CFOs focus on profitability and growth in 2017

Against a backdrop of economic uncertainity, chief financial officers (CFOs) are focusing on increasing profitability (41%) and driving overall company growth (39%) in the year ahead. 

  • Four in 10 CFOs and FDs aim to improve financial performance and grow margins
  • Digitisation and automation emerge as a priority
  • Skills development remains a challenge, driving talent management up the CFOs agenda

London, 21 February 2017 – Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, chief financial officers (CFOs) are focusing on increasing profitability (41%) and driving overall company growth (39%) in the year ahead. Research from leading interim recruitment specialist, Robert Half Management Resources has shown that CFOs and finance directors (FDs) will assume more responsibility for balancing traditional financial responsibilities with developing business strategy.

Nearly two-fifths of finance directors also highlighted implementing new technologies as a priority for the next 12 months. A third of CFOs and FDs are planning to use temporary or interim professionals for business transformation projects to either fill vacated positions or support active expansion. In the long-term, 31% of finance executives plan to actively add new permanent positions to implement the company’s digitisation and automation efforts over the next 12 months.

“The pace of change continues to accelerate rapidly and digital transformation is set to fundamentally change businesses,” explained Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK, UAE and South America. “CFOs are focused on seeking out new commercial opportunities that support growth, which means they need to embrace the potential that emerging technologies offer and consider whether they have the right people in the business to support digitisation programmes.”  

As the CFO remit continues to evolve to support operational decision-making, finance directors highlighted increasing workloads (36%), pressure to improve financial performance or margins (32%) and executing general financial activities such as forecasting, budgeting and accounting (28%) as the biggest challenges for 2017. To overcome these concerns, CFOs and FDs are planning to work with interim professionals in financial budgeting and forecasting (42%), financial planning and analysis (40%) and controlling (40%).

“Finance executives are preparing to take a series of measures to improve the performance of the finance function. However with skilled professionals in short supply finance professionals are needing to utilise the interim professionals, consultancy services or a blend of both to provide a fresh perspective on delivering measurable, commercial business outcomes,” concluded Sheridan. “For many, this will mean building out a project team to drive forward the digitalisation agenda and then integrate these .”

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Notes to editors

The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior finance executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and