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CFOs want to be part of strategic decision-making process

SINGAPORE, 23 August 2017 – Much more is being demanded of CFOs by their CEOs, according to a new study commissioned by CPA Australia, Deloitte and Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC).

Some six-in-10 CFOs surveyed say performance management, business support and strategy setting have become their top 3 focus areas.

The study also found that nearly 40% of CFOs polled said their CEOs expect them to shape and set the company’s strategy while executing it to deliver returns to shareholders.

“CFOs play a critical role in the stewardship of their organisations’ finances. Our latest CFO survey revealed findings that are consistent with our observations of the sentiments in the finance industry,” said Ng Jiak See, CFO Program Leader for Deloitte Southeast Asia and Singapore.

Almost all respondents believe that it is important for them and the finance team to be part of the strategic decision-making process, but only 70% of CFOs believe they are sufficiently or very prepared to successfully execute the strategy of their companies.

According to the poll, CFOs in Southeast Asia are still spending more than a quarter of their time in traditional operator and steward roles.

42% of CFOs surveyed said that the finance function is involved in their organisation’s strategic decision-making process at the initial stage of the project, while half of respondents indicated they are brought into the picture at some point along the way.

But for 7% of CFOs, the finance team is either brought in at the final stage of the process or only after the decision is made.

Press contact:

Carie-Anne Bak
Deloitte Singapore
Marketing & Communications
+65 6531 5203

Even when the finance function is involved in strategy-setting, nearly half of CFOs said that the lack of effective communication from business units and adequacy of resources may impede their success in executing strategy.

“From our conversations with CFOs from small to medium-sized enterprises in Southeast Asia, we have observed that CFOs do not participate as frequently in business strategies as they would like to be, and are kept in the loop only when numbers are involved. Including CFOs in the planning process will ensure that business decisions made are aligned, financially sound and hence, result in a greater success during execution,” said Ms Ng.

The strategy process, however, extensively depends on the context of the company and its business and leadership, the study said. The challenge for CFOs is to choose effective ways to engage in the process.

“Securing high-performing talent is also an important factor to the success of a CFO. Having an efficient team with strong finance capabilities can help CFOs free up more time to drive strategic initiatives. As we progress towards the future of finance, rapid advances in digital technology will also continue to reshape the role of CFOs, alter our economy and create new market opportunities for organisations. As strategists, CFOs will continually need to reorient themselves to stay ahead and drive their businesses forward,” said Ms Ng.

“With increasing business complexity and disruption caused by emerging technologies, CFOs clearly need more than just technical qualifications to grow the Finance function and execute their companies’ strategy. They need to learn continuously to build new skills or enhance their existing ones to become active strategists and more effective business partners to their CEOs,” said Melvin Yong, Singapore Country Head, CPA Australia.

“The Southeast Asia CFO Survey 2017 revealed encouraging findings that showed that almost all CFOs surveyed have acknowledged the need to be involved in their organisation’s strategic decision-making process. It is therefore crucial to help CFOs and finance leaders deepen their skills to become business partners of CEOs. Given the fast pace of technology advancement and changing demographics, there is an urgency for CFOs to acquire the right skills and knowledge to better deploy assets and maintain a future-ready finance team that can help the business grow. This is one of SAC’s key focus areas as we develop Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub.”


About the survey

The Deloitte Southeast Asia CFO Survey, in collaboration with CPA Australia and Singapore Accountancy Commission, highlights the sentiments of CFOs across the region on various facets of the economy, industry and CEO expectations and the changing role of the CFO and their readiness.

The report is based on responses from over 120 CFOs comprising of private and publicly listed companies from both government and private sectors, with revenues spanning from less than USD 100 million to more than USD 1 billion.

It also encompassed industries across the sectors, including consumer business, energy & resources, financial services, life sciences & healthcare, manufacturing, technology, media and telecommunication.

About CPA Australia

Founded in 1886, CPA Australia is one of the world’s largest professional accounting bodies representing more than 160,000 members working in 118 countries. CPA Australia advances its members’ interests through education and knowledge exchange, the development of professional networks, advocacy in relation to policy, standards and regulation and the promotion of value of CPA Australia members to employers, government, regulators and the public. The world-renowned CPA designation is synonymous with professional credibility and international portability. CPA Australia has been operating in Singapore for 62 years, having arrived in this market in 1954 under the auspices of the Colombo Plan. For more information, please visit

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see to learn more about our global network of member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and high-quality service to address clients’ most complex business challenges. To learn more about how Deloitte’s approximately 245,000 professionals make an impact that matters, please connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

About Deloitte Southeast Asia

Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd – a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited comprising Deloitte practices operating in Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – was established to deliver measurable value to the particular demands of increasingly intra-regional and fast growing companies and enterprises.

Comprising 290 partners and over 7,400 professionals in 25 office locations, the subsidiaries and affiliates of Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd combine their technical expertise and deep industry knowledge to deliver consistent high quality services to companies in the region.

All services are provided through the individual country practices, their subsidiaries and affiliates which are separate and independent legal entities.

© 2017 Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd

About Singapore Accountancy Commission

The Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Finance that spearheads the development of Singapore’s accountancy sector with the vision of developing Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub. SAC is working to achieve this by deepening the skills of the accountancy talent pool through professional qualification programmes; developing the industry by helping to build business capabilities to capture growth opportunities; and creating a hub and exchange by building Singapore into a centre for thought leadership. For more information, please visit

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