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CFOs focus on reducing operational costs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are faced with expanding responsibilities when it comes to driving corporate growth but taking cost out of the business is an overall priority, according to a recent survey. The CFO's remit now expands far beyond the management of corporate financial affairs and extends to looking for cost-savings throughout the organisation and evaluating the costs of investment in new markets.

The survey, of 300 middle market CFOs, conducted by Citizens Commercial Banking, found that 81 per cent of the CFOs surveyed said one of their key objectives in 2018 is to improve operational efficiencies, followed by expansion into new domestic markets and the development of new products, as shown below:

Within the context of lowering business costs, the survey found that CFOs are optimistic about how US tax policy changes could save companies money. A majority (60 per cent) said the anticipated federal tax policy changes would amplify company growth.

Payments efficiency

Electronic and real-time payments are important priorities for CFO although in the case of real-time payments, widespread implementation is likely to be delayed as companies wait for their peers to take the first step. Overall only 4 per cent of companies have implemented a real-time payments system and 38 per cent have researched the topic and have plans to implement in future.

CFOs are also increasingly using e-payments in their companies to drive greater business efficiencies, reduce costs and improve working capital – the survey report says that CFOs “seek an increase of 17 per cent in payables and 15 per cent in receivables executed electronically”.

Focus on core finance

The survey shows that middle market company CFOs will be focusing more in future on keeping the company properly financed, cash management, international expansion and investor relationships. Since cybersecurity and fraud continue to be among the biggest business risks, while compliance is also an ongoing issue, it's surprising that CFOs said they will be focusing less in future on fraud prevention and monitoring, and less on corporate governance.

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