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In 2011, the primary concern of most CFOs was to help the organization survive the financial crisis and manage the challenges presented in its aftermath. Today most companies have left the economic downturn behind, and growth is finally returning to the corporate agenda. As a result, the CFO must not only continue to manage the business in terms of traditional finance responsibilities, but also to develop and deliver growth strategies for the organization overall.

In our recently released High Performance Finance study, Accenture explores the evolution of the CFO’s role and the position’s ever-widening agenda. The project surveyed 617 senior finance executives across 10 industries and from 28 countries. The resulting report confirms that CFOs have increased their strategic influence over the past several years, and the trend shows no signs of stopping. (See Figure 1, below.)

One of the key findings of our research is that CFOs have made extraordinary strides in dealing with external forces that engulfed companies right after the downturn—for example, regulation. Just 39 percent of this year’s survey respondents said regulations are having a strong impact on their finance function, compared with 53 percent two years ago. Similarly, CFOs’ growing digital literacy is helping them get a better handle on data, which continues to expand exponentially in volume, variety, and velocity. Even the perennial problem of attracting, retaining, and motivating the right kind of finance talent is a major issue for only 21 percent of respondents, versus 40 percent in 2011.

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