Surveys done right before and during the pandemic present the coronavirus crisis may be reshaping the purpose of the CFO, with senior finance executives shifting their concentrate to crafting technique and producing company benefit.

CFO Investigation (element of Argyle Advisory and Investigation Providers) and Grant Thornton surveyed 631 CFOs and other senior finance executives in February, then followed up with a survey of 174 CFOs and senior finance executives in May possibly, to gauge the consequences of the COVID-19 upheaval.

Other than the switching concentrate of CFOs, the surveys uncovered widescale delays for innovation tasks, a renewed appreciation for company technique techniques, cybersecurity expense will increase, and adore for superior analytics and synthetic intelligence.

Roles and Duties

The February and May possibly surveys confirmed that the purpose of the CFO shifted when the pandemic strike. In each surveys, the executives have been questioned how significantly of CFOs’ time would be spent in these four roles: strategist (crafting corporate technique) modify agent (producing company benefit) producer (standardizing and automating transactional processes) and guardian (standardizing command and compliance processes).

In February, the survey respondents noted that CFOs’ time was divided comparatively similarly throughout the four roles. But by May possibly that equilibrium experienced shifted in response to the COVID-19 crisis: strategist and modify agent roles have been taking far more of CFOs’ time in comparison with the producer and guardian roles.

Irrespective of the apparent shift to far more forward-wanting tasks, the coronavirus pressured a significant vast majority of CFOs to put off or modify their strategies for innovation tasks. Eight out of ten surveyed finance executives experienced delayed or reshaped innovation tasks in May possibly. Sixty-two per cent of the respondents noted that the COVID-19 crisis experienced delayed their transformational tasks though 19% claimed the crisis experienced reshaped their tasks and they have been pursuing a distinctive tactic. The remaining 19% noted that the crisis experienced accelerated transformation tasks.

Delaying and reshaping innovation tasks does not suggest they are extinguished. Far more than ninety% of 335 finance industry experts polled during a Grant Thornton webinar in June claimed they prepared to keep on to innovate, even during the COVID-19 downturn.

Automation Stays the System

State-of-the-art analytics and synthetic intelligence have been favored types of automation technological know-how in each the February and May possibly surveys.

A vast majority of the executives in the May possibly survey noted that their strategies for utilizing automation systems experienced not been delayed by the pandemic. Far more executives slated superior analytics for accelerated implementation (29%) than they did any other category of technological know-how. Artificial intelligence was a shut next at 23%.

The February survey experienced questioned executives when they envisioned to carry out a record of specified automation systems. Most respondents (fifty five%) experienced presently implemented superior analytics. Optical character recognition was the next-most-presently-implemented automation technological know-how, at 40%. Artificial intelligence experienced the maximum proportion of prepared implementations within just twelve months (33%), followed by robotic system automation (30%).

In a December 2019 recession preparedness survey by Grant Thornton, 70% of respondents noted strategies to improve their digital investments in innovation/technological know-how, digital transformation, and/or cybersecurity, even amid developing indicators of a slowdown. In the February CFO survey, about 70% of the senior finance executives noted they experienced either implemented key emerging systems or they would be utilizing them within just two years.

When questioned in May possibly about how bills would modify more than the up coming 12 months since of COVID-19, cybersecurity experienced the maximum proportion of executives projecting will increase (forty four%) followed by IT/digital transformation (40%), coaching and advancement (22%), operations (21%), and promoting (19%). Not amazingly, the types with the most affordable projections for expense will increase have been journey (four%), true estate (6%), recruiting (seven%), and workforce (seven%). Ninety per cent of the executives projected their journey bills would reduce.

Like for Business Strategy

Fitting with the getting of CFOs viewing on their own in far more strategic roles during the pandemic, the finance executives surveyed held company technique techniques in higher regard.

They observed company technique as an important skillset each right before and following the onset of the pandemic. Functions management techniques have been approximately as valued as company technique techniques in the pandemic crisis natural environment. When finance executives have been questioned which important ability they experienced leveraged since of the coronavirus crisis, the most-cited reply was company technique, selected by 34% of the executives, followed by operations management (29%). Information analytics and innovation/entrepreneurship have been tied as the 3rd-most-cited top techniques drawn on during the pandemic, at ten%.

The February survey questioned a related dilemma — what have been the most important skillsets respondents would like to create within just their finance function? Information analytics and company technique have been the most-cited responses, by 23% and 22% of the respondents, respectively, followed by application advancement (seventeen%) and shopper experience management (11%).

Other Impacts

There’s no question that company technique advancement was not the only added accountability for CFOs arising from the pandemic-induced recession.

Amid the quick-phrase priorities and long lasting impacts of the pandemic, the executives in the May possibly survey individually detailed:
• reduced capex
• the prospective to invest in a lot less-perfectly-capitalized firms
• reduced funds movement impacting personal debt covenants
• useful resource prioritization in the face of constrained source chains and
• lengthy-phrase implications of an more and more cell workforce on office environment space, recruiting, and journey.

Most of these impacts will keep on to have a significant influence on what CFOs shell out their time on in the coming months. Respondents claimed they have been viewing CFOs branching out into new spots of organizational management, these kinds of as top output and processes, managing layoffs and shuttering operations, performing with company models to establish various manufacturing sources, managing remote workforces, partnering with the group, and interacting with traders.

Within the traditional scope of finance, new spots of concentrate for some finance chiefs provided acquisitions and divestitures, moves to maintain funds and assets, coronavirus financial-affect styles, investment danger, forecasting and budgeting, payments and funds movement management, danger mitigation, liquidity management, earnings advancement, and cost reduction. Paycheck Protection System documentation and examination also appeared on the record.

Amid the new spots of concentrate within just technological know-how management, finance executives detailed transferring all functions to paperless, utilizing work-from-dwelling systems, and overseeing IT and stability.
And one government detailed a-not-unfamiliar CFO purpose:
therapist.

Keith Button is a freelance author based mostly in Valley Cottage, N.Y.

Business Strategy, COVID-19, innovation, Difficulty 2020-09 CFO, Technologies