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Sustainability, international expansion and tech adoption key priorities for UK CFOs and CEOs

Sustainability, international expansion and tech adoption key priorities for UK CFOs and CEOs

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Ninety-seven percent of UK CFOs believe their role has become more complex during the last two years, a survey from global payables automation company, Tipalti Europe, has revealed. The poll, which quizzed more than 300 UK CFOs and CEOs about the position of the finance leader, highlights the increasing pressures and responsibilities placed on the finance leader today, and the greater collaboration needed with the C-suite.

As UK businesses continue to face uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the constantly changing environment brought about by Brexit, Tipalti research shows the increasing amount of responsibilities placed on the modern CFO and finance director to support businesses. In general, a fifth (20%) of UK CFOs say they’ve seen a greater demand placed on them by the CEO and board, a key factor that has made their job more complex. In addition to this, over a third (39%) believe collaboration with the CEO and other members of the C-suite has become more necessary than before to the office of the CFO.

As the CFO’s job scope continues to grow, Tipalti’s research highlights the areas making their job more complex and key focuses for both CFOs and CEOs in the year ahead – those being environmental sustainability initiatives, international growth and technology adoption. However, with nearly a third (29%) of CFOs stating they are having to deal with more manual finance operations and have a more strategic role across the business (23%), it’s having the time to wear multiple hats that proves challenging.

Sustainability is a key focus

Highlighting the ever-growing to do list of a CFO, over a quarter (27%) of CFOs describe incorporating ESG (environmental, social and governance)/sustainability into their role as a main driver of complexity. The origin of this priority is clear as CEOs (29%) cite the ability to develop ESG capabilities as the most important quality needed in a CFO today, compared to five years ago – undoubtedly as strong ESG ratings become ever more critical for investors, and therefore adding the responsibilities of the CFO.

International growth remains pivotal

Tipalti’s research highlights over a quarter (28%) of UK CEOs believe helping the business grow internationally is a top priority for the CFO in 2021, and beyond, 23% of CFOs believed the same. However, a fifth (22%) of CFOs admit international expansion is something which has made their role more complex. An alarming finding of the survey is that nearly a fifth (16%) of CFOs say keeping finance operations up with company growth has too been a challenge. What is comforting is that CEOs are on board with a fix – with a third (29%) stating that adopting solutions to enhance efficiency is their biggest priority to help achieve growth.

Modernising the finance department

For over a quarter (27%) of CFOs, the global pandemic was cited as a reason for their role becoming more complex in the last two years. For a third (30%) of CFOs, adopting new technologies is a primary focus for the remainder of the year and beyond. This desire is matched with UK CEOs believing that the ability to prioritise innovation (25%), and the ability to improve financial and business reporting accuracy and timeliness (28%) are important qualities for a successful CFO today.

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