Navigating a dynamic business and economic landscape

It's a challenging time for U.S. businesses. Economists continue to debate the potential and magnitude of an economic downturn; inflation remains elevated in parts of the economy; low unemployment makes it difficult to recruit. And it still feels like the next financial news headline about supply chain issues, the economy or a geopolitical conflict is just around the corner.

Finance leaders need to help their business navigate uncertainty. But are they?

Our third annual survey of more than 1,400 senior U.S. finance professionals shows that they are — and rather than making gradual changes, they are taking a transformative approach.

49%

of finance leaders say rising interest rates and the end of cheap money challenge the sustainability of their finance model.

35%

are exploring and reviewing new technologies to drive business growth and transformation.

31%

work on environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting, down from 41% two years ago.

68%

plan to use instant payments in two years, compared with 42% today.

Finance leaders are changing their priorities in a big way.

Finance leaders aren’t making changes little by little. The research shows that they’re taking a rounded, transformative approach.

Cutting costs and driving efficiencies within the finance function

Today, finance leaders say that cost control and driving efficiencies in the finance function is their number one priority. Two years ago, it was only eighth. There will be much less time devoted to growth initiatives such as M&A, evaluating new business models and topics such as sustainable finance and ESG.

This is a bar chart showing the percentage of financial leaders who are prioritizing cost-cutting at their organizations. In 2021, it was 23 percent of survey respondents. In 2022, it rose to 30 percent. In 2023, it rose to 38 percent.

Deploying technology within the finance function

Unlike two years ago, finance leaders’ top way of cutting costs is to invest in new technology. And most say that artificial intelligence (AI) could redefine how the finance function operates.

This is a bar chart showing the percentage of financial leaders who are prioritizing technology investments at their organizations. In 2021, it was 25 percent of survey respondents. In 2022, it rose to 30 percent. In 2023, it rose to 32 percent.

Improving risk identification and mitigation

Talent shortages, the pace of technology change and inflation have risen on finance leaders’ agendas. Supply chain disruption and changing customer demands and expectations have dropped down the list.

This is a bar chart showing the percentage of financial leaders who are reordering their material risk priorities. In 2021, it was 18 percent of survey respondents. In 2022, it rose to 30 percent. In 2023, it rose slightly again, to 31 percent.

Giving customers new ways to pay

Finance teams are increasing their use of digital payment methods such as instant payments. By 2025, 68% of them intend to use real-time payment rails including the RTP® network and the FedNow® Service.

This is a bar chart showing the percentage of financial leaders whose companies use instant payments. In 2022, 38 percent of survey respondents were using them. In 2023, it rose to 42 percent.

Explore what finance teams are doing where you are.

We have surveyed 1,420 finance professionals in businesses across the U.S. on a range of topics including strategic priorities, new risks, digital transformation, instant payments and ESG.

Click on a region on the map or select a region from the drop-down list to see more region-specific details.

Select a region from the drop-down list to see more region-specific details.

Choose region

New England Mid-Atlantic South Midwest Southwest West
Regional map of the Western states of America. Alaska, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Regional map of the Midwestern states of America. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Regional map of the Mid-Atlantic states of America. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Regional map of New-England states of America. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Regional map of the Southwestern states of America. Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Regional map of the Southern states of America. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Want to learn more about the views of California's finance leaders?

Download our report
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Read the full 2023 CFO Insights Report.

Discover how the finance function is repositioning itself as a driver of change by focusing on cost control, digital transformation, talent acquisition and retention, instant payments and more.

But are finance teams ready to transform?

As they transform, finance teams will need to refresh and reinforce their capabilities.

If they pull back from activities such as evaluating new business models or measuring their supply chain's exposure to climate change, they could become more vulnerable to long-term risks or miss opportunities. Finance leaders know about this, and it’s getting harder: 56% say they struggle to balance cost-cutting with investment in future growth, compared with 46% two years ago.

Overcoming these challenges needs vision and leadership from the CFO. They must devise a digital transformation strategy, make smart risk mitigation decisions, forge close relations with people across the business, and show they’re willing to experiment with new technology.

They must lead the transformation.

 

This is a circular graphic showing the figure 8 percent in the middle of the circle, indicating that only 8 percent of finance leaders surveyed are highly confident about managing talent risks.
Two people looking and pointing at a chart on a laptop.

Businesses are gearing up to adopt instant payments.

With both the RTP® network and the FedNow® Service up and running, more companies are getting ready to use instant payments. In fact, 68% of finance leaders we surveyed said they plan to use these services within the next two years. Check out our research findings to learn why and to get tips to ease your own adoption of instant payments.

More insights from finance leaders

Man wearing glasses sitting at a desk in front of a laptop and looking at his tablet device at the same time.

Is the economy finding its footing?

Man and woman dressed professionally walking together down a hallway in a large office building.

California’s finance leaders are looking ahead.

Image of a doctor and a healthcare administrator sitting next to each other. The doctor has a stethoscope and the administrator is holding a tablet device.

Healthcare finance leaders turn to technology.

Woman wearing a suit with her arms crossed and smiling at the camera.

Finance leaders invest in transformative tech.

About the research

The results of this research come from a survey of 1,420 senior finance leaders working in U.S. businesses. This year’s research follows “Leading through uncertainty,” our 2022 survey of 750 finance leaders. The first edition of the research, "Leading the recovery", was released in 2021.

Job Roles

This image is a bar chart showing the percentage of survey respondents by job role. 30 percent of respondents were group CFOs. 25 percent were senior managers. 20 percent were regional or divisional CFOs. 15 percent were senior vice presidents, vice presidents or heads of finance departments. The remaining 10 percent were financial controllers, chief accounting officers or treasurers.

Company sizes

Every survey respondent works for an organization that generates at least $100 million in annual revenue. This is the percentage of respondents by annual revenue:

  • >$5 billion: 10%
  • $2 – 5 billion: 20%
  • $1 – 1.9 billion: 9%
  • $500 – 999.9 million: 21%
  • $250 – 499.9 million: 14%
  • $100 – 249.9 million: 26%

By obtaining responses from finance leaders across a wide range of sectors, company sizes and job roles, we are able to provide a report that incorporates a wide range of viewpoints.

Access the full CFO Insights Report.

 

This year’s CFO Insights Report offers unique and valuable perspective from senior finance leaders across industries and across the nation. Please complete the form below to receive your PDF copy of the report.

 

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Disclosures

This discussion is intended to be informational only and is not exhaustive or conclusive. It is not intended to serve as a recommendation or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any particular product or service. It does not constitute advice and is issued without regard to any particular objective or the financial situation of any particular individual. Some of the information provided has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness. Other information represents the opinion of U.S. Bank and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. U.S. Bank and its representatives do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Each individual's financial situation is unique. You should consult your tax, accounting and/or legal advisor for advice and information concerning your particular situation.

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