CFO Priorities for 2024 - CFO Roundtable Recap
The CFO role has evolved greatly over the past decade. CFOs no longer fulfill just a Controller or Budgeting function. Today’s CFO plays a much more pivotal role, wearing multiple hats, and playing a crucial role bridging between different business units in the organization.
To understand the modern CFO, and her main priorities in 2024, we invited top CFOs and VP Finance from leading technology companies for an open roundtable discussion. This blog recaps the data points presented at the event, curated from recent surveys from leading analyst firms such as Gartner, EY, Deloitte, PWC, OpenView and Oracle, and the points raised by the Finance leaders during the discussion. Our CFO roundtables follow the Chatham House Rule- therefore only insights will be presented, leaving any identifiable details out.
Main Challenges for 2024
- 58% of CFOs ranked cost savings as their top priority - there will be significant savings in the number of employees, travel costs, and external consulting fees.
- Inflation and rising interest rates were ranked as the main obstacles by 73% of CFOs - approximately 40% of respondents reported cutting back on spending due to the current interest rate.
- 68% of CFOs ranked reporting and balance sheet health as their main concern, along with cash shortages.
- Focus is shifting from growth to sustainable growth and profitability. CFOs set more realistic budgets, especially with Sales & Marketing budgets, even at the expense of business growth.
- Due to financial constraints, some CFOs are reducing salary increases and offer a lower salary benchmark to new hires.
- The CFO role is viewed as a 'jack of all trades'. They have a lot on their plate, and find that they need to develop new skills, and manage their time better than ever before.
- Budgeting is a big challenge. One specific challenge which was mentioned was the lack of full visibility of unit economics - from lead to revenue.
Technology for the CFO Office
- 42% of CFOs are experimenting with GenAI, and admit that their biggest obstacle is the lack of tech-savvy employees.
- 53% of CFOs say they intend to accelerate their digital transformation by integrating data analytics, artificial intelligence, automation, and cloud solutions.
- 72% of CFOs report that traditional mindsets and behaviors within the finance department are hindering modernization efforts.
- A concern around CRM data integrity was raised, with the challenge of creating and upholding data hygiene practices across the organization.
- There was a debate around Build vs Buy when it comes to different back office needs, such as BI.
"Speaking from my experience as a career CFO, I can say that building in house is never sustainable over time. In one of my companies we built an in house billing system, which turned out to be costly and unsustainable”
- Sarit Firon, Managing Partner at Team8 and former CFO
- Frequent changes in a company’s pricing strategy make it challenging to choose a billing system. CFOs seek a system that's flexible and customizable and allows them to stay agile in the market. This is especially true for early-stage companies still experimenting with pricing and revenue streams.
“As we grow, we intend to keep our existing workforce and use automation for operational efficiency.”
- VP Finance, Growth Startup
The Modern CFO
- 30% of CFOs believe investor relations and negotiating are necessary skills.
- 27% of CFOs believe high communication skills, leadership capabilities, and charisma are essential.
- 19% of CFOs believe it is essential to be flexible about change, whether technological or industry-related.
- Some CFOs expressed the opinion that their job is not only more technical than it used to be, but now it also requires excellent people skills, from managing teams to negotiating with clients.
- There was a discussion about how today's CFO must be able to work both outside and inside the organization. Besides knowing the business inside out, they should also know the market and maintain relationships with customers, partners, and investors.