CFOs Clearly Find Complexity Challenge

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are sitting at the center of increasingly complex organizations that require them to juggle a number of tasks unheard of even five years ago, according to a survey released Monday.


“Navigating complexity has become a key part of the CFO’s role. Four of the top five challenges facing CFOs relate to complexity,” according a study by professional services firm Accenture. “These include: complex legacy systems; addressing the complex needs of all stakeholders; mitigating new and complex business, financial and operational risks; and the need to support complex enterprise operating models."

According to the survey, four out of the top five challenges facing CFOs are due to internal complexity, including dealing with legacy systems and environments (55%); managing the complex needs of all stakeholders (48%); new and complex business risks (46%); and supporting increasingly complex operating models (28%).

The culprit behind the increased complexity is growth, coupled with the number of mergers and acquisitions that have occurred since the end of the 2008 financial crisis. In addition, companies are operating in a global environment that requires them to run business across borders and timezone, with some large multinationals sometimes dealing with over 1,000 legal entities.

The report states that 49% of companies that took part in the survey derive almost half of their revenue from outside their home market, and that 24% operate in 50 or more countries

The solution to managing complexity — according to the Accenture survey — is implementing new operating models and technologies.

“Leading companies search constantly for ways of optimizing and standardizing processes to eliminate inefficiencies and waste,” Accenture says. “The implementation of shared services and the journey from a discrete or functional orientation to more advanced models such as global and integrated business services is a key tool driving finance agility.”