Many of Australia's CFOs still don't get digital business models

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Australia’s finance directors are partnering with CEOs to drive strategy but many are ignoring the shift to digital.

The CFOs still see their main role as managing costs, according to Australian data extracted from EY’s annual global CFO Partnering for Performance report.

And only 49% say they will make a high contribution to their business’ digital approach.

The survey found many CFOs lacked a clear understanding of the role they need to play in the shift to digital, a key factor impacting organisations due to the disruption it can cause to business and operating models.

Only 50% of CFOs are making the shift to a digital business model a high priority in the next three years and only 49% believe they will make a high or very high contribution to it.

Mike Wright, EY’s Oceania Assurance leader, says this suggests many CFOs do not fully understand the impact digital is likely to have on their business, nor their responsibility in leading and enabling this transformation.

“It’s surprising to hear that many CFOs are not placing a high priority on digital given it is arguably one of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing companies today,” he says. “The consequences of ignoring the shift to digital are far too great for only half of CFOs to be embracing it,” Wright says.

Wright says many CFOs emerged from the financial crisis with strengthened reputations and with CEOs relying heavily on them to handle cost-cutting and protect their company during the economic downturn.

“Now that the global economy is becoming more stable, CFOs are finding themselves caught between cost control and growth,” Wright says. “While this is also true in the Australian market, I think locally we are seeing CFO’s more closely engaged with the CEO on business priorities than the global survey suggests.”

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