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CFOs Say Time Is Their Scarcest Resource

The biggest challenge facing CFOs today is managing their own time, far outweighing other concerns such as keeping up with technology or accounting...
Stephen TaubOctober 20, 2006

According to a new survey, nearly half (46 percent) of CFOs cited time management as their greatest challenge these days.

This was more than double the second most common response — keeping up with technology — cited by 22 percent of the 1,400 CFOs surveyed by Robert Half Management Resources.

“In addition to managing core fiscal functions, many financial executives also have operational responsibilities, board activities and compliance-related duties that consume much of the day,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, in a press release. “These obligations make it challenging to prioritize competing demands.”

To a large degree, the Robert Half survey results echo a similar study by CFO magazine in November 2004, in which 68 percent of executives said they were feeling more pressure, and had increased their average work week from 49 hours a week (in 2002) to 52.9 hours.

In the Robert Half survey, CFOs were asked, “In your opinion, which one of the following is the greatest challenge for financial executives today?”

Back in 2001, just 36 percent of CFOs cited time management as the most common response, while keeping up with technology was singled out by 27 percent of the group.

On the other hand, CFOs seem relatively comfortable dealing with all of the accounting rules. In this year’s survey, only 17 percent said “staying current with accounting regulations” was their greatest challenge, ranking it third. This is, however, an increase from 13 percent in 2001.

In sharp contrast to the CFO survey, however, only 13 percent of the Robert Half respondents said they had trouble “achieving work/life balance,” down from 19 percent five years ago. In the CFO magazine survey, finance executives complained about a variety of work/life imbalances, and 63 percent said they believed the stress of their jobs was taking a toll on their health.