U.S. Bank survey finds most CFOs are concerned about improving risk management

U.S. Bank released its annual CFO Survey this week, which finds that priorities have shifted for finance leaders in this challenging economic environment.

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Specifically, the survey found that improving risk management was the top concern, at 31 percent, up from 18 percent in the 2021 survey. The top priority in 2021, driving revenue growth, was now only the top priority for 21 percent of CFOs — down from 35 percent a year ago when it was a top priority.

Further, 29 percent of finance leaders said cutting costs and driving efficiencies across the business is a top priority. However, just 22 percent said they plan to reduce headcount across the enterprise, down from 40 percent in 2021. Instead, CFOs plan to cut costs by investing in technology (37 percent), discontinuing low-margin/low-growth business lines (32 percent), and outsourcing certain business functions (29 percent).

The survey found that fewer CFOs want to cut headcount, as 40 percent cited a talent shortage in their industry. Talent shortage risks were even ahead of risks posed by the pace of digital disruption (36 percent) and high inflation (34 percent). Also, 17 percent said rising interest rates were a top risk.

“Our clients in the CFO office are facing a barrage of challenges – with new ones emerging seemingly every day – as they help guide their firms through a very uncertain external environment,” Stephen Philipson, executive vice president at U.S. Bank Corporate & Commercial Banking, said. “Finance leaders should take this opportunity to play an even more significant role in risk management, ensuring they have an appropriate strategy to play defense while continuing to grow the bottom line.”

Finally, just 15 percent of finance leaders are highly confident in their company’s ability to manage any identified business risks.