10 Big CFO Trends for 2024

Megan O’Brien | Content Strategist | May 31, 2024

If the past several years have taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s coming around the corner. Whether it’s an emerging technology, a pandemic, or shifting economic conditions, companies are now consistently on guard for events that could change how they operate.

This reality of persistent uncertainty has elevated the role of finance—and the vital leadership of chief financial officers. Companies are looking toward the CFO’s organization to help prepare for unforeseen events, increase efficiency, lower costs, and determine the right growth investments. Key to the CFO’s evolution is the finance team’s instrumental role in growing revenue, driving technology and data initiatives, and steering the business forward. Particularly as businesses look to harness artificial intelligence, the CFO will be integral in determining the opportunities and risks presented by this emerging technology, as well as how to best use it within the finance department and the organization at large.

Where Should CFOs Focus Their Efforts?

The question of where CFOs should spend their time elicits a very different response today than it did several years ago. Instead of spending most of their time leading teams through everyday finance work—such as reporting and compliance—CFOs are now expected to take on a highly strategic role within their organizations.

Of course, accurate and timely execution of core finance duties remains essential. A CFO’s credibility still depends on reliable financial reporting and a smooth budgeting process. But that’s not enough. Effective CFOs must develop their teams and embrace automation to more efficiently manage traditional finance function responsibilities so that these requirements take up less of their time and that of their staff. Embracing automation—including the use of AI—will free CFOS up to focus on higher-value and more meaningful activities. These include as assessing growth opportunities, managing cash and investments, addressing the evolving risk landscape, identifying cost-cutting opportunities, and deriving valuable insights from data to help guide companywide decisions.

Key Takeaways

  • The role of the CFO has evolved tremendously over the last several decades, shifting from a traditional financial steward to one of the C-suite’s key strategic leaders driving change across the organization.
  • Effective CFOs have automated or delegated more traditional aspects of the finance function so they can focus on strategic tasks such as setting corporate strategy, spurring revenue growth, driving data initiatives forward, and staying ahead of evolving risks and regulations.
  • The current business environment has CFOs focusing a lot of energy on cost cutting, cash management, digital transformation, risk management, and talent attraction and retention.
  • The emphasis on cash management, technology adoption, and cost optimization particularly reflects the pressure on CFOs to do more with less and drive profitable growth in the organization.

Stay Ahead of the Latest Trends with ERP

Technology is one of the most powerful levers CFOs can pull to effectively manage their numerous responsibilities. With a complete cloud ERP system, CFOs can get a single unified view for quick insights into all parts of the business to help stay ahead of problems and budget variances that might impact the company’s financial position.

Spanning accounting, financial, and operational planning as well as supply chain and procurement, this holistic view helps CFOs navigate trends and implement best practices so they can lead their organizations to profitable growth. With Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, CFOs can also take advantage of such advanced capabilities as AI-powered automation of manual processes, real-time business analytics, and automatic updates to stay ahead of the competition.

CFO Trends FAQs

Where Should CFOs Focus Their Efforts?
Effective CFOs must develop their teams and embrace automation to more efficiently manage traditional finance function responsibilities so that these requirements take up less of their time and that of their staff. Embracing automation—including the use of AI—will free CFOS up to focus on higher-value and more meaningful activities. These include assessing growth opportunities, managing cash and investments, addressing the evolving risk landscape, identifying cost-cutting opportunities, and deriving valuable insights from data to help guide companywide decisions.

What is digitalization of finance and accounting?
The digitalization of finance and accounting refers to using computers and software to run the various business processes needed to track a company’s transactions, investments, cash flow, and similar financial activities. Through digitalization, finance and accounting can use these technologies to reduce manual tasks, analyze large amounts of data, increase efficiency, and reduce errors.

What is the role of a CFO in 2024?
The role of the CFO consists of broad regulatory, tactical, and strategic responsibilities across controllership, operations, budgeting, strategy, and forecasting. They also play a key part in business model transformation, helping companies automate functions, gather and interpret data, and make informed decisions to drive the business forward.

What are some of the challenges CFOs face in 2024?
Some of the key challenges CFOs will face in 2024 concern balancing profit with growth. The once prevalent “grow-at-all-costs” mindset is out, as companies increasingly seek smart, sustainable growth opportunities. For finance leads, this approach means they’ll have to grapple with cutting the right costs, identifying the best investment opportunities, maintaining a strong cash position, and getting as many benefits as possible from their technology investments.

What is the future of the CFO role?
The role of the CFO has changed drastically over the last few decades, from primarily overseeing back-office responsibilities—the books and records of the company, financial reporting, and statutory compliance—to acting as a strategic advisor to the CEO and C-suite peers. As companies look to increase their use of data and apply artificial intelligence in their operations, CFOs need to become the go-to source for data-driven financial insights and trends that can support informed business decisions across departments.

What do CFOs worry about?
A CFO’s fundamental concern is running out of cash—not having enough liquidity to meet short-term obligations such as payroll, debt, and suppliers, and thus having to declare bankruptcy. Less drastically, CFOs worry about managing the use of company cash wisely, making the right investments to support growth, and getting paid promptly by customers. CFOs also worry about the impact of macroeconomic trends on their business, including financial factors such as monetary and fiscal policy and consumer confidence, and non-financial factors such as geopolitical unrest and supply chain disruptions.

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