CFOs’ focus on digital transformation is consistent with other industry surveys. Deloitte research released last year found 77% of CFOs are retooling their operations to add more automation and redeploy financing and accounting staff for higher-value functions.
The relatively low priority on M&A, and the almost complete absence of IPO plans, are also consistent with other research.
A survey by consulting firm Baker McKenzie found finance leaders are expecting a 25% drop in M&A activity, from $2.8 billion to $2.1 billion. And the continuing weak interest in IPOs has been a concern of the Securities and Exchange Commission for several years now, although at the Davos Economic Summit two weeks ago, the heads of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq said they’re seeing an uptick in interest in IPOs so far this year.
Internally, CFOs have big plans for positioning their companies for growth. Almost two-thirds are planning to pour more money into research and development while only 12% are planning to pull back on that. Almost a third say they’ll spend about the same.