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Global Survey Shows Financial Leaders Becoming Drivers of Change

Key survey findings: (Source: Global Insights CFO & Financial Leadership Barometer)

  • Six out of 10 surveyed organisations are currently recruiting, with two out of three experiencing difficulties finding the right people.
  • 75% of financial leaders around the world are happy in their job. 
  • 43.1% of respondents see themselves in the same position with a larger remit in two years.
  • 61.1% of global financial leaders consider cost optimisation as their main priority, followed by process optimisation (59.6%).

3 December, 2014: A newly released study conducted by leading recruitment company Michael Page highlights the evolving role of senior finance professionals in leading change within their organisations. Among other key findings, the survey also reveals that six out of 10 are currently recruiting, especially in financial control & accounting and financial planning & analysis. However, two out of three are experiencing difficulties in finding the right people.

Four out of five financial leaders envisage significant levels of change, primarily in the areas of policy implementation (50%) and software implementation (47%). The findings also show that Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are adding new skills and responsibilities, such as HR and IT, to an already challenging remit.

“The survey discloses the challenges, motivations and ambitions of CFOs and other senior financial leaders around the world,” says Anthony Thompson, Regional Managing Director, Michael Page Greater China.

The findings highlight a change in the traditional responsibilities of financial leaders, especially CFOs, as their remits become more complex as financial management, accounting and control become at once more global and interconnected.

“While CFO roles have long been seen as critical senior positions within an organisation, the role has become more high profile externally since the financial crisis with a greater interest from the public in how companies are run both ethically and financially,” says Thompson. “This is perhaps best illustrated in Greater China with regards to an increasingly complex and rapidly changing compliance environment. This demands the CFO, who may not have this area report directly to them, to influence and lead the wider business through regulatory changes, thereby giving the required confidence to internal stakeholders and perhaps more importantly, consumers and shareholders.”

The expansion of the financial leader’s role is accompanied by high levels of job satisfaction: 75% of financial leaders report feeling happy in their current post. Many CFOs demonstrate career ambition, with 43.1% envisaging being in the same functional title though with a far broader remit in two years’ time. Only 1.7% of global survey respondents see themselves moving out of a financial leader role and becoming a CEO or MD within the next two years.

The main priorities of financial leaders around the world remain consistent with findings from the 2012 report, with 61.1% of leaders considering cost optimisation as one of their main priorities and process optimisation also featuring heavily (59.6%). However, uncertainties in international financial markets have influenced respondents, with 48.2% specifying cash and liquidity management as a top company priority.

From May to June 2014, financial leaders around the world were invited to participate in an online survey for Michael Page’s CFO & Financial Leadership Barometer. The study polled the views of financial decision makers in 70 countries worldwide and collated 2,847 responses from chief finance officers and other financial leaders in a range of industries and sectors.

The responses were independently analysed and, where applicable, comparisons were drawn with findings of the previous survey, in 2012. To view the full report, visit the Michael Page News & Research Centre.