Sage has published a series of studies based on a global survey of more than 1,900 businesses entitled “The Redefined CFO”. The reports are based on findings from the business leaders in the US, UK, Australia, South Africa and Canada. The report includes some fascinating insights, specifically around cryptocurrency and the Metaverse.

The research was comprehensive. Expect some fascinating insights in the coming months as the report sheds light on only some of the key findings. The US and UK reports (the first seen by Enterprise Times) follow a similar structure with statistics and quotes relevant to the respective audiences. The sixteen pages are divided into three main chapters with an executive summary and summary. The chapters are:

  • Changing leadership for a changing world
  • New responsibilities, new potential
  • Tomorrow’s CFO, today

The report pulls together a narrative, insights and quotes into a cohesive report worth reading.

Judy Romano, VP and CFO, Sage North America, commented: “Finance leaders in the U.S. are redefining what it means to be a CFO. Through their purpose-driven approach to the role, their adoption of breakthrough technologies, and work across a range of business units, they are taking their place as forward-facing guides for organizations.”

Changing leadership for a changing world

The first chapter looks at how the responsibilities, challenges and priorities of CFOs and finance leaders have changed over the last two years. It draws on the findings from previous surveys highlighting that talent and cybersecurity are the biggest priorities.

The role of the CFO is widening with CFO’s increasing responsibility in the last twelve months for Digital Transformation (79%), Data and Cybersecurity (76%), ESG (75%), and DEI (73%).

Digital Transformation includes adopting new technologies. 38% said that AI/ML would have a major impact on creating or maintaining a competitive advantage in the future. Perhaps the survey results on cryptocurrency and the Metaverse are most startling and covered in the third chapter.

New responsibilities, new potential

The second chapter reflects on the changing nature of the CFO. As CFOs change to become less generators of historical reporting and more strategy and forward-looking, a new breed of CFO is emerging. 83% of Finance leaders believe a new breed of CFOs is required (US 86%, UK 82%, Aus 89%).

The survey also asked what type of CFO respondents are most like and aspire to be. There was a difference. Most CFOs see themselves as Chief Facilitative Officers (55%), but most aspire to become Chief Fairness Officers (48%). That is different in the US and South Africa, with the majority aspiring to remain Chief Facilitative Officers (51% and 40%, respectively). Again a qualitative element might have drawn some interesting insights into this, and Chief Finance Officer was not an option listed.

Tomorrow’s CFO, today

This chapter is divided into three, with ESG, Cryptocurrency and the Metaverse prominent. Sage excluded the findings around diversity from the report and focused on the sustainability aspect of ESG. The research reflects a greater desire for CFOs to become involved (30%). More of the youngest finance leaders see this as a top priority going forward.

Cryptocurrency on the rise

Overall, 52% believe cryptocurrency will become a mainstream form of payment in the long term. Perhaps surprisingly, 44% have used cryptocurrency as a payment for personal transactions.

These figures are at odds with the responses from the World Economic Forum that found cryptocurrencies were most used in Nigeria by 21% and in the US by only 6%. Statista carried out that survey with between 1,000 and 4,000 participants by country. The demographic of the sample was different, though. In comparison, 47% of respondents in the US claimed to have used cryptocurrency.

While 17% of organisations currently accept cryptocurrency,  33% of respondents plan to accept cryptocurrency in the next year. Canadians were most likely (38%) and Australians least likely (25%). However, there are barriers to adoption, which are fairly common across boundaries. The top four globally are:

  • The use of cryptocurrencies does not align with my organization’s ESG policies (22%)
  • Finding the right talent to manage / process cryptocurrencies (22%)
  • Security
  • Tax / Accounting considerations

In the US, there is also greater concern about the environmental impact of cryptocurrency (22%), a valid concern for some cryptocurrencies.

The Metaverse

Perhaps some of the most surprising findings were that around the Metaverse. 36% of organisations have completely entered the Metaverse. The survey questions were very well worded and are worth noting here.

When thinking about the Metaverse (i.e., a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users), where does your organization see itself?

Considering that a further 52% have moderately progressed in entering the Metaverse at their organisations raises a question about what they have done and where. The Metaverse is still more concept than reality, and a qualitative follow up would have been useful to understand more about this. The US is the most progressive nation according to the research, with 46% already in the Metaverse and the UK furthest behind (30%)

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Sage has picked a subset of the data to focus on. A wise decision that makes an interesting read and one that finance leaders will gain some value from. The role of CFOs is changing. While Sage, as a technology company, is naturally highlighting the importance of new technologies, it is cognizant that they are a means to an end rather than the specific focus of the CFO.

Aaron Harris, Chief Technology Officer, Sage
Aaron Harris, Chief Technology Officer, Sage

Aaron Harris, Chief Technology Officer, Sage, commented: “I’m passionate about elevating the work of humans. By this, I mean letting the machines take the admin burden, spot anomalies, and automate repetitive tasks – freeing up humans to focus on what they do best.

“The Metaverse is a great example of the convergence of our digital and physical lives – integrating human touchpoints through digital means to knock down barriers. And while it’s still early days for most, the Metaverse is normalizing some emerging technologies like cryptocurrencies for SMBs which, in turn, removes friction and delivers insights.


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