- CFOs today must juggle a growing list of responsibilities at their firms, including increasingly taking charge of technology or IT-related spending, a study released Tuesday by the Controllers Council and SaaS firm Trintech found.
- Most CFOs and controllers — 92% — report managing their companies’ finance and accounting (F&A) technology, according to the study, with nearly 70% of survey respondents stating they are at least participating in their firms’ F&A digital transformation initiatives.
- Fourteen percent of finance leaders, for that matter, report they are overseeing all corporate digital transformation at their organizations.
CFOs and controllers are beginning to take on an increasing number of responsibilities that fall outside the scope of the more traditional accounting functions, according to the study, which surveyed 300 CFOs, controllers and F&A professionals between June and August of this year.
Sixty-one percent of financial leaders reported they are now in charge of all technology budgeting, spending and approval at their organizations, for example, while 28% reported that they at least supervise IT and software.
Technology projects are assuming more importance at organizations today, many of which were pushed to rework their existing processes during the pandemic in order to cater to hybrid or remote workforces — which required new back-office finance tools to connect them.
Keeping pace with current workforce or business needs may be why 69% percent of CFOs and controllers stated their corporate technology responsibilities are increasing, according to the study. Less than one percent said their responsibilities were declining.
What began as simply automating functions such as one’s AP processes “has quickly grown to automating many different categories inside the office of [the] CFO,” Omar Choucair, CFO of Trintech said during a recent webinar previewing the study’s results.
“In terms of corporate technology, I think the reason why CFOs are more involved is, he or she are the ones that are receiving the benefit,” he said during the webinar. “And I think the return on investment has become clear for controllers and CFOs.”
However, CFOs must balance their emerging technology duties alongside other potential stressors, including quarterly reports and the hiring or talent retention struggles many are facing in the present environment.
But while the number of functions under the purview of the CFO has increased, Choucair said in a recent interview, so has the availability of technologies that can help them ease that pressure.
Software and technology firms offering automated payments, receivables or payables solutions are now targeting CFOs, he said, because “they realized that the CFOs have now assumed more responsibility, and therefore they need more help.”
“I think every CFO you talk to would agree, yes, I need more help,” Choucair said. “And I'm getting help from these really new and interesting technology firms that are helping me become more efficient.”
Yet while digital is creeping onto CFOs’ responsibility list, there is also a growing divide between finance leaders who are readily embracing technology’s role at their organizations and those that may be falling behind.
The study found 50% of CFOs and controllers are still not using automation despite its potential benefits, though interest in implementing the technology is creeping upwards. Twenty-seven percent of finance leaders said they are planning to use automation in the future, and a small collection of CFOs and controllers are “early adapters” of the technology, according to the study.
Nineteen percent of CFOs and controllers said they are currently using automation for F&A, while 10% said they were using it for corporate processes.