Finance chiefs continue to be optimistic about 2021, so experts and surveyed CFOs suggest FP&A can now renew their focus on sustainability, build tighter connections with HR, and continue making investments in digital transformation. Of course, there’s also continued uncertainty to worry about. But, each of these efforts, particularly digital transformation, will prepare your company for whatever that uncertainty might bring. To keep you current, below are a few insights into how Finance and FP&A leaders are moving forward. We’ve found these articles helpful, and we hope you do, too.
Most CFOs at mid-market companies say 2021 is the year for economic recovery and revenue growth, according to a new survey by BDO. Part of the reason comes from new expansion opportunities presented during the pandemic, which more than one-third of companies say they’ll realize this year. Another benefit was the accelerated digital transformation that resulted in faster decision-making. “Changes to the marketplace mean new and untapped potential to seek advantage, but companies must ensure their operational and digital strategy reflects new realities.”
While some CFOs are preparing for growth, others are trying to understand how changing customer behaviors will impact their businesses in the long run. This is especially true for those in transportation, hospitality, retail, and other industries. A recent survey of CFOs found that nearly all (86%) said their top priority is to help their businesses “adapt and thrive.” More telling, as those CFOs became crucial to company survival during 2020, “their roles are fundamentally and forever changed, in a good way, for those who will be able to step up.”
Deloitte / WSJ: Economic Brief: Weighing A Roaring ’20s Recovery
Many are hoping the 2020s mimic the decade of economic growth experienced exactly a century ago. That decade also followed a global pandemic and was defined by improved living standards and immense stock market growth. Of course, the U.S. also experienced deflation, the decade ended with the beginning of the Great Depression, and it ushered in the rise of global authoritarianism. “So, in answer to the question of whether the economy of the 2020s will be like the 1920s, my answer is that I certainly hope not.”
CFO Thought Leadership
Harvard Business Review: How to Talk to Your CFO About Sustainability
Corporate sustainability initiatives have been proven contributors to positive financial performance. But many CFOs struggle to connect financial metrics with sustainability efforts, such as emissions or waste reductions. A new methodology hopes to change that by making Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) the default for measuring the financial returns from innovation, efficiency, and customer loyalty driven by sustainability initiatives. Tying those projects to dollars makes it easier to see the tangible results. “Bringing the CFO fully onboard requires showing that proposed sustainability activities will meet the company’s required ROI on a project.”
Our own CFO, Shane Hansen, recently joined a panel of his “growth-minded” peers to talk about the importance of accurate and data-driven forecasting. Prior to the pandemic, companies tended to favor overly optimistic forecasts. That then made it difficult to justify investments outside of sales and growth. But, with FP&A successfully guiding companies through the pandemic, they now have the strategic capital to push broader, equally-important initiatives. “We are asking, ‘How do we spend prudently this quarter, and what investments do we need to make next quarter?’”
Rising healthcare costs are bringing more CFOs into HR conversations, with nearly 60% saying they would be increasingly making such decisions in collaboration with HR. It’s yet one more area in which HR and Finance are forging a closer relationship for holistic workforce planning. “CFOs appear better positioned to meet the needs of their workforces in comparison to 2019, especially in driving innovative approaches.”
The pandemic accelerated digital transformation for nearly every company. But now is definitely not the time to pull back on those efforts, experts say, especially in Finance. Productivity, increased growth, speed, and more controls are just a few of the FP&A benefits of continued transformation. And, increased modernization will better prepare companies for tomorrow’s inevitable market uncertainty. “These transformational investments drive growth in part because they enhance the ability to outpace competitors.”
The accelerated pace of digital transformation in 2020 pushed some to spend more for the sake of just getting it done quickly. Now it’s time for FP&A to take an educated look at where that money is going so they can separate the good from the bad. “Financial executives with a detailed understanding of how cloud spending generates revenue will sooner recognize a jump in cloud spending as a signal of opportunity from greater customer demand rather than an indication of inefficiency or waste.”
Deloitte / WSJ: C-Suite Insights: 5 Attributes of Resilient Organizations
A common refrain over the past year has been that the uncertainty and chaos of 2020 wouldn’t end on December 31st. Agility, flexibility, visibility, and speed are now seen as imperative to a company’s competitiveness and future growth. But those traits aren’t required to avoid chaos, they’re required to deal with the impact and get your business quickly back on track. “(Digital transformation) can help organizations navigate other types of disruptions, such as increased competition and technological upheaval from Industry 4.0.”
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