Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Economic conditions place CFOs in the spotlight

he economic downturn has raised the senior finance executive’s profile in organisations worldwide, with more Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) involved in strategy development and prioritising risk management than this time last year, finds new research from CFO Research Services and ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) published today.

Surveying more than 450 CFOs worldwide on how current global economic conditions are shaping the role and perceptions of today's CFO, the research report, called “The CFO’s new environment”, reveals that:

· Finance is in the spotlight – 83 per cent of respondents say the finance chief’s role is more important than a year ago, with 70 per cent agreeing that the finance function receives more boardroom backing now than a year ago.

· The CFO is more involved in strategy – 72 per cent of survey respondents agree that finance now works more closely with business units in strategic planning, while two thirds agree that the CFO is now more involved in the creation of a medium and long term corporate strategy.

· Communication levels have increased - 77 per cent say that they have either increased or plan to increase the amount of internal communication carried out by their company, while two thirds say they have increased or plan to increase the amount of external communications.

· Risk management is now a priority for many CFOs – 4 out of 5 CFOs say they are taking a more active role in this field and two thirds of respondents say they plan more education for their teams in this area.

Mr Arif Masud Mirza, Head of ACCA Pakistan says: “When we commissioned this report, we wanted to find out how the new economic environment is shaping the CFO’s role and affecting the perception of their organisational value. The results show that CFOs are rising to the challenges brought about by global economic conditions, even though some will not have experienced such a severe downturn in their careers so far.

“Organisations are looking for CFOs to bring their knowledge to bear on the wider business, using their analytical ability to understand and deal with risk, and help shape long-term strategy. It is a tall order, but it seems from these findings, that CFOs are more than equal to the task. Despite the increasing demands on their time, we may well be witnessing a renaissance for the CFO, with their expertise extremely highly-valued and sought-after in these tough times.”

Notes to Editors

  1. ACCA is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. We have 362,000 students and 131,500 members in 170 countries worldwide.
  1. ACCA has worked with governments, national organisations and development agencies in emerging economies- for over 20 years- promoting the accounting profession, to create value for the communities, businesses and individuals it serves.
  2. ACCA believes that globalisation of business means that one set of reporting standards is essential. We favour the principles-based IFRS.
  3. ACCA understands the real issues facing small businesses as 63,000 of our members work in SMEs or small partnerships worldwide.