The economic downturn has raised the profile of senior executives worldwide, with CFOs becoming more involved in developing business strategy and the prioritizing risk management.

In a new survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of more than 450 CFOs worldwide, 83 percent of the respondents say the finance chief’s role is more important than a year ago, with 70 percent agreeing that the finance function receives more boardroom backing now than a year ago. Meanwhile, 72 percent of the survey respondents agreed that finance now works more closely with business units in strategic planning, while two-thirds agree that the CFO is now more involved in the creation of a medium and long term corporate strategy.

“I need to be involved in more decisions,” said one of the CFOs, Jonny Mason of Odeon and UCI Cinemas, in the ACCA report. “It’s not like all of a sudden the CFO’s been promoted. It’s that more of the organization’s activity [now] needs the CFO’s input.”

Communication levels apparently have also increased, with 77 percent of the survey respondents saying that they have either increased or plan to increase the amount of internal communication carried out by their company, while two-thirds say they have increased or plan to increase the amount of external communications. Risk management is now a priority for many CFOs, with four out of five of the CFOs surveyed saying they are taking a more active role in this field and two-thirds of respondents saying they plan more education for their teams in this area.

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