BearingPoint’s latest study reveals that only 9% of European companies reach the third and highest level of digitalization in their CFO function, and only 12% of the finance professionals use their time on value-adding services, making it more challenging to adapt to growing uncertainty and new business requests.

Amsterdam / Zurich, May 19, 2020 – Management and technology consultancy BearingPoint’s new CFO 4.0 study reveals that although the digital maturity of European companies’ CFO functions is still halfway from the ideal, CFO functions are keen to invest more in digital development in the upcoming years. Digital readiness helps companies ensure business continuity in challenging business and market situations.

The ideal digital maturity level of the CFO function is characterized by digital technologies and capabilities and skills that improve processes and performance and drive new value-generating business models. BearingPoint’s latest study reveals that only 9% of European companies reach this level – the third and highest level of digitalization – in their CFO function. According to the research, the average digital maturity level in Europe was 4.9 out of 10.

Digitally mature companies recognize the value of digital innovations and have included those in their strategies. They also aim to utilize data more efficiently in decision-making processes and to have a technology-driven culture.

Lack of a clear strategy and vision are the biggest challenges to successful digitalization

According to the research, 41% of companies are currently focusing on operational efficiency improvements, where digital solutions improve day-to-day work through process streamlining and automation. On the other hand, 50% of the responding companies have already employed digital solutions to improve day-to-day work and are now serving other business functions and supporting the business with financial analytics and closer cooperation, accelerating the transformation of the whole company.

CFO's are forced to spend an extraordinary amount of time on managing core activities of the CFO function instead of providing value-added services due to inadequate organizational structures or inefficiency in technologies. Instead, the CFO should focus on the operating model, develop employee capabilities, and increase the linkage between strategy and digital technology solutions.

Anna Kremer, Senior Manager at BearingPoint

The research findings indicate that the biggest threats to successful digitalization are linked to culture, strategy, and people. Too many priorities and the lack of a clear strategy and vision are the two most significant challenges preventing successful digital transformation within the CFO function. The majority of the study respondents believed that the performance of the CFO function could be improved if employees were willing to experiment, take risks, and work in distributed teams.

Digital readiness helps companies ensure business continuity in turbulent market situations

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current focus of many CFOs is on critical business continuity, liquidity and performance. The current situation can either accelerate the digitalization within the CFO function or slow it down, depending on the capabilities of the organization. In this challenging context, it is essential for CFOs not to lose sight of the importance of short-, mid-, and long-term transformation goals of the CFO function. The study shows that only 12% of finance professionals use their time on value-adding services, making it more challenging to adapt to growing uncertainty and new business requests.

In the current COVID-19 crisis, many Chief Financial Officers are focusing on ensuring liquidity and stress testing the robustness of their companies' financials. The resilience of the finance value chain will undoubtedly trigger demand for further digitization of the CFO function. One thing is clear: CFOs become even more important players to guide companies through ambiguous times.

Claudio Stadelmann, Partner at BearingPoint

A balanced portfolio of measures can help balance the needs of short-term continuity management with more long-term, strategic transformational visions. The ability to seize opportunities fast and simplify processes is crucial so that the CFO function can support the business and create new business models as efficiently as possible.

Seizing opportunities quickly and optimizing processes are key skills that enable the CFO to support the company and develop new business models as efficiently as possible.

Claudio Stadelmann, Partner at BearingPoint

About the study
BearingPoint’s CFO 4.0 study assessed the digital transformation of companies’ CFO function in six European countries: Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland. A total of 163 companies from 7 industries were assessed through a survey directed at company CFOs. The aim of the study was to provide insights into the current state of the CFO functions’ digitalization and to increase understanding of how to leverage more value through digital solutions. The analysis was done at the country and industry level and from a digital foundation point of view. The digital foundation consists of strategy, organization, people, technology, and data perspectives, all elements being equally essential in the digital transformation of the finance function. Responses were reviewed from telecommunications, technology, financial services, the public sector, manufacturing, retail and energy, chemical, and oil and gas industries.

About BearingPoint

BearingPoint is an independent management and technology consultancy with European roots and a global reach. The company operates in three business units: The first unit covers the advisory business with a clear focus on five key areas to drive growth across all regions. The second unit provides IP-driven managed services beyond SaaS and offers business critical services to its clients supporting their business success. The third unit provides the software for successful digital transformation and regulatory requirements. It is also designed to explore innovative business models with clients and partners by driving the financing and development of start-ups and leveraging ecosystems.

BearingPoint’s clients include many of the world’s leading companies and organizations. The firm has a global consulting network with more than 10,000 people and supports clients in over 70 countries, engaging with them to achieve measurable and sustainable success.

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