The CFO 411: Cloudy With a Chance of Innovation

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From the recent stock market zig-zag to conflicting economic indicators to the impact of a deceased Supreme Court justice, uncertainty is front and center in many C-suite discussions. And finance leaders are feeling the pressure to make sense of it all. But while a deluge of data and reporting demands are shaking the confidence of some, others are finding ways to embrace change—and keep a steady footing.

4 need-to-know headlines

1. CFOs’ confidence under pressure

Do compliance and big data keep you up at night? You’re not alone. A global survey of 1,000 CFOs at public corporations with revenue greater than $500 million shows that confidence in all aspects of corporate reporting has fallen in the past year. Only 55% are confident in the degree of their compliance, compared to 84% just one year ago. And when it comes to external eyes, only 43% of CFOs said their reporting effectively met the expectations of those outside their own company walls. At the same time, financial leaders say they’re struggling with the volume and pace of data in their industries and at their companies. (via Forbes.com)

2. Execs holding their breath over vacant court seat

The sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has sparked intense political jockeying over appointing a replacement. But business leaders know that Scalia’s passing has both immediate and long-term impacts on the U.S. business landscape, ranging from climate change regulations to patent law. Scalia had an instrumental hand in making it harder for lawyers to leverage class action suits against companies, for instance, and his passing could make it harder for current cases before the court to move past a stalemate. (via Fortune.com and Nytimes.com)

3. Leases make a move onto corporate balance sheets

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued a final rule that will require U.S. companies to add leases to their balance sheets, which experts expect will make many companies look much more leveraged. The FASB has said that the rule is intended to give investors a more transparent view of a company’s financial health and make it easier to compare financials across organizations. (via Nytimes.com) 

4. Uncertainty trumps other business concerns

Finance execs are finding that with uncertainty comes less optimism. In fact, “economic uncertainty” was the top business concern reported across nearly every region, in a CFO magazine survey that spanned the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The second-highest concern showed more variation across regions, with weak demand plaguing Asia and Europe, while cost of benefits worryied U.S. companies. And while finance leaders aren’t certain what the economy holds for the future, most aren’t embracing the unknown with a sunny outlook. Optimism levels that U.S. execs assigned for their own companies are near historic lows. (via CFO.com)

The stat: 4.9%

That’s the uptick in new orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods in January, marking the highest increase in 10 months. Execs in manufacturing and beyond rejoiced over the rise, as the economic indicator could signal a pick-up in demand more broadly. (via Reuters.com)

Sound bite of the week

“True disruption in the financial services industry is by no means complete. We are in the early stages of a cycle of relentless innovation that will ultimately lead to irrevocable disruption of how people interact with their money.”
—Guillaume Pousaz, founder of UK-based fintech Checkout.com, on innovation in response to the global customer’s lack of patience for traditional banks (via Forbes.com)

4 Top Stories + 1 Key Statistic + 1 Industry Quote = The CFO 411
The CFO 411 is our weekly news roundup that brings you top headlines, data points, and sound bites to keep you in the know. Follow our updates on LinkedIn for more finance must-reads.

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