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CFO become business partner

The transformation to a business partner has been a goal of CFOs for years, but it is only the effects of the multi-crisis and the topics of digitalization and sustainability that are putting CFOs more at the center of corporate management.
E3 Magazine
19 October 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

For example, 85 percent of CFOs perceive digitization pressure as a driver for major change in the coming years. In addition, ESG regulation concerns around 80 percent of CFOs, while at the same time 76 percent see dealing with the consequences of the current trouble spots as the most important task for the future. Only 40 percent of CFOs currently see their division as very or somewhat well positioned to respond to crises. These are the findings of the Lünendonk study "Finance Transformation 2025 - Aligning the Finance Function for the Future," which was prepared in professional collaboration with KPMG. It shows how far companies are on the road to a modern finance function at the center of a data-driven enterprise and digital transformation.

To ensure that the finance department is better positioned to identify and manage crises at an early stage in the future, the CFOs and finance managers surveyed prioritized a whole range of areas for action. Topics relating to data management are rated particularly highly. For example, 56 percent of the companies surveyed focus strongly or even very strongly on creating a uniform database. An important instrument for achieving this goal is greater harmonization, centralization and standardization of data management. In combination with end-to-end processes, digital technologies such as chatbots, self-service business intelligence (BI), process mining and RPA provide support. This significantly reduces the effort required for routine tasks such as data procurement, plausibility checks and validation, and reporting.

In order to successfully navigate the path to becoming a business partner in the face of a shortage of skilled workers, the use of digital technologies will be crucial, for example, to manage increasing ESG regulation more efficiently or to advance the transformation to a data-driven company. With process optimization and the use of artificial intelligence, generative AI or robotic process automation (RPA), the CFOs surveyed want to increase efficiency and effectiveness by automating more routine tasks. 

More efficiency in data management and greater speed in reporting are what 50 percent of the respondents want to achieve by placing a stronger focus on building a predefined and expandable catalog of key figures and data. In addition to optimizing data management, the finance functions surveyed will focus on enterprise-wide IT integration of planning processes and on optimizing the BI tools used in the coming years.

As part of the financial transformation, the focus in most companies in the coming years will be on building more data expertise and optimizing data management. Data architectures must be modernized, silos broken down and end-to-end process chains established throughout the company. However, the study shows that the clear majority of companies are still in the early stages of establishing end-to-end process chains, with only 26 percent of respondents describing themselves as advanced. 

One of the most important tasks for the future is increasing regulation, for which CFOs are responsible in most of the companies surveyed. Thus, 78 percent of the respondents state that sustainability in corporate management has a major influence on the work of the finance function. In particular, sustainability reporting around the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) is in focus. In four out of ten companies, the finance function is already entrusted with the collection and preparation of data for regulatory reporting.

The Lünendonk study "Finance Transformation 2025 - Aligning the finance function for the future" was prepared in collaboration with KPMG and is now available for download free of charge at For this study, 100 finance, business and IT managers from upper midsize companies and corporations from various industries in the DACH region were surveyed.

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