4 Financial Trends for 2024 and What CFOs Need to Know

As we step into 2024, the financial landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace, influenced by several emerging trends. These trends, ranging from advancements in FinTech to shifts in regulatory norms, are reshaping the responsibilities and expectations placed on CFOs. This post aims to illuminate four key financial trends that CFOs need to keep on their radar in 2024, providing insights into how they can navigate these changes effectively and continue driving their organizations toward financial stability and growth.

CFOs Name Technology as a Top Business Priority

In a 2023 survey, forty-two percent of finance executives said their highest priorities for the year were adopting new fintech or replacing legacy finance systems. The primary motivator reported was finding efficiency, followed by better data visibility, and operational cost savings. In 2024, technology remains a top priority for CFOs as it becomes increasingly integral to all aspects of financial operations. 

A report by CFO.com emphasizes how technology is being leveraged not only to streamline routine tasks and improve efficiency, but also to generate insights that drive strategic decision-making.

According to a U.S. Bank survey of 1,420 senior finance professionals, more than a third (38%) of those surveyed said they’re prioritizing cost-cutting in their departments. In a related survey conducted by the bank back in 2021, finance professionals placed much less emphasis on this area, ranking it eighth on their list of priorities. Evidently, the focus of finance departments has shifted significantly, with technology now viewed as the cornerstone that will deliver greater cost efficiency.

As TravelBank CFO, Lloyd Hsieh explains, “In the past we could “throw people at problems, but when new headcount is limited, we have to be more creative and find efficiencies with software.” And this focus on software is creating closer ties between the CFO and CTO offices. 

A Chief Executive article underscores the significance of this collaboration, suggesting that a strong CFO-CTO partnership is pivotal for managing and optimizing tech costs. This collaborative approach facilitates a better understanding of technology investments, their returns, and their impact on the organization’s overall financial health. It further promotes a shift toward strategic, value-driven tech investments, rather than cost-centered ones.

This trend signifies a shift in the CFO’s role from being a mere custodian of financial information to becoming an innovator and strategic cross-functional leader.

Further reading on this financial trend:

CFOs are beginning to experiment with generative AI due to the ongoing talent shortage

As the talent shortage continues, CFOs are increasingly turning to generative artificial intelligence (AI) to augment their existing teams and streamline their operations. According to an article on CPA Practice Advisor, this trend is being fueled by the ongoing scarcity of skilled financial professionals. AI technologies, particularly generative AI, have the potential to automate routine tasks, improve accuracy, and generate financial insights, thus offsetting the impact of the talent shortage. CFOs who can successfully integrate AI into their operations will not only mitigate the effects of the skills gap but also position their organizations for increased financial efficiency and growth.

In the face of continuing economic uncertainties and volatile markets, CFOs are capitalizing on AI to optimize working capital management. A PYMNTS report highlights the role of AI in enabling CFOs to improve forecasting accuracy, manage inventory more effectively, and accelerate collections – all critical components of working capital management. As a result, organizations can free up trapped cash, boost liquidity, and ultimately drive business growth.

In addition to operational efficiencies, AI’s predictive capabilities also provide CFOs with insights into potential risks and opportunities, aiding in more strategic decision-making. This trend reinforces the transformative role of AI in financial management and the evolving role of CFOs as they harness technologically advanced tools to navigate complex financial landscapes.

Further reading on this financial trend:

The role of the CFO has transformed in recent years 

Over the past few years, the role of the CFO has undergone a significant transformation. No longer confined to traditional finance functions, the CFO has emerged as a strategic partner integral to the organization’s operational and strategic decision-making. The changing business landscape, characterized by economic uncertainty and volatile markets, has only underscored the importance of the CFO in guiding the organization through these challenges. 

A recent article on CFO.com further highlights how CFOs are stepping up to the challenge by adopting a more proactive approach to managing working capital. By placing greater emphasis on efficient cash-to-order cycles, CFOs are helping their organizations navigate economic uncertainties, maintain liquidity, and ensure business continuity. This proactive approach is a testament to the CFO’s elevated role in driving business success amid challenging times.

The transformation of the CFO’s role is further affirmed by a Deloitte study which suggests that modern CFOs are increasingly becoming strategic advisors, leveraging financial data to inform key business decisions. This evolution emphasizes the shift from purely financial responsibilities towards a more holistic role in managing and driving organizational success.

Further reading on this financial trend:

Upskilling the finance function has become vital for CFOs

CFOs are recognizing the necessity to upskill their finance teams to navigate the evolving financial landscape effectively. Upskilling is no longer a luxury but a crucial strategic move to drive innovation, enhance productivity, and maintain a competitive edge. CFOs must ensure their teams possess the necessary skills to harness the full potential of emerging technologies, interpret vast amounts of data, and make informed financial decisions. According to an article on CFO.com, upskilling the finance function involves a systematic process, including identifying skill gaps, providing targeted training, promoting a culture of continuous learning, and measuring the impact of these upskilling efforts. This proactive approach to upskilling strengthens the finance function’s ability to contribute to the organization’s strategic objectives and future-proof the business against upcoming challenges.

Continued investment in upskilling the workforce has marked financial benefits. A Forbes article emphasizes the bottom-line impact of upskilling. It suggests that organizations that commit to workforce upskilling can derive significant financial returns by improving workforce productivity, reducing hiring costs, and increasing employee retention rates. These financial gains serve as a compelling justification for CFOs to prioritize and invest in upskilling initiatives.

Further reading on this financial trend:

2024 Financial Trends in Summary

Considering these finance trends, the dynamic and evolving role of CFOs in the current business landscape is undeniable. As they navigate through economic uncertainties, leverage AI for strategic insights, transform their roles into strategic advisors, and champion the upskilling of their teams, CFOs are redefining financial management. Their proactive approach and strategic foresight are vital in driving business success and ensuring organizational resilience in the face of challenges. The future of financial leadership, thus, lies in embracing technological advancements, fostering continuous learning, and adopting a more holistic and strategic approach to finance.