Survey reveals what CFOs and finance leaders really think about AI, the painful trade-offs they’re making today and the largest opportunities ahead.
Pigment, the business planning platform, today released “Office of the CFO: Expectations vs. Reality for the Modern Finance Professional,” new research that reveals insights and challenges from finance leaders. Most concerning, while finance leaders operate in an environment where access to accurate information can make or break a company, the vast majority (89%) say they are making monthly decisions that they know are based on inaccurate or incomplete data. In fact, one in four say they are being forced to rely on gut instinct alone.
Finance leaders across industries lack confidence in their ability to make strategic decisions for the business, plan ahead accurately, mitigate risks, or steer their business through unpredictable events. In fact, most finance leaders only feel confident making decisions for the next quarter (60%), and only one in four (28%) are confident making plans a year or more in advance.
This comes down to a couple of main factors: persistent external pressures such as the current, uncertain economic environment and staying ahead of competitors, as well as strong internal challenges. More than half (56%) of finance leaders have been asked to make decisions and forecasts for departments over which they lack visibility and nearly the same number (53%) who still don’t have the right tools needed to conduct needed long-term growth planning.
Despite the evolution of the finance function to a more strategic role, too many finance leaders are still unable to focus on high-value business initiatives. More than half (54%) say they spend most of their time doing work that doesn’t add strategic value to the organization, 43% said they are not able to invest in their team culture and worker happiness due to preoccupation with low-value tasks, and 42% deprioritize developing new capabilities and skills, which directly impacts their ability to attract and retain talent. Along with these issues, finance leaders have seen increased responsibility for decision-making across several facets of the business, including the expectation to provide business-wide strategic guidance and overseeing new areas like Environment, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), something that 68% of finance leaders acknowledge has emerged as a focal point for their teams.
Highlighting the growing trust in AI, particularly large language models, the report found that 92% of finance leaders are already seeing value from AI within their business and two-thirds (68%) of finance leaders would consider input from AI in making a business decision or recommendation.
In addition, a main value-add highlighted by finance leaders is the ability to bring in outside non-finance stakeholders, moving the conversation to a level they can contribute toward. This is because generative AI-powered platforms make it far easier to access and analyze data in natural language even if someone is not an analyst or an expert in financial planning tools.
Pigment conducted this research using an online survey prepared by Method Research and distributed by RepData among n=503 adults (age 18+) in the United States who are employed as in-house finance professionals with a manager title or above. All respondents were required to work at a firm with 500 employees or more. Data was collected from August 29 to September 11, 2023.
Pigment is a business planning platform. By bringing together people, data and processes into an intuitive, adaptable, integrated platform, teams can quickly build trusted strategic and operational business plans to drive growth, react to change and future-proof their business. Industry-leading companies like Klarna, Figma, Airtable, PVH and Webhelp trust Pigment every day, allowing them to make confident and accurate decisions. Learn more at www.gopigment.com.