A March 2023 survey of 500 CFOs, C-suite executives, and managers from a variety of industries shows that, compared to last quarter, business leaders are more confident in the U.S. economy, with more than half of executives agreeing it will expand this year and have a positive effect on their 2023 Q2 revenues and beyond. Almost all business leaders still face hiring challenges, although most hope investments in technology will mitigate workforce needs. Still, most executives predict their organizations will meet or exceed their goals, with 84% of CFOs expecting revenue to grow this year.
Other Key Findings:
- Cost cutting is still a core theme in 2023, as companies prioritize efficiency. However, spending is expected to increase in all areas of business, including: production, sales, marketing and technology.
- Although most executives look to invest in technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) usage is expected to expand, opinions diverge with respect to evaluating such investments. There is wider agreement on the importance of factors such as compatibility with existing systems and ease of implementation.
- Business leaders feel pressure from investors and the wider community to prioritize best environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.
According to Wakefield survey respondents, most CFOs, C-suite executives and managers appear confident heading into the second half of 2023, despite a potential recession later this year. More than four in five anticipating their companies will be able to meet or exceed key objectives. Fifty-three percent of executives still anticipate that the economy will expand this year, and only a small 8% minority anticipate the recession will be significant.
CFO.com’s survey set out to gauge respondents’ reaction to critical hiring needs. Many anticipate that investments in technology may be part of the solution. More than four in five respondents say reducing human resources needs is an intention of such efforts. Only a smattering of executives strongly disagree that technology investments are meant to gradually reduce headcount.
“CFOs continue to push their companies forward, even amid economic headwinds,” said Andy Burt, Managing Director of CFO.com. “While the economy works to stabilize and recover, finance leaders are using this opportunity to balance workforce needs with the commensurate amount of technology, as well as get their arms around the next wave of AI.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) and the rise of ChatGPT made headlines in the first quarter of 2023, which mirrors many respondents’ keen interest in AI application. More than two-thirds of executives believe their companies’ AI usage will increase this year. Other data points agree that executives expect generative AI to have a substantial impact on business.
However, CFOs must continue to be aligned with their teams to not stifle innovation. The survey found that a solid majority of managers — more than three in five — believe executive leadership is hindering their innovative instincts. A third of managers strongly agree with this sentiment. This ultimately may have an impact on management retention. According to the survey, 50% of managers, despite being motivated in their roles, are looking to change jobs in 2023.
“CFOs know that the next big idea in growth and operational efficiency can come from anywhere,” said Burt. “But it is still incumbent on finance chiefs to actively support and be open to innovation within their ranks, lest they miss the opportunity, and then lose their best talent.”
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