With Rising Pressure on CFOs, Don’t Debate – Just Automate

In this, the digital age, any savvy CFO knows the traditional job description of managing the company’s financial planning and reporting is no longer sufficient.

Now, in the age of automation, a CFO is also expected to act as a business partner to the chief executive officer, have a holistic view of the enterprise, and leverage data to provide fresh insights on profitable cash management opportunities.

It’s a marriage of convenience for the economics and technology realm, and CFOs are squarely in the middle.

“You are in a totally different economic climate now … It’s not as easy to grow as it has been in the past, which puts more pressure on operational and execution excellence as a company, as well as heightens the focus on strategic decision-making,” says Ninos Sarkis, CFO at Bloomreach, in an interview this week with PYMNTS and its “Day in the Life of a CFO” series.

It’s one thing for a CFO to have to manage a company’s financial growth, but it’s another to manage it with additional pressure to produce profit in an era of high interest rates, high inflation, and a sharper government eye on regulation and compliance.

That leads to some intriguing and pressure-packed questions for CFOs, who now have more skin in the game than ever.

“It’s important to talk about where we’re spending dollars, what the return on investments are for the different leaders across the organization,” Sarkis says in the interview. “If you’re thinking about entering new countries, is it really the right time to do that? Or is it better to double down on where you know you’re strong and make those parts more efficient?”

“The dialogue and the interaction with other business leaders has ramped up, and I think that will continue over the next six to 12 months,” he adds. “You can’t control the geopolitical tensions, but what you can control is making your business stronger and more resilient during these times so that you come out the back of it a stronger company … there’s a lot of relatively low-hanging fruit to make a business more efficient, more scalable and more automated.”

A Pivot to AI and More Automation

To stay one step ahead of all those pressure points, CFOs need to integrate AI and automation into their company’s DNA to make more precise and more data-backed decisions and to also take the pressure off of company teams tasked with laborious and time-consuming tasks.

“It’s important to improve automation so that finance teams are doing less manual tasks and focusing their time on what really helps the business,” Sarkis says.

In tough economic times, automation can help clear the deck for CFOs so they can help company staff focus on real opportunities instead of inputting data or taking days to put together financial reports.

“The finance team is more important today than it has been historically,” Sarkis tells PYMNTS. “It’s harder to grow and we are asking the business to be more efficient, which means that teams will naturally come back to finance and say, ‘help me get there, what can I do?”

“You lean more on your finance team in times where there are less dollars for investment,” he adds.

Sarkis has been with Bloomreach, an AI-based e-commerce company based in San Jose, Calif., since 2023. Find the “Day in the Life of a CEO” series at PYMNTS.com.

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