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Increasing Strategic Value & an Insiders' Look at the Modern CFO

Posted on 6.25.2015

Adaptive Insights is shedding light on the tough job of chief financial officers (CFO), thanks to insights from its Q2 2015 CFO Indicator study.

The study benchmarks CFO’s top priorities, business strategies and key investments. According to the data, finance is at the center of business and positioned to help guide strategic, data-driven decisions across the company. Moreover, 69 percent of CFOs plan to take on more strategic leadership roles, while 56 percent cite a culture of analytics as a key competitive advantage in today’s business climate.

When it comes to the economy, the outlook from CFOs was mixed. For instance, the data found that 59 percent of CFOs have high confidence in their regional economy, yet confidence dips to 37 percent when global factors are taken into consideration. According to the CFOs’ responses, 84 percent site economy uncertainty as their top concern, followed by competition (81 percent), product or service obsolescence (65 percent) and interest rates/inflation (64 percent).

It is also important to note that 38 percent of CFOs predict the number of IPOs will increase, but 49 percent of those asked about major business transformations admitted they are extremely unprepared for an IPO. When it comes to private markets, however, 69 percent of CFOs predict significant growth in funding, while 38 percent anticipate an increase in private companies valued at or above $1 billion.

“Modern CFOs are increasing their strategic value across the organization at a critical time, managing business success through dynamic and often volatile markets. Those who lead their organizations with a culture of analytics and 360-degree view of the business will be in an advantageous position to effectively manage these unforeseen macroeconomic factors, business changes and Wall Street volatility,” said Rob Hull, founder and chairman of Adaptive Insights. “However, many CFOs face a variety of obstacles and are struggling to achieve this because they don’t have the right financial analytics tools and technologies they need to achieve business success.”

The study also shed light on CFOs biggest obstacles, revealing that although 70 percent feel that finance is already at the center of business and drives strategic decision making, they still crave the ability to boost their current success and have an idea of what’s holding them back. For instance, 63 percent of CFOs identify lack of time for analyzing data as their number one obstacle. Conversely, 59 percent cite fragmented or inaccurate data and the time it takes to plan and forecast as their number one obstacle, while 39 percent cite outdates and complex legacy systems and 37 percent admit corporate strategy is lacking.

Lastly, the study found that over the next two years, 55 percent of CFOs plan to increase their investment in financial technologies, with analytics tools and dashboards to support finance efforts being top on a CFO’s priority list (54 percent). That said 48 percent are in need of reporting tools and 39 percent plan to invest of budgeting and forecasting tools.

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