The CFO Alliance Blog

Delivering Growth & Profitability in 2017: Insights from over 500 CFOs

According to the 2017 CFO Sentiment Study The outlook of Chief Financial Officers going into 2017 is optimistic. It is clear that CFOs view the impending regulatory environment in 2017 to be much more business friendly. According to the 2017 CFO Sentiment Study, 74% of respondents categorized the current state of the US economy as strong compared to the 60% and 61% reported in the previous 2016 and 2015 CFO Sentiment Studies, respectively; 65% expect to see
higher top line company revenue in 2017, and 58% expected to see higher company earnings in 2017.

Six compelling study results:
1. *90% of respondents reported that the results of domestic political elections would impact business strategy in 2017.
2. *90% of respondents reported that they would invest in acquiring and/or upgrading finance talent in 2017.
3. *Strategic Agility Matters More in the Manufacturing Industry- 22% reported the top risk challenge they will face in 2017 is a lack of strategic agility, compared to 9% for the respondent population.
4. *Customer Retention is Most Important for Companies with less than $10 Million in Annual Revenue- 37% reported customer retention as the top risk challenge they will face in 2017, which is 60% higher when compared to the respondent population.
5. *M&A Activity is a Top Growth Priority for Companies with Annual Revenue over $1 Billion- 17% reported that M&A activity is a top priority for company growth in 2017 compared to 6% for the respondent population.
6. *Currency & Commodity Risks Matter in the Retail Industry- 15% reported the top financial challenge they will face in 2017 is uncertainty in commodity and currency markets, which compares to only 4% for the respondent population.

The CFO Alliance 1st Quarter CFO Roundtables Series is focused on reviewing the key results as the fuel for interactive discussions around what matters most CFOs in 2017 and how CFOs plan to address key challenges and capitalize on opportunities in 2017. The CFO Roundtable Series kicked off in New York City and Philadelphia and what follows are ten key insights and takeaways.
1. *Companies need to focus on delivering more value and communicating this value to customers, and show customers they understand their key concerns to expand customer relationships.
2. *Companies need to do a better job of aligning sales talent with what customers need. This means market specific expertise is now a requirement for an effective sales professional.
3. *Last year companies were effective in acquiring better talent. This year CFOs will pivot the focus in collaborative efforts with HR to developing talent and engaging employees to be sure they stay.
4. *CFOs need to focus on educating their teams on the languages of HR, Sales, Marketing & Operations in addition to educating colleagues that work in these areas relative to the language of Finance.
5. *Finance needs to help sales professionals connect information to growth. Sales is use to flying their own plane. Finance needs to act as a co-pilot in sales growth, educating sales professionals how to leverage information to close deals.
6. *Companies would do well to formally define a framework to drive strategic alignment across the enterprise. Employee education relative to key objectives and messaging to customers. Decisions need to be driven by core company values which need to align with strategic objectives.
7. *Companies are in a good position to grow in 2017, but there must be consideration to the dangers of growing to quickly and/or into the wrong markets M&A is a top growth priority for CFOs in New York. Companies need deeper customer relationships and aggressive growth and be a meaningful inherent barrier to investing in customer relationships to maximize the lifetime value of a customer relationship.
8. *Companies need to understand customers well enough to recognize and capitalize on signals that they need to purchase products and/or services. Know what companies need before the y know they need it.
9. *Tremendous insights can be gained from interviewing smarter. I.E., ask a candidate to define their role at the current or last employer and how they added value in that role. Screen for candidates whose motivation is solely the amount of their salary. Make sure that a candidate is running to your company and your culture as opposed to running away from an employer.
10. *A CFO needs to serve in the role of Chief Reality Officer. This means that fellow leaders trust the CFO to always offer an honest assessment of situations and issues that matter, and to assist them in averting issues and crisis before they occur.

To find and register for a CFO Roundtable in a city near you [CLICK HERE]:

To learn more about the 2017 CFO Sentiment Study register for a complimentary webinar, Delivering Growth & Profitability in 2017: Insights From 500 CFOs, [REGISTER HERE]:

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