Nearly half of mid-sized CFOs fear business failure in 3 to 5 years

Forty five percent of CFOs surveyed from a broad range of Australian mid-sized companies identified their businesses to be at risk of failure during the next 3 to 5 years if innovation, future-proofing and risk management is not prioritised over and above ‘business as usual’ activity.

Forty percent of those surveyed for the qualitative study were from the manufacturing and primary industry sector. The survey revealed that, comparatively, manufacturing is not a forward thinking sector when it comes to future proofing.

The American Express CFO Future-proofing Survey examined the views of 285 CFOs from companies with revenues between $2 million and $200 million as part of an exploration of future-proofing strategies being used to navigate increasingly competitive times.

Also, less CFOs in the manufacturing sector have a high or very high appetite for risk: 19 percent vs 30 percent average. CFOs in the sector are also less likely to have sufficient investment for recruiting, managing and leading employees (40 percent vs 64 percent average) and marketing and promotion (38 percent vs 52 percent).

The results are published in a white paper titled: Innovation or Fail: Anticipate Risk, Act and Thrive and were unveiled  at an event in Sydney for nearly 100 financial decision makers.  

More than half (58 percent) of CFOs reported their role has changed significantly in the last one to two years. More than 75 percent of CFOs play a significant role in helping to lead future proofing strategies.  Sixty-four percent said there’s a bigger focus on future-proofing than 12 months ago.

Harnessing technology is a significant missed opportunity, with only a fraction of those surveyed (7 percent) identifying technology as the most competitive aspect of their business.

Christine Wakefield, Vice President, American Express Global Corporate Payments remarked: “The appetite for innovation is definitely there. However many mid-sized CFOs are still focused on ‘business as usual’ improvements, rather than transformational change that would make a real impact on their future.

“The businesses we talked to are financially successful now, but some CFOs don’t have a clear vision of how to build a future-proofing plan.  It’s time to get cracking or face the repercussions.

“CFOs need to take action now: create a plan of attack and lead your businesses into the future."

American Express CFO Future-proofing Survey

Download the full report (no registration required).