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Perspectives

The CFO Agenda

CFO Insights

Increasingly, CFOs are operating at the heart of the enterprise, and The CFO Agenda aims to help them avoid missing a beat.

Introduction

Change in the business world is nothing new, but today’s realities might feel different. The challenges of COVID-19 have sped up innovation, tested the concept of remote work, and introduced many of us to the virtual world. Many CFOs are wrestling with inflation—some for the first time. Industries continue to converge and consolidate, with M&A activity at an all-time high.1 Globally, there are calls for new forms of regulation, particularly to address how changing technology is impacting businesses and society. Moreover, the increasing instability of the earth’s climate and the political landscape have put a premium on the ability to pivot and transform.

Throughout these developments, CFOs have served as catalysts across the enterprise, creating positive change and adding value. Increasingly, they also are operating as the heart of the enterprise, not just functional leaders.

The CFO Agenda aims to help CFOs avoid missing a beat. Focused on seven key drivers shaping the business landscape, The CFO Agenda draws from our deep experience serving CFOs and the resources of Deloitte’s U.S. CFO Program, which include CFO Transition Lab™ sessions, the quarterly CFO Signals™ survey and CFO 4Sight webcasts, and the bi-weekly CFO Insights series.

We encourage you to read and share The CFO Agenda with your team, as the drivers impact the broader finance function as well as the commercial enterprise. Surely, the drivers will evolve over time, and as the last two years have taught us, unexpected changes undoubtedly await us.

The CFO Agenda

Moving on and pushing ahead

What the initial spread of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t immediately lock down, it sped up. Many organizations and their CFOs hit the accelerator on their digital transformation initiatives. They found ways to efficiently deploy capital to make necessary investments—in scaling infrastructure and fortifying cybersecurity to accommodate remote work, for example. Moreover, they improved access to meaningful data and analytics for faster and improved scenario planning.

The roaring pace of change not only upended preexisting priorities but also exerted a broader impact on the CFO role and on how finance leaders operate within their organizations. The accumulation of challenges and technologies has broadened the purview of CFOs, requiring them to serve as catalysts for creative thinking: driving value-creating innovation, accelerating digitization, and pivoting strategy as needed to strengthen performance and boost ROI.

Although weekly reforecasting or monthly scenario planning may wane along with the pandemic, CFOs are not likely to revert to their prior ways of doing things. No doubt, they will continue to oversee capital allocation, financial reporting, risk management, and other traditional core activities. At the same time, many finance executives find themselves facing new expectations from their own management, investors, and a host of internal and external stakeholders, and having to balance sometimes competing demands.

Together these additional expectations have elevated CFOs’ status within and beyond their enterprise. No longer primarily stewards of financial assets, finance chiefs are now seen as drivers of financial performance. As such, CFOs are expected to play a larger role in a range of enterprise endeavors—from redefining the models for their workforce, work, and workplace in light of the “Great Resignation,” to transforming their organizations’ business and revenue models to meet customer demand and compete more effectively. They are also tasked with navigating a growing set of challenges, including inflation and volatility, geopolitical tensions, expanding regulations, cyberattacks, and rapid technological change. Furthermore, these challenges present a level of uncertainty and ambiguity not seen for decades, requiring CFOs to sharpen their ability to understand and assess the continually shifting landscape, both internally and externally.

Finally, the evolving and expanding responsibilities that are falling to CFOs demand that they demonstrate their own agility as leaders and equip the enterprise with what it may need most: insight on what drives its value and what fulfills its purpose—and options to maximize both.

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