What are the biggest challenges facing your business?
How much of a priority are business transformation programs compared to three years ago?
Note: Thirty six percent of Asia-based CFGs see business transformation programs as more of a priority than three years ago.
“Life as it is for all Australian businesses — tough retail conditions, challenging economy, high Australian dollar, high labour cost market.”
Group CFO, Coca-Cola Amatil Limited
Despite the current uncertainty and unforgiving market sentiment, organisations must find a path back to a position where investment in innovation and top line growth is once more acceptable.
Business fundamentals have not changed. Companies with strong balance sheets, quality products and services and a compelling value proposition can find ways to grow, especially in the expanding consumer markets of Asia.
While cost reduction should be on the agenda, it has to be well managed. CFOs are under enormous pressure to reduce costs, but they must do this without fundamentally damaging their business or the finance function. This is the moment for CFOs to defend enterprise projects vital to long-term growth and their role as business advisor.
Contrary to popular belief, the current uncertainty hasn’t changed the CFO’s fundamental purpose. Corporate strategy may have changed, but the CFO’s role is still to enable that strategy.
To this end, CFOs must help to keep their boards and executive teams from losing sight of the long-term growth agenda.
They must show boards the bigger picture to support considered decision-making around proposed short-term measures.
And they must actively foster innovation. CFOs are critical players in the innovation process, helping the business to understand the appropriate levels of funding for growth projects, and putting in place and monitoring the right sort of long-term innovation measures and reward structures.
Most importantly, CFOs must be able to communicate this growth story to the market, demonstrating the benefits of their organisation continuing to invest in growth, rather than being paralysed by uncertainty.
Before companies start to stagnate, CFOs must apply their leadership, insight and commonsense to galvanise boards and executives into action — and defend this to the market.