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The Future of the CFO: From Number Cruncher to Value Driver

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Future of the CFO

Future of the CFO: From Number Cruncher to Value Driver

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In today’s fast-paced business landscape, a company’s chief financial officer (CFO) is more integral to operations than ever. In fact, about 41% of CFOs spend the majority of their time on non-finance related activities, fueling data-driven decisions across the business.

The only problem? Leaders outside of finance still see CFOs contributing the most value in traditional finance areas, such as accounting and controlling.

Today’s infographic from Raconteur explores the expanding scope of CFO responsibilities, as well as the perception gap between CFOs and non-finance leaders when it comes to the former’s primary value-driving activities.

The CFO’s Expanding Role

Traditionally, the CFO was focused on financial reporting and issues such as compliance, accounts, and taxation. However, the scope of a CFO’s duties has increased dramatically in recent years. Thanks to technological advances, CFOs are now able to access massive amounts of data on their organization’s operational and financial performance.

“This puts the finance function at the heart or, arguably, the mind of the business from the outset, with many now being crowned as the ‘stewards’ of the long-term enterprise vision.”

Robin Bryson, Interim CFO at Impero Software

Armed with data, CFOs can help predict headwinds, forecast performance, and make informed decisions across departments. In a global survey, McKinsey asked finance leaders about the breadth of their responsibilities. Of the CFOs who said they spend they a majority of their time on non-finance tasks, here’s where their attention is focused:

Activity% of CFOs Focused on Activity
Strategic leadership46%
Organizational transformation45%
Performance management35%
Capital allocation24%
Big data and analytics20%
Finance capabilities18%
Technology trends5%
Other (e.g. risk management)5%

However, other business leaders remain in the dark about this broader role.

Differing Views

While the CFO’s job description has evolved considerably, outside perceptions of it have not. In a survey of both CFOs and non-finance leaders, there is a clear difference of opinion with regards to where financial leaders create the most value:

Areas in which CFOs have created the most financial value% of CFOs who agree% of others who agree
Performance management39%19%
Strategic leadership39%25%
Traditional finance roles33%47%
Organizational transformation33%21%
Finance capabilities30%15%
Speciality finance roles30%27%
Cost and productivity management26%42%
Support for digital capabilities and advanced analytics15%10%
Mergers and acquisitions (including post-merger integration)14%23%
Capital allocation10%22%
Pricing of products and/or services10%8%
Management of activist investors3%3%

CFOs see their largest contributions in the areas of performance management and strategic leadership, while others still consider the CFO’s value to be derived primarily from traditional finance and cost/productivity management.

How can CFOs demonstrate their increased responsibility to leaders outside of the finance realm?

Closing the Gap

According to McKinsey, CFOs can demonstrate their expanded role in three main ways:

1. Actively head up transformations.

While CFOs are already playing a role in transformations, non-finance leaders are less likely to perceive them as making strategic contributions. CFOs also tend to initiate the most transformations in the finance function alone.

To change perceptions, CFOs can lead enterprise-wide transformations, and communicate their strategic value through activities like high-level goal setting.

2. Lead the charge towards digitization and automation.

Few organizations have initiated the shift in a substantial way, with only ⅓ of finance respondents saying their companies digitized or automated more than 25% of their work in the last year.

However, the payoff is well worth the effort. Among those that have undertaken this level of change, 70% reported modest to substantial returns on investment.

3. Develop talent and capabilities across the organization.

CFOs have begun increasing their value through talent-building, but there is still a significant amount of room for further growth.

For example, CFOs can build capabilities during transformations, teach financial topics to non-finance leaders, and develop top talent across the organization.

Through these various strategies, CFOs can foster collaboration and understanding between departments—and succeed in their broader roles.

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Ranked: America’s Best Places to Work in 2024

Glassdoor’s annual list is determined by an algorithm that converts reviews to ratings—here are America’s 15 best places to work since 2020.

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A cropped chart with Glassdoor's top 15 ranking of America's Best Places to Work since 2020.

Which Companies Are Considered America’s Best Places to Work?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Research is divided on when is the best time to look for a new job, but it’s undeniable that a new year tends to hasten psychological effects: new beginnings, fresh clarity, and a renewed purpose. So for those on the lookout, it’s also useful to know which companies are the best places to work in the country—as rated by their employees.

Based on data gathered by recruiting website Glassdoor, here are America’s top 15 best places to work in 2024.

Glassdoor’s results are determined by their ‘proprietary algorithm’ which converts workplace reviews (rating companies on nine attributes like compensation, benefits, culture, etc.) from current and former employees, into a ranking. To read their full methodology, visit their website.

Ranked: America’s Best Places to Work in 2024

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, consulting firm Bain & Company is the best place to work in 2024 according to their employees on Glassdoor. The company’s page specifies what makes them so good: benefits, reliable teammates, growth opportunities, and crucially, strong leadership.

Here’s America’s top 15 best places to work in in 2024.

Rank Best Places to Work (2024)
1Bain & Company
2NVIDIA
3ServiceNow
4MathWorks
5Procore Technologies
6In-N-Out Burger
7VMware
8Deltek
92020 Companies
10Fidelity Investments
11Crew Carwash
12Keller Williams
13Delta Air Lines
14Raymond James Financial
15Adobe

Chipmaker Nvidia, whose stock has been on a tear in the last year, ranks second. Reviews cite work flexibility, workplace culture, and of course, focused leadership. In fact, Jensen Huang was recently rated America’s most popular CEO by professional social networking site Blind.

Three mid-sized tech companies, ServiceNow (cloud computing), MathWorks (mathematical computing software), and Procore Technologies (construction management software), round out the top five best workplaces in America.

Ranked in sixth is a break from the norm so far: beloved fast food place, In-N-Out Burger.

Missing from 2024’s list is Google which has dropped to 26th from eigth place in 2023. By doing so: no Big Tech company features in the top 15 best places to work for the first time in five years.

Rank 2020202120222023
1HubSpotBain & CoNVIDIAGainsight
2Bain & CoNVIDIAHubSpotBox
3DocuSignIn-N-Out BurgerBain & CoBain & Co
4In-N-Out BurgerHubSpoteXp RealtyMcKinsey
5Sammons Financial
Group
McKinseyBoxNVIDIA
6Lawrence Livermore
National Lab
GoogleBCGMathWorks
7Intuitive SurgicalDelta Air LinesGoogleBCG
8UKGLululemonVeterans United
Home Loans
Google
9VIPKidMicrosoftLululemonServiceNow
10Southwest AirlinesH E B SalesforceIn-N-Out Burger
11GoogleMetaRoyal Caribbean
Group
HubSpot
12LinkedInBCGNASA Jet
Propulsion
Slalom
13BCGLinkedInFive9Microsoft
14Trader Joe'sStrykerTwilioAdobe
15CoverMyMedsDocuSign
Johns Hopkins
Applied Physics
CrowdStrike

In fact, Big Tech does surprisingly poorly on these rankings despite the record profit and revenue they pull in every year.

Tech & Consulting Losing Sheen

A chart showing Glassdoor's rankings of major tech and consulting companies on their Best Places to Work list since 2019.

Apple for example has never been ranked higher than 31—which they achieved back in 2021.

Microsoft and Meta have done better in the past, but together with Google have slid down Glassdoor’s rankings rapidly, in conjunction with the recurring mass layoffs they’ve executed in the last two years.

And while Bain & Co head this year’s list, other major players in the same space—Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company—are now at their worst ranks since 2019.

Smaller consulting firms have been struggling in the last year or so, as higher interest rates have hit everything from technology companies, to banks, to real estate conglomerates—all usual clients for consulting companies.

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