Strategy

CFOs have to make too many decisions, according to CFOs

Choice overload is becoming a real issue for CFOs.
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· 3 min read

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Decisions, decisions. They’re something CFOs have to make more of nowadays—and the majority of finance leaders don’t like it.

Two-thirds (67%) of CFOs reported feeling frozen by the amount of decisions they need to make on a regular basis, according to an Accenture survey.

It’s become a common problem for a simple reason: Businesses are more complicated than they used to be. “90% of C-suite executives said their companies are undergoing an accelerated digital transformation.” And CFOs are shouldering a lot of the strain: 93% of CFOs surveyed said they’re now being trusted with more responsibility than in the past, according to the survey.

“[CFOs’] responsibility for financial discipline, coupled with modern analytics, gives them cross-enterprise visibility and allows them to connect the dots in ways their C-suite partners can’t,” the report’s authors wrote. “As a result, CFOs hold more decision making power than previous generations.”

In the current corporate climate, the report’s authors argued that CFOs are regularly encountering a “paradox of choice,” a well-known psychological dilemma that holds that the more options we have, the more likely we are to feel unsatisfied with our choice. “The volume of options, and their interconnected nature, often hinders more than it helps, slowing decisions down rather than accelerating them,” the report’s authors wrote of the evolving CFO role.

But for any finance leaders feeling overwhelmed, the survey also outlined some vital solutions. Notably, the report’s authors stressed the importance of simultaneously prioritizing business as usual and innovation. That’s easier said than done, of course, but there are models for success.

For instance, you might prioritize your biggest innovative efforts and assign your most skilled teams to them. Or you could temper investor expectations for the “pace of transformation" initiative[s],” making it clear when a slowdown is necessary to move faster in another area.

The report cited the example of an energy CFO who intentionally split his time in thirds between “the finance function, external stakeholders, and enterprise reinvention.” It’s a steep climb, but any CFO tries to effectively balance long-term innovation and day-to-day success has their work cut out for them: 50% of finance leaders surveyed in a recent EY report said they have to regularly cut funding for long-term priorities to meet short-term earnings targets.

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.