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CFO Surveys: Reflecting on 2023 to Avoid Surprises in 2024

In 2023, finance leaders faced unexpected challenges – the resilient U.S. economy, fluctuating interest rates, tight labor markets, mainstream artificial intelligence (AI) adoption, and heightened global instability. Amid surprises, leaders adapted plans and budgets.


Amidst 2023's surprises, chief financial officers (CFOs) gleaned these crucial lessons from recent surveys of finance leaders including:


1. Workforce Planning Challenges:

  • Workforce planning emerged as a top concern for almost half of the respondents.

  • CFOs grappled with managing workforce budgets due to unforeseen growth projections.

  • Swift access to data and intuitive analysis tools proved essential for accurate forecasts.

  • CFOs, armed with early insights, enabled quicker reactions, allowing businesses more effective responses.


2. C-Suite Partnerships:

  • CFOs solidified their role as strategic advisors by forming tight bonds across the business.

  • Collaboration and trust with executives, notably the CEO, CMO, and Chief Product Officer, played a crucial role.

  • Surprisingly, the Chief People Officer didn't make the top three, emphasizing the need for alignment in managing workforce challenges.

  • Spending more time with decision-makers across the business became vital for understanding performance and averting surprises.


3. AI Integration:

  • AI and generative AI gained significant momentum, prompting CFOs to grapple with understanding their benefits and risks.

  • Increased investments in AI startups and technology solutions intensified the pressure on CFOs to keep pace with competitors.

  • AI demonstrated effectiveness in enhancing efficiency, productivity, customer experience, cost reduction, and data analysis.

  • Top AI use cases in finance included report generation, forecasting, and identifying data anomalies.

  • Generative AI exhibited promise in automatically explaining variances, summarizing reports, and offering suggestions for informed decision-making.


In navigating 2023's challenges, CFOs embraced lessons in strategic workforce planning, fostering alliances across the business, and harnessing the potential of AI for financial growth and profitability.


CFOs, recognizing the advantages of modernization and digitization, are allocating more resources. However, the urgency to accelerate this transition is emphasized. Delaying the shift hinders the adoption of automated processes, reduces friction, allows for deeper data exploration, and establishes a foundation for finance-focused AI technologies. Swift modernization promises enhanced insights and the elimination of unforeseen challenges.


Reflecting on 2023's lessons—improving workforce planning, fostering collaboration, investing in AI, and modernizing finance technology—CFOs can position themselves for a robust start in 2024. Proactive moves to enhance financial operations will equip them to face surprises with composed confidence.


If you are a business owner or CEO within the San Francisco Bay Area or Silicon Valley, in need of an experienced fractional or outsourced CFO to help your company improve profit margins, as well as identify strategic opportunities, and improve cash flow, our highly skilled outsourced CFO services provide direct access to high-quality expertise in a cost-effective manner.

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