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In finance, ‘everybody’s competing for the same talent’ - Fortune

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Good morning,

“The war for talent seems to have kind of gotten nuclear,” David Cutbill, a principal with Deloitte Touche LLP, told me. “Since the pandemic, finance organizations are just struggling to find the talent. I have a client in Los Angeles who said the good news is, 'I can now get talent from everywhere.' The bad news … geographic boundaries have kind of been removed, and now everybody's competing for the same talent.”

In 2021, “I think we're seeing the use of contract workers significantly increase within finance, [but] less adoption of the more innovative or further outreach models like gig workers; we see those being adopted in other parts of the enterprise a little bit more aggressively,” Danitz says. That echoes what Eric Dutcher, CFO at MBO Partners, told me recently. Dutcher said he’s incorporating contract workers into his finance team. “I'm actually building my own virtual workbench of workers that I will be bringing up to do various projects, really in two-week sprints, as the opportunities come up, or as we have the bandwidth for that particular project,” he said.

Another prediction made for 2025 was automation and blockchain will reach deeper into finance operations. But in 2021, a lack of standardized processes and investment in data architecture has somewhat slowed down the pace. "Few finance functions will have a truly touchless back office by 2025, [but] mundane tasks will become easier to automate," according to the report. The firm also said in 2018 that companies will still be struggling with data in 2025. That prediction seems on track. 

To meet digital transformation goals, “finance will need an enterprise data strategy with a strong leader overseeing it,” Deloitte suggested. Access to effective data is a challenge CFOs are facing. For example, Workday’s survey of CFOs released in July found 49% of finance chiefs said their organization’s biggest gap was the ability to execute with accurate and timely data for quick, informed decisions. 

Other predictions in the report centered on topics such as finance cycles and enterprise resource planning. “I don't think we saw our predictions change significantly, but we did realize how interconnected they all are,” Cutbill says. “You can no longer have a single view of the future. It's just too uncertain.”

Any predictions on the role of CFOs in 2025? “I think we'll continue to see the CFO move into more of the strategist profile within the organization and continue to expand his or her role in driving the core strategic objectives,” Danitz says. 

“I think we've kind of already have seen it happen—the CFO has almost become the COO at a lot of companies,” Cutbill says. “And so, the controller is thought to be almost the most senior finance executive with that kind of finance background. The naming convention has stayed the same, but the roles have definitely shifted.”

See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada [email protected]

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Big deal

On August 24, E-Trade released the results of a recent installment of StreetWise, a quarterly tracking study of experienced investors. The majority of investors surveyed are aligned with the Federal Reserve’s view that current inflation is transitory, the survey found. However, more than half (67%) predict an interest-rate hike in 2022. The data is based on a survey of 898 self-directed active investors in the U.S. who oversee at least $10,000 in an online brokerage account, according to E-Trade.

Going deeper

The pandemic has accelerated “a digital-first mindset in financial services,” according to FICO, a data analytics company that also administers a FICO score as a measure of consumer credit risk. New research released on August 24 found 71% of U.S. respondents are willing to open an account digitally (via app or website). However, there may be generational differences. About 29% of respondents ages 18-24 prefer to open a financial account via a phone call or mail. Meanwhile, only 6% of respondents age 65 and older want to apply by phone call, and 1% want to use the mail. “Digital literacy does not necessarily equate to financial literacy, and in the U.S., digital natives might not be who financial institutions think they are,” Darryl Knopp, senior director portfolio marketing and former head of FICO Advisors Digital Practice at FICO, said in a statement.

Leaderboard

Linda S. Huber was named CFO at FactSet, a global provider of integrated financial information. She will join the company in early October 2021. Huber most recently served as CFO at MSCI Inc. Prior to her role at MSCI, she served as EVP and CFO of Moody’s Corporation, and EVP and CFO at U.S. Trust Company. Huber brings to FactSet more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Aaron Abramovitz was named EVP, treasurer, and CFO at Georgia Power, a Southern Company subsidiary, effective Sept. 1, 2021. Abramovitz is currently VP of business operations for Vogtle 3 4 at Southern Nuclear. He was previously director of investor relations at Southern Company. Abramovitz began his career at Southern Company Services in 2002.

Dan Tucker was named EVP and CFO at Southern Company, effective Sept. 1, 2021. Tucker succeeds Andrew W. Evans who has announced his plans to retire. Tucker is currently EVP, CFO and treasurer at Georgia Power. He began his career with Southern Company in 1998 serving in various positions at the company and its subsidiaries.

Overheard

“Options prices are implying that this is not going away any time soon.”

—Brian Overby, senior options analyst at Ally Invest, on the state of retail trading, as reported by Reuters.