Skip to main content Skip to Footer

Accenture 2014 high performance finance study: The CFO as architect of business value

CFOs lay the foundation for digital revolution by simplifying business processes and matching the velocity of data to the speed of decisions.

Overview

This study aims to understand the impact of globalization and technology on the CFO agenda, and how finance organizations establish the foundation for the digital enterprise by simplifying processes and enabling analytics to drive economic outcomes.

Background
The findings in this research are based on interim findings from 617 global respondents versus 47 Benelux respondents:

  • Almost 40 percent of respondents represent companies with revenues in excess of US$10 billion
  • Some 62 percent of respondents were CFOs and the remainder were other senior finance executives
  • Respondents were evenly spread across Benelux, and represent all key industries

Background

Our Benelux study produced the following five key high-level findings:

Permanent volatility is a key concern for Benelux CFOs.
Almost half of Benelux CFOs surveyed say that permanent volatility is having a high impact on the finance function, a greater proportion than for the global sample (38 percent). To some extent, CFOs in Benelux are playing catch-up on these issues.

Managing complexity is a major challenge.
Complexity, in its various guises, is the biggest challenge finance organizations face today. Similar to their global counterparts, surveyed Benelux CFOs find complex legacy systems to be one of their biggest challenges, with 57 percent highlighting this as a leading issue. They also find it more difficult than their global peers to manage the complex needs of different stakeholders, with 57 percent identifying this as a major problem, compared with 48 percent of global respondents.

Benelux CFOs are increasing their influence over business transformation efforts.
Like CFOs elsewhere, surveyed Benelux CFOs have seen their influence increase across many key activities, particularly in strategic decision-making. Their organizations are much more likely to have embarked on supply chain optimization and sustainability initiatives than their global peers.

Maturity of Benelux companies’ operating models lags global peers.
Only 27 percent of surveyed Benelux organizations have a global business services operating model, compared with more than half of their global peers. Moreover, almost one-quarter of Benelux organizations have no shared services model at all.

Benelux organizations are less likely to invest in digital technologies.
In general, surveyed Benelux organizations are less likely than their global peers to use digital technologies to achieve key business objectives. This reinforces the findings of our 2011 High Performance Finance Study which observed that Dutch CFOs had to rethink their focus on finance cost reduction and selectively invest in capabilities to drive more business value.

Analysis

According to our study, the finance function in Benelux has made progress in adapting to new realities:

  1. Permanent volatility remains a key challenge, but finance leaders have made relatively good progress in setting up systems to help them manage this and other aspects of complexity.
  2. Like respondents elsewhere, surveyed Benelux CFOs have become more established partners to their CEOs across many key activities, particularly in strategic decision-making.
  3. One area where they will use their increased influence is to evolve the business service operating model, where organizations in Benelux lag their global peers.
  4. Another area that will require attention is digital technology: A global comparison suggests respondent companies in Benelux may be under-investing in capabilities such as analytics to support planning, budgeting and forecasting.

Recommendations

The evolving CFO agenda means a new role for the CFO as the architect of business value. Three key imperatives define this role:

  1. CFOs should align their functions with broader strategic goals, taking a wider role in partnership with the CEO and leading the finance function to deliver on strategic objectives.
  2. CFOs should transform operating models, with a focus on value-added efficiency, agility and flexibility.
  3. CFOs need to embrace digital technologies, both for the finance function and for the enterprise overall.