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

The Average Lot Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

Lot sizes in the U.S. are shrinking compared to a few decades ago. Here’s a look at the average lot size in every U.S. state.

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Comparing average lot sizes in every U.S. state

The Average Lot Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

The “American Dream” is often associated with imagery of spacious estates adorned with white picket fences, wrap-around porches, and sprawling green lawns that seem to go on forever.

But in reality, modern American life has become much more compact. Over the last few decades, the average lot size in the U.S. has decreased significantly—from 18,760 square feet in 1978 to 13,896 in 2020.

While average lot sizes are getting smaller overall, there are still large discrepancies in lot sizes from state to state. This graphic by Angi uses data from the 2022 U.S. Lot Size Index to show the average lot size in every U.S. State, using data from 312,456 Zillow listings as of May 2022.

Largest and Smallest Average Lot Sizes by State

When it comes to the states with the largest plots of land, New England dominates the ranking, with Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine at the top of the list.

RankStateMedian lot size (sq.ft.)
1Vermont78,408
2New Hampshire49,223
3Maine45,738
4Montana43,560
5Alaska42,423
6Mississippi31,799
7Connecticut30,928
8Arkansas24,829
9Tennessee24,394
10Georgia22,215

New England was one of the first regions settled by the Europeans in Colonial America. This long history, along with a large rural population, could explain why the area has strict zoning policies that limit density and require large minimum lot sizes for new builds.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Nevada ranks as the state with the smallest average lot size:

RankStateMedian lot size (sq.ft.)
1Nevada7,405
2California8,327
3Arizona8,726
4Illinois9,025
5Texas9,540
6Colorado10,019
7Florida10,019
8North Dakota10,019
9New Jersey10,019
10Ohio10,019

One possible explanation is that Nevada’s population boom—and subsequent development—is relatively recent. Newer homes listed in the dataset tend to have smaller lot sizes, and in Nevada, 34.6% of homes included in the research were built in 2000 or later.

Comparing Lot Size to Land Price

Generally speaking, the states with the biggest lots also tend to have the cheapest land when broken down per square foot. For instance, in Vermont, properties sold for an average of about $5.95 per square foot.

comparing average lot sizes in the U.S. to price

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On the flip side, in Nevada, land sold for an average of $82.80 per square foot—that’s the third most expensive of any state.

Of course, other factors are at play here when it comes to the cost of land. Like anything else that’s for sale, the price of a lot is governed largely by the laws of supply and demand.

For example, housing supply is scarce in Hawaii, where only 4.9% of the land is zoned for residential development, and the average home size is much smaller than in other parts of the country. Not surprisingly, the average plot of land in Hawaii costs $110.86 per square foot, the most expensive on the list.

The Future of Housing in America

Average lot sizes remain relatively large in some states for now, but as the U.S. population continues to become more urbanized, living conditions in America could get even tighter.

Will America hold onto its spacious way of living, or could life in the U.S. start to resemble more densely populated regions in the future?

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Real Estate

The Average Home Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

Over the last century, the average home size in the U.S. has skyrocketed. Here’s a look at which states have the biggest and smallest homes.

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average home size in every U.S. state

The Average Home Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

Over the last century, the average home size in the U.S. has skyrocketed. In 1949, the typical single-family home was just 909 square feet—by 2021, it had shot up to 2,480 square feet.

While U.S. homes are getting larger on the whole, they still vary drastically depending on the location. What areas in the U.S. have the largest homes, and which ones have the smallest?

This graphic by American Home Shield uses data from the 2022 American Home Size Index to show the average home size in every U.S. state.

The 2022 American Home Size Index

The index uses data from 474,157 listings of both houses and condos for sale on Zillow as of May 2022. After the data was compiled, it was organized by state and city, and the median home size was then calculated for each area.

According to the findings, there was a strong correlation with the average size of a home and the age of the area’s housing stock. For instance, Utah is the U.S. state with the largest average home size, with an average of 2,800 square feet. And since the state’s average home was built in 1989, it has the third-youngest home stock of any state across the country.

This trend is apparent on a city-level as well. Here’s a look at average home size across America’s top 50 most populated cities (with available data):

Average home size in 50 U.S. cities

As the graphic shows, up-and-coming tech hubs like Raleigh and Colorado Springs have some of the largest homes.

Colorado Springs in particular has seen a significant influx in employment over the last few years, which has attracted high-income tech workers to the area driven up demand for spacious single-family dwellings.

The Price of Real Estate Compared to Average Home Size

The data also showed a relationship between an area’s average price of real estate and the average home size. For instance, Hawaii has the smallest average home size of any state, as well as the most expensive at $743.86 per square foot.

comparing home prices in every U.S. state

This trend is apparent in the state of New York as well, which had the second smallest average home size. New York’s average home costs were $421.49 per square foot, the third-most expensive of any state.

Lot Size vs. Home Size

Interestingly, while average home sizes in the U.S. have gotten larger over time, the average lot size has shrunk over the years.

In 1978, the average lot size for a U.S. property was 18,760 square feet, but by 2020, this figure had dropped to a record low of 13,896 square feet.

With lot sizes shrinking, will there come a point where home size growth across the country starts to plateau, or even shrink?

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