Evaluating finance function strategy, scope and design is the top priority for CFOs in 2023, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. A survey of 157 CFOs in November 2022 ranked the top 10 priorities for CFOs for this year, and 90% of respondents selected evaluating finance strategy, scope and design as the top priority, followed by planning and sequencing finance transformation activities.
“CFOs will be stretched thinly across many activities in 2023. The survey revealed a wide range of actions CFOs plan to either lead or be significantly involved with,” said Marko Horvat, vice president, research in the Gartner Finance practice. “More than two-thirds or CFOs plan to be significantly involved even in the priorities ranked in ninth and tenth place.”
The top five priorities were picked by at least four in five CFOs, and, except for communicating and engaging with the board, they all relate to redefining and remodeling the ways in which the finance function supports the business for the future (see Figure 1).
CFOs are taking a personal interest in high-level finance restructuring in 2023
The CFO role is a strategic one, and therefore while CFOs do not generally plan to become closely involved in the tactical details of the digital transformation of their functions, they nonetheless recognize its the strategic importance.
“The greatest proportion of CFOs felt that leading digital transformation would be the hardest area to achieve success this year,” said Horvat. “The survey suggests that CFOs are mostly not comfortable delegating oversight over such matters, and they want to keep a firm grip on the reins.”
Technology-enabled change both in the finance function and the wider business is also leading most CFOs to reevaluate and reframe the role of finance in the business.
Finance transformation and redesigning the finance function is a top priority right now
The incorporation of new technology and data into finance processes has the potential to elevate the function into a real-time provider of strategic insights and data for a business.
“Many CFOs see the incorporation of digital technology as a key route to improving profitability in volatile times,” said Horvat. “They are so commonly involved in these areas, not just because they think they are hard to achieve and need close monitoring, but also because their success or failure will be critical to how a business performs in the coming years.”
With four of the top five priorities, and six of the top 10, relating to bringing about significant strategic change within the finance function, it is clear that most CFOs are very focused on this area.
Communication with the board will be critical in the coming year
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment, with many CFOs expecting a recession in 2023,” said Horvat. “Many CFOs are also dealing with simultaneous challenges they haven’t faced before, such as heightened geopolitical and regulatory tensions, supply chain shocks, higher inflation, and labor problems. Given all that’s going on, it’s easy to understand why effective communication with the board is a top priority for CFOs in 2023.”