Sage’s Annual CFO Report reveals AI will influence C Suite & Drive Business Growth

CFOs are set to embrace AI to both influence the C-suite agenda and drive business growth – that’s according to Sage, the global leader in accounting, financial, HR, and payroll technology for small and mid-sized businesses.

Its annual CFO research report, The Secrets of Successful CFOs, Sage reveals how technology is enabling the top-performing CFOs to navigate the changing role of finance and take on greater business leadership, reporting that:

  • 85% of CFOs are expecting to take on a more significant role in shaping business strategy
  • Over half (56%) of CFOs are preparing for a heightened demand to offer broader business counsel, stepping outside of their traditional financial domain
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) CFOs who have incorporated AI into their roles report a significant impact on their businesses

The report shows that 8 in 10 CFOs are embracing AI and automated processes to gain time to focus on more valuable tasks. This additional time enables them to develop the critical skills necessary for success in more senior executive leadership, such as being appointed CEO, however only 49% are utilising these capabilities. The opportunity of skills being leveraged as a result of incorporating tech and automation include: problem solving (79%), leadership (78%), understanding of technology and systems (78%), effective communication (77%), and confidence (77%).

Steve Hare, Chief Executive Officer at Sage says,

‘At Sage, we constantly see how combining finance with technology gives CFOs the chance to step beyond their traditional roles, offering them a chance to guide their businesses with both flexibility and deeper insight.

As we move forward, the success of CFOs and the businesses they look after will increasingly depend on their ability to adapt, work together, and lead with clear purpose. It’s about leveraging technology to not only enhance their strategic role but also to broaden their influence within the business, setting the stage for a future where CFOs play a broader role in shaping their companies’ futures’.

CFOs are establishing meaningful cross functional relationships

The report highlights that the role of finance has changed as a result of recent technological advances and increased global complexities, with 89% of CFOs stating their role is different to just a year ago. Furthermore, the CFO role continues to intersect with other departments such as IT (60%), ESG/ sustainability (58%), sales (53%), operations (54%), and marketing (52%), as well as senior stakeholders such as CEO (59%), CTO (55%), CIO (57%) and CMO (51%). This cross functional exposure is enabling CFOs to gain valuable insights into an organisation’s overall growth strategy, adding further business impact and value, whilst positioning them for a seamless transition into the CEO role.

Despite the challenges of expanding responsibilities and shifting economic priorities, finance professionals remain highly ambitious, with 1 in 2 finance leaders aiming for top leadership positions (47%)

Faith in new technologies is fuelling this ambition and optimism:

  • 96% of CFOs believe finance roles will change in their organisation over the next three years
  • 86% of CFOs think tech will have a major impact on their role in the future, with AI, machine-learning and automation cited as the biggest opportunities
  • 78% of finance leaders identified keeping up with new tech knowledge as crucial to success over the next 3 years
  • 79% of CFOs say AI will bolster revenue growth in their organisations.

The most successful finance leaders are focused on developing their understanding of technology, which has resulted in high adoption rates of technology within finance teams – 74% of respondents state over half of the finance processes in their organisation are automated. This finance-led drive for technology has the potential to extend to company-wide initiatives. Over the next three years, 59% of CFOs expect to be implementing new technology and systems, highlighting the growing influence of the CFO over digital strategy.

Rob Beckman, CFO at Stark says: My role as CFO continues to evolve year on year; now more than ever, investing in technology has been crucial in saving me time whilst expanding the breadth of my role. Sage Intacct has helped me significantly streamline manual processes and as a result, at Stark, we have been able to bring 20 acquisition companies and 17 different legacy systems together into a single source of truth for financials, operations, and customer data. Not only have we made huge efficiency gains, but we now have real-time visibility into projects to manage costs and drive decision-making. It has positioned me and my team to drive impact and growth for the company.

Methodology

Sage conducted a survey of over 1,200 finance leaders from the target markets of Canada, France, UK, USA, Australia, Germany, South Africa, and Spain about their roles and the future of finance. The survey polled finance leaders across a broad range of industries including financial services, tech and software SaaS, construction and real estate, professional services, hospitality, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, distribution, general business, and non-profit.

About Sage

Sage exists to knock down barriers so everyone can thrive, starting with the millions of Small and Mid-Sized Businesses served by us, our partners and accountants. Customers trust our finance, HR and payroll software to make work and money flow. By digitizing business processes and relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, banks and governments, our digital network connects SMBs, removing friction and delivering insights. Knocking down barriers also means we use our time, technology and experience to tackle digital inequality, economic inequality and the climate crisis.

About Lisa Baker, Editor 2357 Articles
Lisa Baker is the Editor of Always Finance, and writes about Business, Finance Technology and Healthcare. Lisa is also the owner of Need to See IT Publishing.