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CFOs reveal their top priorities and forecast challenges

March 2017

Kiwi CFOs reveal their top priorities and forecasted challenges for 2017: survey

• The top priorities as identified by New Zealand CFOs are driving company growth (48%), implementing new technologies and increasing profitability (44% respectively), and talent management (40%).

• The top three challenges are pressure to improve performance/margins (49%), executing general finance activities (44%) and increased workloads (40%).

Auckland, 21 March 2017 – In a new survey, New Zealand Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) were asked what their top three key priorities and challenges will be in 2017. And according to independent research commissioned by specialised recruitment company Robert Half, expanding company growth (48%) tops the agenda for the country’s finance leaders over the next 12 months.

However, almost one in two (49%) cite pressure to improve company performance as the key challenge their finance function will face in 2017, indicating the focus on key priorities might not come without challenges. Further to this, 44% say performing general financial activities will be the biggest challenge, and 40% refer to increased workloads.

Megan Alexander, General Manager at Robert Half New Zealand said: “With digitisation and automation increasingly impacting the finance function, the finance sector is becoming more complex and competitive. CFOs will be expected to not only lead this change, but also support strategy development and company growth. To achieve these goals, Kiwi finance leaders need to not only provide financial direction, but also proactively identify new commercial opportunities and drive performance. In order to do so they need the support of efficient financial models, technologies, and most importantly – highly skilled staff.”

To support company expansion, more than four in 10 (44%) CFOs say increased profitability and implementing new technologies are part of their key priorities in 2017, followed by 40% who refer to talent management (staff attraction, retention and professional development).

“The adoption of new technologies inevitably means change within the workplace, specifically with digitisation and process automation, and yet New Zealand businesses can only benefit from being the quickest to adapt to this change. CFOs need to make sure they have the right teams in place, with adequate experience, soft skills and technical knowledge, in order to navigate the finance landscape that continues to evolve with technology.”

“In a competitive market, a company’s success is dependent on the performance of its staff, so businesses will need to invest in their finance team, as well as recruit top financial talent to achieve higher company growth,” Megan Alexander concluded.

New Zealand CFOs were asked:

“What are your key focus areas in 2017?”

Driving overall company growth48%
Increasing profitability44%
Implementing new technologies44%
Talent management (staff acquisition, professional development, staff retention)43%
Updating internal financial policies and procedures39%
Adding new skillsets to better perform the finance function23%
Addressing macroeconomic impacts on the business22%
Addressing areas of internal risk within the organisation14%
Adhering to audit standards8%
Addressing areas of external risk within the organisation7%
Adhering to reporting or compliance standards1%

Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 100 New Zealand CFOs – three answers per respondent.

“What will be the three biggest challenges your finance function will face in 2017?”

Pressure to improve performance/margins49%
Executing general financial activities (forecasting, budgeting, accounting, etc.)44%
Increasing workloads40%
Managing/meeting wider business expectations33%
Internal restructuring25%
Lack of requisite skills/expertise21%
Outsourcing business activities/decentralising operational activities17%
Mergers & Acquisitions15%
Lack of financial resources14%
Keeping pace with changing technology9%
Meeting accounting and financial reporting standards8%
Change management6%
Meeting regulatory compliance mandates2%

Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 100 New Zealand CFOs – three answers per respondent.


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