Gartner identifies top ten priorities for CFOs

Evaluating the finance function’s strategy, scope and design is a top priority for nine out of ten CFOs this year. Planning and monitoring financial transformation activities follows.

This is the conclusion of a survey of 157 CFOs conducted by the market researcher Gartner. “CFOs will be thinly spread across many activities by 2023. The research reveals a wide range of actions that CFOs plan to lead or have significant involvement in,” said Marko Horvat, vice president of research in Gartner’s finance practice. “More than two-thirds of CFOs plan to be significantly involved in even the ninth and tenth priorities.”

Top five priorities have been mentioned by at least four out of five CFOs. With the exception of communication and interaction with the board, all relate to redefining and rebuilding the ways in which the finance function supports the company going forward

N=157 CFOs; Source: Gartner (January 2023) (click image to enlarge)

Gartner experts draw three important lessons from these survey results:

CFOs have a vested interest in high-level financial restructuring in 2023

The CFO role is strategic. Although CFOs generally do not intend to become deeply involved in the tactical details of the digital transformation of their functions, they recognize its strategic importance.

“The majority of CFOs believe that leading digital transformation is the most difficult area to achieve success this year,” said Horvat. “The survey shows that CFOs are generally reluctant to delegate oversight of such matters, wanting to remain firmly in control.”

Technology-enabled changes, both in the finance function and the broader business, are also causing most CFOs to reassess and reframe finance’s role in the business.

Financial transformation and redesign of the finance function is a top priority

The integration of new technology and data into financial processes has the potential to elevate the function to a real-time supplier of strategic insight and data to a company. “Many CFOs see the integration of digital technology as an important way to improve profitability in volatile times,” says Horvat. “They are often involved in these areas. Not only because they believe they are difficult to reach and need to be closely monitored, but also because their success or failure will determine how a company performs in the years to come.”

Four of the top five priorities and six of the top ten relate to achieving significant strategic change within the finance function. Gartner therefore calls it clear that most CFOs are very focused in this area.

Communication with the board will be crucial in the coming year

“There is a lot of uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment and many CFOs are expecting a recession in 2023,” Horvat said. “Many CFOs are also facing concurrent challenges they haven’t faced before, such as heightened geopolitical and regulatory tensions, supply chain shocks, higher inflation and labor challenges. Given all that’s going on, it’s easy to see why effective communication with the board is a top priority for CFOs in 2023.”

More information is available to Gartner clients in CFO Priorities for 2023. Non-Gartner clients can learn more through the Virtual Briefing: Top Priorities for Finance Leaders in 2023: Lead Through a Recessionary Period. In addition, CFOs and CFOs can participate in Gartner research and gain additional access by joining the Gartner Research Circle.

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