CFOs play defense

CFOs' priorities have shifted considerably in the last couple of years as cutting costs and driving efficiencies becomes the No. 1 priority, up from a ranking of eighth in 2021, according to a recent report published by U.S. Bank. 

Four things to know:

1. A potential recession and broader market uncertainty — as well as ongoing macroeconomic and workforce challenges — have reorganized finance leaders' top priorities, according to the report. CFOs cannot ask other business functions or departments to trim spending with authority if they do not lead by example.

2. On the other end of the spectrum, less weight has been placed on growth initiatives for some, according to the report. In 2021, driving revenue growth was CFOs' second-highest priority. Now, it ranks fifth. Increasing cash flow tied for third two years ago but sits at the bottom of the most recent report. 

3. However, the current relentless focus on cost control may come at the expense of future growth, according to survey respondents. Fifty-six percent reported that they struggle to balance cost-cutting and building resiliency with investment in future growth, up from 46% in 2021.

4. Similar to the previous year, CFOs' three most important business risks are talent shortages, high inflation and the pace of technology change. 

Editor's note: Survey results are based on responses from 1,420 senior finance leaders who work in U.S. businesses across multiple sectors. Half of the survey participants are group, regional or divisional CFOs; the remainder are senior managers within the finance function. Every surveyed finance leader works for a business that generates at least $100 million in annual revenue, and 39% for a business that generates more than $1 billion.

Click here for more details on the report.

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