This Is What Keeps Australian Chief Financial Officers Awake At Night

A lightning strike over Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mario Tama/Getty Images

A surprising number of chief financial officers in mid tier companies in Australia think their business are at risk of failure.

Forty-five per cent of CFOs surveyed identified their businesses to be at risk of failure during the next 3-5 years if innovation, future-proofing and risk management is not prioritised over and above business as usual activity.

The American Express survey of 285 Australian CFOs from companies with revenues between $2 million and $200 million found most financial decision makers associated the risk of failure with unknown forces

When asked what business related issue keeps them up at night, an overwhelming 40% said “coming up with ideas to grow my business”, 33% said “cash flow concerns” and 25% said “the survival of my business”.

The awareness of the risks associated with standing still may also stem from the relatively long tenure many CFOs from mid-sized companies have. Almost three-quarters (73%) of mid-sized CFOs have been in business for more than 10 years.

And they report their roles changing. The CFO role has extended well beyond the traditional finance function with responsibilities including oversight in human resources, procurement, supply chain, planning and strategy, IT, investor relations, systems and processes.

Christine Wakefield, Vice President, American Express Global Corporate Payments, says many CFOs are asking themselves whether the risk of failure will increase if innovation isn’t a real priority.

“The businesses we talked to are financially successful now, but some CFOs don’t have a clear vision of how to build a future-proofing plan,” she says.

“It’s time to get cracking or face the repercussions.”

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