Surveys performed in advance of and throughout the pandemic display the coronavirus disaster may possibly be reshaping the purpose of the CFO, with senior finance executives shifting their emphasis to crafting technique and making organization worth.

CFO Analysis (part of Argyle Advisory and Analysis Services) and Grant Thornton surveyed 631 CFOs and other senior finance executives in February, then adopted up with a study of 174 CFOs and senior finance executives in May perhaps, to gauge the effects of the COVID-19 upheaval.

Aside from the changing emphasis of CFOs, the surveys uncovered widescale delays for innovation jobs, a renewed appreciation for organization technique techniques, cybersecurity cost improves, and adore for sophisticated analytics and synthetic intelligence.

Roles and Tasks

The February and May perhaps surveys confirmed that the purpose of the CFO shifted when the pandemic hit. In equally surveys, the executives ended up asked how considerably of CFOs’ time would be used in these 4 roles: strategist (crafting corporate technique) change agent (making organization worth) producer (standardizing and automating transactional procedures) and guardian (standardizing manage and compliance procedures).

In February, the study respondents reported that CFOs’ time was divided reasonably equally across the 4 roles. But by May perhaps that equilibrium experienced shifted in response to the COVID-19 disaster: strategist and change agent roles ended up getting a lot more of CFOs’ time in comparison with the producer and guardian roles.

Despite the clear shift to a lot more forward-seeking jobs, the coronavirus compelled a massive the vast majority of CFOs to set off or change their options for innovation jobs. Eight out of ten surveyed finance executives experienced delayed or reshaped innovation jobs in May perhaps. Sixty-two percent of the respondents reported that the COVID-19 disaster experienced delayed their transformational jobs when 19{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} mentioned the disaster experienced reshaped their jobs and they ended up pursuing a distinctive approach. The remaining 19{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} reported that the disaster experienced accelerated transformation jobs.

Delaying and reshaping innovation jobs doesn’t signify they are extinguished. More than ninety{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} of 335 finance industry experts polled throughout a Grant Thornton webinar in June mentioned they planned to go on to innovate, even throughout the COVID-19 downturn.

Automation Stays the Training course

Sophisticated analytics and synthetic intelligence ended up favored classes of automation technological know-how in equally the February and May perhaps surveys.

A the vast majority of the executives in the May perhaps study reported that their options for utilizing automation technologies experienced not been delayed by the pandemic. More executives slated sophisticated analytics for accelerated implementation (29{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}) than they did any other group of technological know-how. Synthetic intelligence was a near 2nd at 23{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}.

The February study experienced asked executives when they predicted to apply a checklist of specified automation technologies. Most respondents (55{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}) experienced currently implemented sophisticated analytics. Optical character recognition was the 2nd-most-currently-implemented automation technological know-how, at forty{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}. Synthetic intelligence experienced the best percentage of planned implementations inside of 12 months (33{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}), adopted by robotic procedure automation (thirty{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}).

In a December 2019 economic downturn preparedness study by Grant Thornton, 70{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} of respondents reported options to increase their electronic investments in innovation/technological know-how, electronic transformation, and/or cybersecurity, even amid rising indicators of a slowdown. In the February CFO study, about 70{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} of the senior finance executives reported they experienced either implemented critical emerging technologies or they would be utilizing them inside of two many years.

When asked in May perhaps about how charges would change in excess of the following calendar year simply because of COVID-19, cybersecurity experienced the best percentage of executives projecting improves (44{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}) adopted by IT/electronic transformation (forty{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}), teaching and progress (22{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}), functions (21{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}), and advertising (19{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}). Not remarkably, the classes with the least expensive projections for cost improves ended up travel (four{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}), authentic estate (six{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}), recruiting (7{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}), and workforce (7{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}). Ninety percent of the executives projected their travel charges would lower.

Appreciate for Business System

Fitting with the getting of CFOs looking at themselves in a lot more strategic roles throughout the pandemic, the finance executives surveyed held organization technique techniques in high regard.

They observed organization technique as an crucial skillset equally in advance of and soon after the onset of the pandemic. Operations administration techniques ended up virtually as valued as organization technique techniques in the pandemic disaster environment. When finance executives ended up asked which crucial talent they experienced leveraged simply because of the coronavirus disaster, the most-cited solution was organization technique, preferred by 34{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} of the executives, adopted by functions administration (29{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}). Data analytics and innovation/entrepreneurship ended up tied as the 3rd-most-cited major techniques drawn on throughout the pandemic, at ten{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}.

The February study asked a connected issue — what ended up the most crucial skillsets respondents would like to build inside of their finance perform? Data analytics and organization technique ended up the most-cited answers, by 23{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} and 22{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2} of the respondents, respectively, adopted by application progress (17{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}) and shopper encounter administration (11{312eb768b2a7ccb699e02fa64aff7eccd2b9f51f6a579147b7ed58dbcded82a2}).

Other Impacts

There’s no question that organization technique progress was not the only included duty for CFOs arising from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

Amongst the small-time period priorities and lasting impacts of the pandemic, the executives in the May perhaps study individually shown:
• diminished capex
• the likely to obtain less-perfectly-capitalized companies
• diminished cash circulation impacting credit card debt covenants
• resource prioritization in the experience of constrained provide chains and
• prolonged-time period implications of an increasingly cell workforce on office environment room, recruiting, and travel.

Most of those people impacts will go on to have a massive influence on what CFOs spend their time on in the coming months. Respondents mentioned they ended up looking at CFOs branching out into new spots of organizational management, these types of as primary output and procedures, controlling layoffs and shuttering functions, operating with organization models to create a number of production resources, controlling distant workforces, partnering with the group, and interacting with investors.

Inside the common scope of finance, new spots of emphasis for some finance chiefs bundled acquisitions and divestitures, moves to preserve cash and assets, coronavirus money-influence designs, investment hazard, forecasting and budgeting, payments and cash circulation administration, hazard mitigation, liquidity administration, earnings progress, and charge reduction. Paycheck Safety Plan documentation and evaluation also appeared on the checklist.

Amongst the new spots of emphasis inside of technological know-how management, finance executives shown relocating all functions to paperless, utilizing do the job-from-home technologies, and overseeing IT and security.
And one executive shown a-not-unfamiliar CFO purpose:

Keith Button is a freelance writer centered in Valley Cottage, N.Y.

Business System, COVID-19, innovation, Difficulty 2020-09 CFO, Technological innovation