Strategy

Growth is a top priority for both CFOs and CEOs

But there’s less alignment on cost management and sustainability initiatives, survey finds.
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Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: DragonFly/Getty Images

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CFOs and CEOs agree: Growth is the top priority this year and next, according to a new Gartner survey.

The consulting firm found that growth was the most common business priority for chief executives and finance leaders. Nearly two-thirds of CEOs (62%) and CFOs (65%) cited it among their top three priorities for 2024 through 2025. In fact, growth blew every other response out of the water. Rounding out the top three major priorities among respondents were technology (32% for CEOs, 37% for CFOs) and workforce (26%, 33%).

CFOs prioritized growth at a similar rate in the 2023 survey. However, growth increased 38% YoY as a priority among CEOs.

Executives’ priorities deviated a bit in cost management. More than a fifth of CFOs cited it in their top three priorities (up 33% YoY) whereas only 15% of CEOs did the same (up 6%). In a news release, Gartner leaders noted the divergence may come from CEOs giving “longer leeway” on investment returns than CFOs.

“To address these differences while keeping organizational growth a priority, CFOs should align with their CEO regarding digital investments, risk appetite and cost cuts that support growth,” Alexander Bant, chief of research in Gartner’s finance practice, said in the release. “CFOs should discuss the drivers behind their CEO’s flexibility on investment time horizons. For many companies, this likely relates to the longer timelines that transformational investments in technology require to deliver returns.”

There was also some variation in environmental sustainability initiatives. CEOs viewed the initiatives “as more important to growth than CFOs,” who were more likely to see them “as a marketing tool,” according to the report.

Gartner surveyed 416 senior executives, primarily CEOs (282) and CFOs (81), between July and December 2023.

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