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CFOs remain confident about growth prospects with 89% making investments to manage change

In the face of new regulatory requirements, research by leading recruitment specialist, Robert Half UK, has revealed that meeting compliance and regulation demands is the top priority for nearly half (48%) of Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) in 2018. In a year where MiFID II, the second Payment Systems Directive and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation all come into effect, it is the first time in three years that the regulatory environment has risen back to the top of the CFO agenda.

In the list of top concerns, compliance and regulation was followed by preparing for the uncertainty surrounding Brexit (43%) as the exit negotiations continue. Retaining key talent, maintaining cash flow and managing the impact of automation and new digital technologies on the finance function were each identified by 39% of respondents.

Top three priorities for CFOs in 2018

  1. Meeting compliance and regulatory demands (48%)
  2. Preparing for uncertainty surrounding Brexit (43%)
  3. Retaining key talent (39%)
  4. Maintaining cash flow (39%)
  5. Managing the impact of automation (39%)

However, despite the challenges, the research shows that the majority of CFOs remain positive. Overall, 84% are confident about their company’s growth prospects with the majority (89%) making investments that allow them to better respond to these challenges.

“It’s reassuring to see that in the face of the various business challenges in the year ahead, CFOs are remaining optimistic and confident,” commented Matt Weston, Director, Robert Half UK. “Once again, we’re reminded of how the CFO role is evolving. To drive prosperity and growth in a changing business climate, CFOs are being called on to apply financial intelligence across the wider business.

In particular, CFOs will need to consider whether they have the right people in the business to overcome the challenges and meet the new objectives that 2018 is likely to present. Many CFOs have already identified that this will mean either hiring additional contractors or temporary workers (35%) or permanent employees (28%). Nearly a third (32%) will also look for opportunities to upskill their existing employees.

“Valuable financial insights are being relied on to drive agility, inform decisions, broaden business objectives and challenge the status quo,” concluded Weston. “Successful CFOs are developing their finance functions to add-value to the business by using the financial insights to partner with the business and shape the overall business strategy.”