A quarterly survey from Adaptive Insights sought to find out what was top of mind for CFOs, and found that while many were still worried about economic volatility, they remained confident in their forecasts largely due to the combination of big data, analytics and scenario planning – believed to be the key to navigating financial uncertainty.
The above suggested means enabled them to accelerate the pace of change and remain agile, they said. Scenario planning was viewed by 48 per cent of CFOs as the activity that will provide the most strategic value to businesses during a downturn., while 78 per cent believed that applying financial data analysis to achieve profitability would provide the most strategic value overall.
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Taking the figures into account, Robert Hull, founder and chairman at Adaptive Insights, said: “A strategic CFO is an agile CFO – one who can pivot on a dime and react decisively regardless of what the future holds.
“When the financial outlook seems unclear, planning for multiple scenarios can significantly contribute to agility. While transformation and innovation experience helps inspire myriad possible outcomes, technical and analytical skills can be applied to more rapidly model multiple actionable plans – helping financial leaders to remain agile as they navigate even the most turbulent markets.”
Driven by such factors as potential changes in regulatory requirements and taxation laws, economic uncertainty is the only certainty for today’s CFO, he explained. In fact, potential changes in regulatory requirements alone is driving 64 per cent of CFOs to plan for multiple outcomes. It’s no surprise then that scenario planning has been identified as a key task for driving strategic, agile decision-making.
And to support strategic activities, 56 per cent of CFOs indicated that they were likely to invest in dashboards and analytics and identified cloud-based, or SaaS, solutions as their preference. According to the study, CFOs estimate that 33 per cent of their IT infrastructure is SaaS today, and they forecast this to grow to 60 per cent in four years.
With growth on its mind, international payments firm World First hired its first CFO, appointing an ICAEW mentor to assist the company in its expansion. As such, we talked to Alexander Filshie about avoiding the common pitfalls in the pursuit to growth, as well as what changes CFOs now face.
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