Skip to main content

Small Business

CFOs Focusing More on Financial Planning for Strategy

A new survey of the top financial leaders in America's businesses shows that they are becoming more strategic in their decision-making, and also relying more on financial planning when developing and guiding their corporate strategy.


A new survey of the top financial leaders in America's businesses shows that they are becoming more strategic in their decision-making, and also relying more on financial planning when developing and guiding their corporate strategy.

The quarterly Business Volatility and Variables survey and a recent ROI paper by Nucleus Research confirm that CFOs are increasing responsibilities in areas of planning, budgeting, and strategic business decisions. The survey included 300 U.S. finance professionals, finding that nearly half of respondents plan on financially re-forecasting and re-planning more frequently due to uncertainties like government turmoil and healthcare reform.

According to the survey, which was commissioned by cloud business and financial analytics company Adaptive Insights, the majority of financial advisors are optimistic about the economy, but they are wearily eyring ever-changing market conditions, which makes adaptable and efficient financial planning a necessity.

As such, enterprises are no longer wasting time and money trying to implement and maintain cumbersome and costly legacy on-premise CPM software, or review and reconcile non-collaborative, error-prone spreadsheets.

Savvy companies, like the major medical device manufacturer featured in the Nucleus paper, are implementing solutions like Adaptive’s cloud-based, intuitive and integrated suite to achieve results like a 236 percent ROI and annual benefits of $125,876. DocuSign is another company that has implemented Adaptive to improve visibility; increase trust in financial forecasts and analysis; provide greater auditability; and increase finance and non-finance employee productivity—resulting in 802 percent ROI, a 60 percent improvement of the financial team’s productivity, and an annual savings of more than $500,000.

“The dynamic economy has been a forcing function for CFOs to change their processes and upgrade their solutions. Adaptive Insights has kept pace with the industry, evolving everything—from our product line to our brand—to help these CFOs understand the impact of changing market conditions, and leverage technology to help them make informed, strategic decisions within that environment,” said Rob Hull, founder and president, Adaptive Insights. “This is why major enterprises like DocuSign stay with us for years: We deliver a 360 degree view of the past, present and future that is necessary for CFOs to make the best possible decisions.”

Other findings from the Adaptive Insights Business Volatility and Variables survey include:

Optimistic Outlook for U.S. Economy

While economic optimism for 2014 declined among CFOs compared to 2013 optimism (75 percent in Q4 2013 versus 81 percent in Q2 2013), overall economic sentiment and future expectations have remained cautiously optimistic since April 2013. In fact, 80 percent see current economic conditions equal to or better than they were six months ago, and 80 percent also predict further improvements over the next six months.

Healthcare and Jobs Outlook Weigh Heavily

Although most CFOs are optimistic about the economic environment, they are wisely keeping tabs on industry-altering issues. Healthcare reform (60 percent) leads the concerns, with unemployment (43 percent), deficit reduction (40 percent) and housing (17 percent) issues completing the top five.

Bigger Spending, Bigger Profit Margins

The survey found that financial optimism is not exclusive to the economy. Forty-two percent of participants expect larger profit margins in the next six months, which is up from 36 percent in Q2 2013. Additionally, thirty-four percent of financial experts plan to increase spending in the next six months (an increase from 28 percent in Q2 2013).

Re-Plan, Re-Forecast, Re-Budget, Repeat

To combat uncertainty, planning needs to be conducted optimally and often, according to the financial experts polled. The survey found that nearly thirty-percent of respondents re-plan, re-forecast and re-create “what if” analysis on a monthly basis. Further, almost 50 percent plan to increase those processes due to economic uncertainty.

CFOs Engaging in More Strategic Planning and Risk Management

In light of powerful financial planning technologies like Adaptive Insights that streamline growth metrics and improve financial visibility, CFOs have more time and knowledge, which equates to more responsibilities. Eighty percent of respondents rate that financial planning is taking on a significant role in corporate strategy. Specifically, CFOs are taking on more responsibilities in the following areas: financial planning and budgeting (52 percent); business strategy decision-making (43 percent); risk management (42 percent); and growth strategies and business model assessment (35 percent).

With more powerful solutions, CFOs are given more time to accept new roles and instant access to critical information to make vital decisions. To learn how, read about the Nucleus Research ROI paper. For the complete survey information, visit: