Giving business the edge...

2013 CFO Pulse Survey

Our 2013 CFO Pulse Survey features the views of over 140 CFO's on a range of business topics central to the development of your organisations. The key highlights are summarised below.

Overall, what is the survey telling us?

The survey highlights three areas that are key priorities for you.

  • Providing a strategic edge for business – In a similar response to last year, 50% surveyed said that your finance function is now seen as a strategic business partner
  • Being more resilient – a large majority of you reported that you would be unable to cope in the event of a major fraud, cyber attack or health crisis. Many of you are planning to mitigate these risks
  • Maintaining margins through simplification – For 77% of you, maintaining margins and profitability is your top challenge. 68% plan to simplify and standardise processes

How do you, as a finance leader, feel about the economy and growth?

The survey shows that you are much more confident about the economy and growth than in early 2012. For example...

  • 43% of you indicated a positive outlook for Ireland’s economy, compared to 11% last year
  • Three-quarters of you anticipate revenue growth. This is up from 59% last year
  • 65% of you expect profit growth. This is up from 55% last year
  • Nearly half (47%) of you expect to grow employee numbers, up from 35% last year
  • Interestingly, a fifth of you said finance is more easily available now compared to 15% last year

What is the greatest barrier to expansion?

New products and new markets are the top ways to grow revenues. However, the greatest barrier to growth is in identifying the right markets. We are seeing that business leaders are playing safe and limiting expansion to the markets they know best ensuring they are not spreading their resources too thinly.

What are the key challenges for your business?

77% of you indicated that mantaining margins and profitability is, by far, the top challenge for your business right now. This is followed by regulatory pressures. Costs are less of an issue, with 39% of you reporting this to be a challenge compared to 64% last year. Finally 68% of you put simplification and standardisation as your top restructuring initiative.

What are the key opportunities within finance functions?

The main area of opportunity that you have highlighted, is in providing greater strategic support to the business.

Unfortunately, you are currently constrained in providing valuable insight, as approximately half of your time is being spent on data gathering with the other half spent on analysing and interpreting that data.

However, in the year ahead, over a third (37%) of you plan to spend more than 30% of your time on partnering with the business in a strategic role.

How do you feel about resilience?

The survey reveals a lack of resilience if certain unexpected scenarios were to happen. For example, 90% of you reported that another recession would have a negative impact on your business. A large majority of you reported that you would be unable to cope well with a major fraud, cyber attack, major social unrest or a health crisis.

Large organisations are responding to this by modelling the impact of radical shocks on their businesses to ensure they can adapt and respond.

Is there lots of change on the horizon?

Yes, despite much restructuring over the last few years, it looks like there is still a lot of change to come. The top 3 areas you have indicated are:

  • 61% of you plan to change your investment decisions
  • 51% of you plan to change your strategies for managing talent, and
  • 50% of you plan to change your organisational structure
Aidan Walsh

T: +353 1 792 6255

Aidan Walsh

Aidan Walsh is a partner in the advisory practice and leads the corporate finance practice in PwC Ireland. Aidan has led teams that have advised both public and private sector clients on significant infrastructure, financing and procurement including many public private partnerships. He has also advised clients on many substantial acquisitions and disposals of Irish businesses.

In addition to his extensive financial advisory roles, Aidan spent two years on secondment as acting Chief Executive of VHI in 1997/98. In that role, Aidan led an extensive change programme involving organisational structures, new product delivery, changed provider relationships and systems. Aidan has been working with Irish local authorities over the past ten years and has advised many of them with respect to their strategic and capital programmes. Aidan leads the local government network for PwC Ireland.

Aidan is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.