As many as 8 in 10 (81%) chief financial officers (CFOs) believe they suffer most from the intensive manual work compared to any other role in the C-Suite on a day-to-day basis. This is severely reducing the time they are spending with family and friends and fuelling boredom and stress at work, a new survey reveals.
Much of the manual pain involves tracking multiple report versions, correcting errors, and chasing data, reveals the survey by DataRails, the financial planning, and analysis solution for Excel users.
Consequently, nearly half, or 48% of CFOs say manual processes reduce their time spent with family and friends, while 47% find this work impairs their ability to participate in strategic decision-making. Some 37% were ultimately dissatisfied with their overall output as CFO, and nearly one-third (31%) confessed that constant spreadsheet jockeying left them bored.
The survey of 200 CFOs from the US and the UK at businesses of up to 500 employees finds that 41% of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) processes are manual, translating to 10 hours a week of skilled finance talent spent on spreadsheet work ‒ including many hours of work for the CFOs themselves. This manual routine relates to core FP&A reports including budgets, P&Ls, balance sheets, and month-end reporting. In particular, 41% of CFOs say the regular identification and correction of errors represents the biggest manual challenge.
Excel reigns supreme for 70% of CFOs
The study also finds that 70% of CFOs rely on Excel for financial budgeting and forecasting. Despite the dominance of Excel as their operating system, only 18% of CFOs consider themselves Excel experts, while just 30% call their skills “advanced.”
This is further preventing efficient results in the CFO’s office with many CFOs lacking the advanced skills to work efficiently, the report finds.
More tech, forecasting, and hiring in response to Covid-19
The implementation of new technology has been undertaken by one third (33%) of CFOs representing the biggest CFO response to the Covid-19 pandemic, says the report. In addition, one-fifth of CFOs increased the cadence of their forecasting as well as their employee headcount. In contrast, only 12% of CFOs were forced to let workers go from the finance team as a direct result of the pandemic.
“While CFOs have emerged as a catalyst for change particularly since Covid-19, the reality is that daily processes are preventing finance leaders from achieving their maximum impact. In particular, fixing errors and chasing down data is ever present, leading to dissatisfaction with performance and harming CFOs’ overall quality of life. This constant frustration is creating a detrimental personal impact while preventing businesses from harnessing much-needed talent within the CFOs office,” says Didi Gurfinkel, co-founder and CEO of DataRails.