CFOs ignored on business strategy

An organisation’s financial data should be a driving factor in its decision-making process, but new research by HR, payroll, finance, and learning experts has found that 47 per cent of finance leaders never get around to advising on strategic decisions.

The figure reflects the frustration faced by CFOs who are not getting the chance to reshape their role to take on more strategic functions due to being weighed down with other time-consuming and manual tasks.

Even jobs such as long-term scenario planning, which is crucial when many industries remain volatile as a result of the pandemic, are falling by the wayside for almost have of stretched CFOs, according to MHR International.

The survey of 250 finance leaders in the UK and Ireland also found that over half are still relying solely on Excel for most of their finance processes.

This suggests that a lack of investment in technology, and in particular solutions which deploy automation and ensure greater visibility of data across an organisation, is denying finance leaders the opportunity to flex in their role and provide business-wide strategic insights.

Mark Jenkins, CFO at MHR, said: “Finance leaders have a pivotal role to play within any organisation, and their knowledge is crucial to driving overall strategy.

“Implementing tech solutions to lighten their load will allow CFOs to properly claim their seat at the decision-making table and reshape their role from within, providing forward-thinking advice as opposed to solely fulfilling a reporting function.”

The research also highlights where automation could be most valuable in freeing up time for finance leaders. Revenue forecasting is seen as the most important process to automate by 40 per cent of respondents, while publishing accounts (39%) and audits (32%) are similarly attractive automation prospects.

There is also a need for greater visibility of data across the wider organisation, so that access is not restricted or siloed.

“Finance teams need to move on from relying on IT alone”, said Jenkins. “By becoming drivers of tech implementation, leaders can secure the best solutions to meet their needs while they craft their vision for the evolving role of finance.”

More on ‘The Shape of Finance Report’ here