CFOs facing increased pressure and unrealistic expectations, survey finds

More than half of chief financial officers (CFOs) are under pressure from boards that they believe have unrealistic expectations of their work, according to a new report.

A survey by Dun and Bradstreet found that 56 per cent of CFOs say they face unrealistic expectations, while 71 per cent believe they are under too much pressure.

97 per cent agreed their roles have changed significantly in the last three years. 59 per cent of those questioned said more risk and compliance elements had worked their way into their jobs, while 60 per cent said increased pressure comes from falling team sizes.

53 per cent of CFOs said this increased pressure also increases the risk of serious mistakes, with 59 per cent reporting that their firms often rush the compliance process and 55 per cent saying they feel uncomfortable in their roles due to the kinds of risks being taken.

“The role of the financial decision maker has transformed over the last few years,” said Tim Vine, head of trade credit for the UK and Ireland at Dun and Bradstreet. “While many financial leaders feel this has been a positive shift overall, it’s still a major challenge. Suddenly, teams who have reduced in size now have to manage a complex dual role – business gatekeeper and revenue creator.”

To solve this problem, 45 per cent of CFOs think decisions should be made based on data. 57 per cent said their businesses do not currently have access to accurate data, which 65 per cent of financial leaders say makes opportunities more difficult to spot.

“The UK’s financial leaders know how powerful data analysis and smart use of technology can be in helping them meet business expectations in their new joint role as business guardian and revenue driver,” Vine said. “Despite the challenges they clearly face, these two roles are not opposites.

“Protection and growth can go hand-in-hand, but only when they are underpinned and supported by the resource, tools and data to allow for smarter decisions that will grow the business.

“If financial leaders are to fulfil this duel objective, they must gain support for the data and analytical capabilities needed to empower their insight.”

For more from the report, see the Dun and Bradstreet website.

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