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4 key trends future-focused CFOs need to watch
Kelly has almost a decade of experience writing and editing content across a wide range of audiences and media, from PR and editorial pieces to social media and beyond. She has written for prominent print and online publications, digital marketing agencies and academic journals.
Gone are the days when CFOs were archaeologists, relying on historical data to make business decisions.
It’s all about real-time analysis, predictive modelling, and forecasting that helps businesses see around corners, rather than check things out in the rear-view mirror.
And as the world around us continues to evolve so quickly, it’s up to finance leaders to lead by example and keep their fingers firmly on the pulse of what’s going on globally.
We’ve seen time and again (especially during the pandemic) that it’s those with access to the right digital tools—and the skills to pull valuable insights from data—that aren’t just successful but the most resilient too.
As the finance sector goes through its own digital transformation, companies need to make sure they have the right talent and technology to drive success and support their teams as well as the wider business.
But more specifically, how are those in the role of CFO continuing to build resilience and positively influence the company strategy?
Here’s a closer look at four key trends from our recent report, The Redefined CFO.
1. CFOs are strategic about sustainability
The role of the CFO today calls for a healthy balance of traditional and non-traditional (mostly digital) skills.
In contrast to their professional predecessors, a future-focused CFO will find themselves putting together a strategy to adopt cryptocurrency one day, and making crucial decisions for an environmental, social and governance (ESG) programme the next.
That means you need to be versatile, and ready to not only engage with ESG initiatives, but champion them across your organisation.
In fact, almost a third (30%) of you say you’d like to be more involved in overseeing existing sustainability programmes and report on them on a regular basis.
The first step is to get up to speed on the latest sustainability issues out there, and find out where your businesses is tracking in relation to them.
Next, talk to key stakeholders across the company to put together a financially viable plan to take your ESG initiatives to the next level.
2. CFOs are investing in cryptocurrencies
Finance leaders in the UK see a bright future for cryptocurrencies, and nearly half (44%) of finance leaders believe that decentralised currencies will prove themselves to be “extremely” viable as a long-term payment solution.
Indeed, 45% of you have already invested in crypto personally, with just 2% saying you’ve no interest in investing in or using cryptocurrencies for payments.
But according to our report, CFOs do have some concerns that might get in the way of using crypto.
Being open to taking on non-traditional responsibilities will give you the rocket fuel you need to be the driving force behind crypto adoption in your organisation.
Although only 13% of UK finance leaders say their companies accept cryptocurrency as payment right now, a third (33%) say they have plans to do so in the next year, which is significant when it comes to staying competitive in the global market.
All of this suggests steady steps towards wider crypto adoption in the imminent future.
On top of that, Bitcoin’s poor environmental credentials are a likely point of conflict when it comes to upholding ESG policies within business.
This is mainly down to how Bitcoin is mined. This energy-intensive process uses computers to verify transactions, with the average transaction consuming more than 1,700 kWh of electricity.
Moving forward, this concern could be laid to rest if cryptocurrency miners commit to using low-carbon energy, or if organisations decide to only accept less energy-intensive crypto such as Ethereum.
3. CFOs are stepping into the metaverse
While the world is still trying to get to grips with the metaverse, finance leaders are considering the potential of this convergence of our digital and physical lives.
The metaverse connects people through virtual environments and other digital touchpoints.
Though still in its infancy, it could be a goldmine of opportunities for organisations to free up human resources where possible, among other benefits.
For example, enhanced data visualisation provided by this emerging tech could give finance teams more precise, frictionless ways of working.
UK-based organisations are tiptoeing into virtual environments—caution is the key theme here.
But already, almost a third (30%) of finance leaders say their business has completely entered the metaverse, while more than half (58%) say they have moderately progressed into it but still have a way to go.
So, what’s the best way to approach the metaverse?
Part of the answer lies in making sure your teams have the kinds of non-traditional skills necessary to gradually enter the metaverse.
To that end, 54% of UK finance leaders say they are developing professional development training around the metaverse.
There are a range of actions required to prepare a company for the metaverse.
Finance leaders in the UK say they are preparing for new financial regulations (49%), exploring new finance or accounting processes (47%) and purchasing virtual real estate via NFTs (non-fungible tokens) (44%) as part of this preparation.
4. CFOs are developing a clear purpose and ESG strategy
It really is all about ESG for today’s finance futurist. While 80% of UK CFOs have increased their involvement in these initiatives in the past year, some want to take things up a notch.
Looking beyond their current initiatives, around a third of CFOs would like to commit a certain percentage of budget or organisational resources to sustainability programming.
CFOs in the UK are passionate about safeguarding their organisation’s ESG programmes, making sure they’re effective and that employees are engaged.
Nine in 10 (93%) of UK finance leaders agree that their ESG programme is run efficiently and achieving the maximum output for the allocated budget. This gives them a solid foundation for making those programmes even better in the years to come.
When it comes to sector variation, finance leaders who work for UK non-profits are (unsurprisingly) the most concerned with societal issues.
Interestingly, though, fewer non-profit finance leaders say they are prepared to use digital tools to boost their sustainability compared to other industries—less than a third (31%) say they’re ready.
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