CFOs serve as a critical filter to the board of directors. And filter they must, due to the complex array of strategic risks boards expect their companies to monitor. CFOs’ expanding scope of responsibilities, strategic partnership with the CEO, and risk- and control-centric mindset enable them to pinpoint the pivotal aspects of threats to, and opportunities for, the enterprise that require the board’s attention. This explains why leading finance chiefs increasingly deploy data visualization tools and approaches to zero in on board-worthy topics in concise and compelling board reports.
Board members can help CFOs execute a mandate that now extends well beyond their traditional finance blocking and tackling to a wider range of strategic issues that include cybersecurity and data privacy; environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies and reporting; supply chain management; and more. By posing the following questions to their CFOs, directors will get the insights their oversight requires while providing guidance to finance chiefs on how to make their board reports and presentations even more clear, targeted and decisive:
Among organizations in which finance operations experienced disruptions or delays as a result of office closures or shutdowns at vendors or third-party service providers over the past year, 57% addressed these challenges by engaging a managed services or business process outsourcing provider, compared with 41% the prior year.
Regarding the finance organization’s planning and forecasting, to what extent are these and related processes integrating new data inputs to help generate increasingly real-time insights for finance customers inside and outside the organization? To what extent are finance teams providing sharper forecasts and viewpoints by supplementing key performance indicators (KPIs) with key business indicators (KBIs) culled from data sources throughout the organization and among external partners, vendors and other third parties?
Regarding the finance organization’s ongoing digital transformation, are investments in technology and talent supporting the data quality and governance, analytics, workflows, and collaboration required to thrive as a next-generation finance function? Given the foundational role that cloud technology plays in enabling digital transformation and supporting advanced tools, does the finance group have sufficient cloud capabilities in place or a plan for putting them in place?
The global pandemic accelerated digitalization, remote work and other preexisting business trends. It also equipped CFOs with brutally honest judgments about their finance transformation progress. This clarity provides finance leaders with a rare opportunity: a game plan for rapid improvements that should be implemented immediately. On that point, the takeaways from Protiviti's latest Global Finance Trends Survey are clear: The world, businesses and corporate finance teams have entered a new era, and there is no going back.
Managing Director Chris Wright, Global Leader for Protiviti’s Business Performance Improvement practice, comments on the overall priorities and challenges for today’s CFOs and finance leaders.
Senior Managing Director Bob Hirth comments on the rapid growth of ESG reporting as a critical priority for CFOs and finance organizations.
Managing Director Jay Thompson comments on the need for a flexible labor model in finance.
Managing Director Ken Thomas discusses finance transformation trends and some of the recent and long-term hurdles to progress.