- Cybersecurity and workforce retention remain at the top of CFOs’ priority list as they face the prospect of a recession, according to an Oct. 13 study by finance and accounting consultant firm Jefferson Wells, part of Manpower Group.
- More than 35% of CFOs pointed to cybersecurity as their top concern, the survey of more than 200 CFOs found, with 60% noting they are “deeply involved” in their firms’ cybersecurity risk strategy and response.
- While it is critical for CFOs to “have a solid understanding of the risks” when it comes to cybersecurity, it is also important for organizations to treat their cybersecurity strategy as an “entire C-suite matter,” Michelle Search, national practice leader, finance and accounting for Jefferson Wells said in an interview.
Cybersecurity concerns are beginning to capture more of CFOs’ attention, although more than 90% of financial leaders reported being at least “somewhat confident” in their organizations’ ability to block, mitigate and respond to potential cyber attacks, the study found. However, 34% said their businesses currently do not have an existing solution in place that complies with cybersecurity regulations.
Organizations must come to think about cybersecurity as something that is going to be “a line item on the budget, year over year, every year,” Search said.
“The risks are constantly changing,” she said. “The landscape is constantly evolving, and the risks that you felt really protected against six months ago may not even be the highest risks anymore.”
This makes understanding and implementing a robust cybersecurity strategy critical not only for CFOs, but for the entirety of the C-suite, she said — if there is a cyber attack, all parts of the organization will need to respond, making it just as important for the head of investor relations and the CFO to be involved as it is for the IT team.
The need to strengthen one’s cybersecurity strategy can also help organizations from a talent retention standpoint, with hiring and employee retention also creeping up CFOs’ priority list, according to the study. Thirty-five percent of CFOs said they planned to increase headcount over the next three months, while 57% said they were planning on doing so over the next 12 to 24 months.
However, many businesses may also be also operating without the funds available to add to their headcount, Search said, suggesting that companies take a “two-pronged” approach to talent retention. They can hire where they have “talent gaps” they are unable to fill internally while investing in training of current employees.
Investing internally to fill gaps such as missing cybersecurity or analytical talent may be essential for firms as they look to retain skilled talent in a tight labor market. The ratio of job openings to unemployed individuals dipped only slightly to 1.67 from 1.97 in August according to the U.S. Labor Department, leaving companies struggling to both find and keep hold of employees even as job openings decline.
“Employees are wanting growth and development opportunities, and if you've got a really talented employee that wants to learn more about cyber risks and cybersecurity or wants to learn more about ESG it's beneficial to you from a talent retention perspective to invest in them,” Search said.
Sixty-one percent of CFOs said they were moving to invest in expanding the skills of their current teams, according to the study.