Looking forward has become the trend as CFOs start to solidify office reopening plans and focus more on non-pandemic concerns. Issues like data quality, getting better aligned with Sales, and surprisingly, climate change are taking up more FP&A bandwidth, which underscores the need for Finance to have a deeper understanding of more areas of the business. To keep you up to speed on the latest FP&A thinking, below is a quick recap of these and other topics. We’ve found these articles helpful, and hope you do, too.
Nearly three-quarters of CFOs have company-wide data standards designed to cut costs and spur growth, and it’s putting Finance in a new role as data steward. What they’re finding is poor data quality either blocks the insights they need or leads to poor decision making. Nearly 70% of companies have made strategic decisions based on inaccurate data. So, CFOs are taking responsibility to clean up their data and put processes in place to keep it current, reliable, and accurate. “CFOs must make accuracy a key part of their overall data management strategy, with policies and frameworks to ensure quality across the organization.”
InformationWeek: Optimizing the CIO and CFO Relationship
Nine out of ten companies say “significant barriers” exist between their CFO and CIO, even though 96% say that relationship is critical to transformation success. Part of that is attributed to the CIOs tendency to take risks while the CFO is more focused on governance. Winning teams take advantage of these differences, however the CFO must be bought into the transformational value of technology. “The CFO must move from being a reactive to a proactive collaborator so the end business can be positioned to have the right systems and data at the right time.”
Yahoo Finance: CFOs are taking on new roles — chief climate officers
CFOs continue to assume more responsibility for corporate strategy, technology, sustainability, diversity, human resources, and, increasingly, climate change. As more companies are measured by their commitment to environmental, social, and governance issues, the CFO is being thrust into the lead given FP&A’s visibility into both operations and finance. However, measuring success remains a challenge even as investors demand insights on “everything from energy procurement and carbon emissions, to water security and soft commodity driven deforestation.”
Environmental concerns are taking up more and more of the CFO’s time. In fact, during Q4 earnings calls more S&P 500 companies mentioned climate change than COVID-19. Now, lenders are starting to offer better interest rates for companies who set and achieve sustainability targets. That puts even more pressure on CFOs to tie climate change metrics to financial success. “It is increasingly crucial for CFOs to help their companies shape credible corporate sustainability strategies.”
FP&A typically discounts the often optimistic forecasts provided by Sales. It’s usually a combination of conflicting data, different ways of interpreting trends, and misaligned goals that leads to such a disconnect. There are many reasons to get Sales and Finance working together to achieve success, including the fact that sales effectiveness is directly related to customer profitability. But it all starts with the people at the top. “The CFO and sales leader should focus on and prioritize their own relationship first before the relationship between the finance and sales functions.”
After a year of empty offices and remote work, companies are starting to plan for a return to the office. But much uncertainty remains, so CFOs are looking at office leases of a couple years over the traditional 10 to 15 year terms. And, while late 2020 surveys showed 82% of companies leaning towards hybrid and flexible work, that share dropped to just 47% in March. “People want a place to go during the day that isn’t their couch.”
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