Where the CFO Would Like to Be

More than half of the chief financial officers we surveyed say they don't spend enough time on strategic planning.
CFO StaffJune 22, 2004

Many CFOs wish they were someplace else — namely, the corner office, if not as the full-time inhabitant then at least as a frequent visitor. That is, they’d like to spend more time advising the CEO on long-term strategy and less time analyzing costs, metrics, and the like.

So says a survey by CFO Research Services and Geac Corp., which polled 140 senior finance execs across all industries on the topic of how they and their finance teams contribute to business strategy. While only 40 percent say they do, in fact, play that senior advisory role, nearly two-thirds hope to do so within two years. To free up that time, they’d like to spend less effort on costs, expenses, profitability measures, and the analysis that goes along with them.

But what sort of planning and advising would they like to do? Asked about their ability to create a plan to pursue promising opportunities, more than 40 percent rate their capabilities as “high” in the area of cost control, while approximately 34 percent give themselves that grade for organic growth and only 26 percent claim that status in the area of alliances/mergers and acquisitions.

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Maybe it’s a matter of practice: fewer than 10 percent say they spend too much time on strategic planning, while more than half say they don’t spend enough.