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The Top Three Organizational Priorities that Matter Most to CEOs and CFOs in 2023

According to the recent 2023 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) are aligned on these three key priorities:

Priority number one: Meet or exceed growth expectations

CEOs and CFOs are under increased investor and owner pressure to show profitable growth. Forty-five percent of CEOs rank growth among their top three strategic priorities, down from 53 percent in 2022, while 62 percent of CFOs put it in their top three, up from 59 percent in 2022.

Balancing future growth investments and CEO expectations while still tightly managing cost and cash flow is the tightrope CFOs must walk in the back half of 2023,” says Marko Horvat, VP of Research with the finance practice at Gartner.

As the current number one priority, encouraging profitable growth through capital responsiveness enables:

1. The prioritization of projects that align with strategic business priorities.

2. Significant, rather than incremental, changes to where capital is allocated.

3. The ability to quickly shift capital away from low value to high uses.

Few companies consistently do any of these three things, but those who do, see real financial benefits.

Priority number two: Keep investing in technology

Both CEOs and CFOs name technology as one of their organization’s top business priorities through 2023 and 2024, but CEOs are a bit more risk-averse when it comes to increasing funding for IT. While many areas of technology are of interest, CEOs and CFOs agree that artificial intelligence (AI) will most significantly affect their business over the next three years.

However, it’s most likely not fully utilized yet: 80 precent of finance functions that are using AI have only done so in the past two years. These five forces are driving CFOs and CEOs to unlock the power of AI, specifically generative AI:

  1. Boards and CEOs expect C-suite leaders to protect the organization while driving broad use case adoption.

  2. Customers continue to leverage generative AI in their daily lives, which affects their expectations for user experience.

  3. Employees are concerned about job loss, yet may eventually leave organizations where they can’t fully leverage generative AI.

  4. Investors expect new sources of growth and much better margins, placing pressure on leaders to deliver results.

  5. It has the potential to create new markets and/or new lines of business for organizations to expand service offerings and increase revenue.

Priority number three: Prioritize workforce issues and address the talent shortage

CEOs rank workforce issues as the second-most-pressing priority for their organizations, while it ranks fourth for CFOs. However, both agree that shortages in key areas are damaging to business. Talent is necessary for future growth and profitability. As such, there is a need to improve retention, attraction and talent development. To do this:

  1. Offer your employees the opportunity to upskill and develop digital skills — for example, through a digital accelerator program.

  2. Create a shared sense of purpose and belonging to improve retention.

  3. Revamp job descriptions to make them outcomes-based, engaging, human, and focused on growth — and attract top-tier finance candidates.

If you are a business owner or CEO within the San Francisco Bay Area or Silicon Valley, in need of an experienced fractional 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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