Of all the weird notes 2021 started on, it was a wave of CFO resignations vying for the most eye-catching headlines, like The Wall Street Journal thunderous that “more CFOs resigned in 2020 than in previous years” – up almost 30% from 2019 alone. What’s going on with generally reserved and super-cautious CFOs in 2021?
For some, it has been said to be the stress of operating financial teams working from home. The mere thought of transmitting sensitive accounting data over home Wi-Fi connections pissed off CFOs to the breaking point. Others have used the pandemic as an opportunity to change jobs and industries. However, there is a growing consensus that the role of the CFO is becoming more strategic than ever as he is in a rush to embrace the mindset of a technologist, and more.
And a PYMNTS study conducted in the depths of the 2020 lockdowns of CFOs’ attempts to digitize operations virtually overnight found that 91% of companies surveyed with between $ 10 million and $ 100 million in annual revenue “automated for increase the “efficiency and performance” of their [AP/AR] process ”during closures, as did the majority of the survey sample in this case.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are grappling with the transformation of the accounting function in a big way. As Executive Vice President of Global Commercial Payments for American Express Dean Henri recently told PYMNTS: “There is a small group of people who are trying to process a large number of invoices in an accounts payable department, and they need solutions to pay in a more automated and easy way. “
Combined with other developments, what emerges is a portrait of a critical business role being reshaped by the great digital shift, ready or not. But businesses should not be blinded by accounting reform. Making the right technological choices is crucial.
For example, application programming interfaces (APIs) saved the day in many ways. “APIs are becoming a very common request in the payment space”, Kim vodicka, vice president of business operations at Dell Financial Services, a division of Dell Technologies, told PYMNTS. “The more information and flexibility we can provide to the client about their assets and amounts owed, the more our clients are able to make accurate and on-time payments.”
Fast forward to Q2 2021, and the accounting function is tightly tied to more digital muscle and rich data than ever before, creating fascinating new approaches for increased efficiency and security.
PYMNTS June 2021 study, The Strategic Role of the CFO: How AP and AR Digitization Are Transforming Customer Relationships, surveyed 400 CFOs in March and April, noting that “CFOs take a broader view of modernization AP / AR, a global vision, strategic and focused on the customer. Payments are no longer seen as just a back office function to be ironed out long after a contract or purchase order is signed. CFOs increasingly see transparent and efficient payment capabilities as essential for acquiring customers, maintaining long-term loyalty and accelerating cash flow. In short: strategic.
Which AP / AR workflows benefit most from automation, the reasons CFOs focus on certain areas that need a process change – rather than another piece of technology – as well as insight into the direction client who permeates the accounting departments are all on the table now.
For more on this, join PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster and a panel of industry experts from Versapay and Twilio as they analyze the results of the landmark study The Strategic Role of the CFO, Monday, July 12, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET on PYMNTS TV.