- The coronavirus has compelled CFOs to increase their C-suite clout by streamlining business and financial processes and ensuring better use of enterprise data for “strategic, real-time and predictive insights,” Accenture said in a survey.
Federal CFOs especially have expanded the “role and scope” of their functions, Accenture said, as Congress has authorized $5.9 trillion in coronavirus rescue aid to U.S. citizens and businesses during the past year.
“Federal CFOs have expanded their role as the primus inter pares (“first among equals”) amid their C-suite peers,” Accenture said, with 66% not expecting a return to “business as usual” until October 2021 at the earliest.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many financial executives have taken the lead in digital transformation at their companies, becoming "catalysts of digital strategies" and "digital stewards," according to another Accenture survey. Seventy-two percent of CFOs now have the final say on technology strategy.
“The role and scope of the CFO function has expanded to include broader leadership and change agent responsibilities,” Accenture said.
The pandemic and severe recession disrupted the operating models at federal agencies; federal CFOs have had to implement “a slew of enormous relief bills” across several federal programs and agencies.
They’ve had to navigate a “delicate balance of speed — getting funds to where they were needed swiftly to stem further economic damage — and attention to detail — by following proper oversight protocols and internal controls to ensure fraud, waste, and abuse were minimized.”
Fifty-nine percent of federal CFOs have said they improved their agencies’ ability to produce real-time data and 57% have spent more on technology to automate core tasks, Accenture said.
While dealing with pandemic challenges, “federal agency CFOs face the added burden of ensuring organizational continuity even as large numbers of seasoned employees become eligible to transition out of the federal workforce,” according to Accenture.
Accenture said it surveyed 100 federal executives in October 2020 across civilian and defense agencies, with half of them identified as CFOs or equivalent roles and half identified as senior finance leaders.