Ask a group of Chief Financial Officers what their biggest challenge is, and the answers will have a common theme: uncertainty. Whether it is an inability to hire the right people or the concern of ransomware holding financial data hostage, it is always the unknown that presents the tallest hurdle to success.
In order to alleviate future challenges and best clear the path forward, organizations in any industry must first be aware of the top CFO challenges expected in 2017.
Attracting Top Talent
Arguably the greatest challenge for a CFO in 2017 will be overcoming the difficulty of attracting top talent to their team. While 72% of leaders can attest to the fact that this is not a new phenomenon, there are no signs of this trend changing in the near future. With a 2.2% unemployment rate in the accounting profession, the pool of available talent is scarce.
The longer a role goes unfilled, the greater the negative impact becomes on efficiency. If CFOs are left shorthanded for too long, then existing staff becomes overloaded, deadlines are missed, and the trickle-down effect can be disastrous for the entire organization. The research and recruitment of the best industry candidates, even if they are currently employed with a competitor, is essential.
There is no denying that cyberattacks are becoming larger, more powerful, and more prevalent. Ransomware has evolved into sophisticated software, recently forcing L.A. College to pay $28,000 in order to get back their own files. Even if an organization manages to beat ransomware without paying a fee, any amount of time that essential company files are held hostage will affect the bottom line.
Outside of ransomware, cyberattacks present a massive credibility issue for organizations with increasing frequency. Toward the end of 2016, tech giant Yahoo announced a security breach of over one billion users. Once customer or client trust in a business is lost it can be extremely difficult to regain, and the hit that revenue will take as a result should be enough to scare any CFO into implementing preventative cybersecurity measures.
CFOs are no stranger to regulatory updates, but 2017 is set to see some of the biggest changes in recent memory. New border-adjustment tax proposals have sent many organizations into a frenzy as they look into the possibility of moving operations inside U.S. borders or face a large hit to profits. Even if an organization has no manufacturing component outside of America, the as-of-yet unknown changes to corporate tax laws should have every executive board room keeping an eye on news and preparing to react quickly.
The amount of data that enters any organization each day is astounding, but it is often the case that this information does not become as useful as it could be. In fact, 69% of CFOs reported that keeping information siloed in different departments is the most common financial mistake for companies. There is simply too much information accumulating with not enough staff to properly review and utilize it. Adding the right experts to the team is essential in breaking down the data barriers, connecting the dots, and discovering insight out of the current chaos.
Technology evolves rapidly and can change entire industries at a moment’s notice. While many innovations promise to make life easier, they often cause organizational disruptions as they are adopted into society. This creates many issues for CFOs, such as not understanding which emerging innovations are the most relevant, being unsure of their evolutionary path, and the implications of these evolutions on current business/financial models. As long as an organization can hire the right people to assist in embracing selective new technologies, then innovation does not have to be disruptive.
The Top CFO Challenges of 2017
As outlined above, the uncertainties a CFO will face in 2017 will be manifested in several ways. Whether it is searching for a new Accounting Manager, breaking down data silos, or safeguarding against the latest cyberattacks, the solution to mitigating these risks lies in hiring the right experts for a team.
For additional information on how to locate and recruit the top talent and the most up-to-date industry compensation figures, download our 2017 Finance & Accounting Salary Guide today.