Today's CFO wears many hats.
According to new research from Accenture, most senior finance executives now have an expanded scope of responsibilities, with finance overseeing programs in other departments across the enterprise.
The departments where senior finance executives most frequently said they also now manage projects include: information technology (43 percent), strategy and business development (41 percent), and human resources (39 percent). They also mentioned having program responsibilities in risk and customer service (37 percent each), procurement (35 percent), marketing and sales (33 percent), research and development (30 percent), and supply chain management (25 percent).
Accenture's survey of more than 1,000 senior finance executives across Asia, Europe and North and South America also found that increased operational flexibility is an emerging priority. More than three-fourths (79 percent) of those polled want more flexibility in their operations to more readily respond to ongoing market changes. More than half (58 percent) said this increased flexibility would be needed across their operations for the next six to 18 months. 22 percent of the executives said they would require greater flexibility in their finance operations for a longer period of time -- 18 months or more. Fewer than one out of four (22 percent) said greater flexibility would be necessary for less than six months.
In addition, 78 percent said flexibility is needed in their planning and forecasting, rather than the traditional annual process. More than half also said they needed greater flexibility in their cost management (61 percent), transaction processing (60 percent), cash management (58 percent), performance reporting (58 percent), capital expenditure management (56 percent) and asset management (54 percent).
The new research also found that:
To enable greater market responsiveness, 84 percent of the executives said they need to update their processes, data or content (including analytics), IT systems and/or workforce centralization.
Half of the finance executives said they are developing a new strategy for their finance organization.
46 percent have increased or are increasing their focus on training and developing finance personnel, and 41 percent plan to do that in the next 18 months.
43 percent have increased their use of shared services or outsourcing in finance, and 40 percent plan to do so in the next 18 months.
And, 43 percent have increased or are increasing their recruitment of finance professionals while 36 percent expect to increase their recruiting in the next 18 months.
"The economic crisis left the corporate finance function stretched by additional responsibilities and rapidly changing market dynamics that require nimble operations to quickly adapt to new business realities," said Paul Boulanger, managing director of the Accenture Finance & Performance Management service line. "With corporations operating in a more volatile business environment, finance must be integrated across the enterprise and have a strong grasp of overall business objectives so they can provide guidance and early warning to the C-suite when circumstances dictate a change of course."