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March 31, 2017

USA CFOs face challenges as their work moves from compliance to strategy

By Stephanie Wix

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in the USA are spending over a third of their time as strategic advisers and going beyond their traditional financial management roles, according to a Grant Thornton survey.

The 2017 CFO Survey found that 40% of CFOs identified strategic planning as one of their top priorities, as well as the expected cash flow increase (45%) and reducing costs (41%).

The survey revealed that around two thirds of CFOs said that managing risk a key concern, saying that they want to merge risk management strategy with their business strategy. Additionally, 70% expect to increase their use of analytics to measure risk management in the next two years, and to help manage cyber threats.

CFOs focus on the digital transformation initiative, outlining the top challenges for future technology as managing costs (51%) maintenance of legacy systems 41% and business integration (40%). A growing number of CFOs clearly expect IT spending to grow in the coming year, but are being held back by legacy systems.

Nearly half (46%) of CFOs believe their IT platforms inhibit their organisation’s ability to operate effectively. However, many found they cannot focus on the digital transformation because they are spending so much money maintaining aging technology. Also, 61% of the largest companies plan to an investment focus on IT, compared with 40% of small companies.

“CFOs face an uphill battle when it to comes to adopting technologies like cloud computing and advanced analytics,” Mike Ward, national managing principal of business consulting and technology, Grant Thornton said.

Operational improvement was the biggest area of investment focus according to 70% of respondents. Also, a quarter of respondents revealed that their companies are considering mergers and acquisitions in the next 12 months.

The survey was conducted between November 2016 and January 2017 and included responses from 404 CFOs and senior financial executives across the United States.

A summary of the CFO Survey can be found here.

An infographic of the data from the thoughts of the CFOs can be found here.

 

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