecasting and predictive insights.

So with more responsibilities than they can already handle, it seems like CFOs are reluctant to implement more pioneer technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain or cryptocurrency.

Since a high percentage of executives are juggling too much, it is not surprising that their top priorities are much simpler – mostly, implementing better systems and optimising existing ones.

Although most CFOs are not interested in implementing futuristic technology, finance professionals expect tech (in particular, accounting and finance software) to be a major driver of change in the next few years.

Finance departments are still far from automated and CFOs, who are still using spreadsheets for an average of 2.24 hours per day, are now looking at implementing new financial software that will change finance departments for the better – especially, exploring software that will achieve improved data visibility and enhanced business analyses.

Oracle NetSuite’s State of the CFO role analyses the evolving role of the CFO beyond accounting, tax liability and funding.

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