CFO Strategies: Gen AI, consensus, divestitures & more
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CFOs, take note: 5 emerging trends for success

Lavi Sharma

Senior Partner- Finance and Accounting

Vivek Saxena

Finance and Accounting and Enterprise Risk and Compliance Service Line Leader



What's in the works for CFOs for the rest of the year? From adopting generative AI (gen AI) to embracing consensus forecasting, here are five emerging trends that will help CFOs lead their companies to success.

1. CFOs will find new ways to manage cost and growth in a dynamic environment

CFOs are striking a delicate balance between cost and growth to navigate turbulent waters. To drive organic growth, they'll be using sharper insights and forecasts that prioritize customers and products. And with global instability and economic pressures continuing to impact their organizations, they'll use extensive scenario planning to build new business models that are agile enough to withstand volatility.

Unfortunately, the shortage of accountants with the right combination of skills isn't showing signs of slowing. As a result, many CFOs are on the hunt for new ways to attract and retain skilled employees. To boost employee engagement while curbing costs, we suggest a taxonomy-based approach to create the right service placement and competency-based operating models. By implementing end-to-end digitization and reimagining processes, employees will be able to focus on more fulfilling activities that maximize their skills and potential.

2. Gen AI will take its seat as the finance operations' copilot

Gen AI is emerging as a valuable assistant to accountants, enabling them to deliver and create value. For example, savvy finance teams already use the tech to empower their accounts payable helpdesks to improve user experiences by learning how suppliers and customers talk and what's important to them. This leads to deeper supplier loyalty and more fruitful vendor negotiations.

CFOs are also embracing gen AI's power to enhance partnerships across the business by generating actionable insights and writing intelligent commentary tailored to teams' specific needs and interests. It also makes the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) process more proactive by giving real-time answers – rather than tapping into a retroactive repository of charts and diagrams – that improve decision-making, communication, and strategic alignment.

In addition, accountants will increasingly be asked to monitor gen AI models, ensuring their outputs are accurate, compliant, and ethically aligned. This underscores the need for CFOs to facilitate training on how to guide and optimize gen AI through effective prompt engineering.

With the European Union greenlighting the AI Governance Act, it's essential for CFOs to integrate these new rules into their gen AI strategies. This means setting up clear rules for AI that follow the principles of responsible use, making sure AI systems are secure, explainable, and unbiased. CFOs should also boost the role of Risk Centers of Excellence in their businesses, ensuring risk management is a key part of AI development and its lifecycle. Additionally, they should put in place regular checks and reporting for AI systems to create effective and ethically sound finance functions.

3. Business functions will receive relevant insights from dedicated finance specialists

As a way of democratizing intelligence, CFOs will give business functions access to financial skills and insights tailored to their needs. This transforms the role of finance from a supporting player to a central partner, driving business success in several key ways.

When finance collaborates more closely with marketing, operations, and sales, for example, companies will see better and faster decision-making, ushering in profitable growth. And with finance professionals readily available to develop specific intelligence and strategies for each department, financial acumen and performance will improve across the organization.

Having access to relevant financial insights will also boost proactive risk management by offering strategic forecasting and planning tailored to each business unit.

4. Consensus forecasting and scenario-based decisions will be the new norm for decision-making

CFOs will play an increasingly central role through consensus forecasting. This process combines multiple stakeholders' perspectives with external experts and sources to create a more accurate and comprehensive forecast for the company's financial future.

By orchestrating this collaborative approach, CFOs will use their unique roles at the intersection of finance, strategy, and operations to bring together insights from multiple functions. When blended with input from objective external information, such as market trends and industry analysis, the result offers an unbiased baseline.

It's also crucial for CFOs to adapt to scenario-based decision-making, which involves considering multiple what-if scenarios, rather than making a single decision based on one prediction. Whether it's sustainability, new regulations, or go-to-market, this approach allows a company to prepare for a range of outcomes, resulting in more informed, flexible, and resilient decisions.

5. Divestitures are on the rise, and CFOs will need to make sure they run smoothly

The number of divestitures is growing, and we expect this trend to continue. Businesses are offloading noncore assets because they can't afford to tie up more capital investment or the management effort it takes to run them. Meanwhile, the new entities want to make a clean break from their previous companies and don't want to carry the legacy burden.

What does this trend mean for CFOs? In mid-cap businesses, they'll be front and center, leading on execution. They'll need to bring their expertise on how to break apart and create process operating models, systems, talent, access controls, and more. For example, they'll need to ensure that both the divested entity and the remaining company have the necessary technological support, assess staffing needs, manage the transition process for employees, and enable regulatory and legal compliance.

Charting new paths

As we look ahead, these trends highlight how finance leaders are key to guiding companies through new challenges and opportunities, enabling growth and success in a rapidly changing world.

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