Optimising financial processes

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CEOs and CFOs Focus on Near Term Challenges

I read two related pieces this week, an article in Fortune by Lance Lambert and the 2023 Global Finance Trends Survey of CFOs from the team at Protiviti.

CEOs turned somewhat bearish this quarter, following several quarters of improving optimism. In the latest survey, 48% expressed a “pessimistic” or “very pessimistic” outlook for the global economy in the next 12 months. This marks an increase from 38% in June.

Geopolitical instability and inflation topped the charts as you might expect, with skills shortage, regulation and cyber risk ranked as other priority issues.

  • 36% of CEOs say they expect their firm’s growth to be strong (33%) or very strong (3%) over the coming 12 months. Another 50% said modest, while 12% said either weak (9%) or very weak (3%).
  • 48% of CEOs have a “pessimistic” (47%) or “very pessimistic” (1%) outlook of the global economy over the next 12 months, up from 38% just four months ago.
  • 51% CEOs say increased interest rates have had a “modest” impact on their business. Another 22% said a “significant impact”, while 23% said “no impact.”
  • 30% of CEOs say they’ve reduced their investment in China, while 1% say they’ve increased their investment in China.

Meanwhile CFOs, in sharing their priorities for the coming year, also reflect that economic issues are concerning, with the impact of inflation “looming large”.

However, this CFO survey also reflects some key “waves of change” in business in 2023, not least key emphasis on;

  • The rise of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) requirements to a top priority, fuelled by regulators, capital markets, consumers and employees.
  • Business Planning & Analysis (BP&A, FP&A) and the associated data insights for reporting, analysis and strategic planning
  • Talent & Skills
  • Security & Privacy
  • Cloud and Mobile applications
  • Process Improvement

As with all surveys, the results are somewhat dependent upon the prompts/questions, and I question whether Generative AI is genuinely a key priority for the CFO (considering all the others!), or whether it reflects the curiosity, interest and exploration of those surveyed, and of all of us.

These are challenging times, and these perspectives and related details from the CEO and CFO are worth reading.

You can read Lance Lambert’s article in Fortune “Respect the lag? CEOs turned more bearish this quarter” here . . .

You can read the Protiviti research report “Accelerate: 2023 Global Finance Trends Survey” here . . .

Thanks for reading . . .