Making big decisions in the face of big unknowns

Finance leaders are being pulled in multiple directions. They face tremendous economic and geopolitical uncertainty – not to mention new risks caused by advancing technologies. But they can also see huge growth opportunities for their teams and the wider business.

Finance leaders need to master a careful balancing act. Are they succeeding?

Our fourth annual survey of more than 2,000 finance professionals shows they are starting to.

50%

are struggling to balance the need to cut costs with the need to invest in growth.

34%

are exploring emerging technologies, which is up from 27% in 2023.

51%

are prioritizing investing in AI to drive risk management and business growth.

43%

plan to use ERP systems in two years to move money. Only 17% use them today.

Explore what finance teams are doing where you are.

See how finance leaders across the nation are viewing issues like geopolitical risk, cost control, integrated payments and more.

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.

Finance leaders are developing more balanced strategies.

Finance leaders are starting to pair defense with offense. Our research shows they’re carefully positioning themselves to balance short-term risk mitigation with long-term growth.

There’s a greater focus on costs.

Cost control and driving efficiency in the finance function is still finance leaders’ top priority. As in previous years, finance leaders say investing in new technology is the primary route to delivering savings. This is transforming payment processes with more and more businesses looking to embed digital payments.

Percentage of leaders prioritizing cost-cutting and efficiency
2024
0%
2023
0%
2022
0%

Increased business risk prompts action.

Although finance leaders are less likely to be worried about inflation this year, there are growing concerns over geopolitical tension. Some finance leaders aren’t confident that they can manage new threats, but the majority are exploring how AI and financial hedging strategies can help them.

Percentage of leaders prioritizing political risk
2024
0%
2023
0%
2022
0%

Digital transformation is about to take off.

Finance leaders admit there’s been limited progress on digital transformation in the past 12 months. But that could change soon as finance leaders become more open to exploring emerging technologies. They might also find implementing new technologies is easier as the workforce becomes less resistant to change.

Percentage of leaders exploring emerging technologies
2024
0%
2023
0%
0%

The long-term economic outlook is positive.

The majority of finance leaders are feeling more positive about the next three years than they are about the next 12 months. This is true for both the U.S. economy and for the financial prospects of their own businesses.

Percentage of leaders with a positive outlook on the U.S. economy
Next 3 years
0%
Next 12 months
0%
0%
Percentage of leaders with a positive outlook on the financial prospects of their businesses
Next 3 years
0%
Next 12 months
0%
0%

Interest in payments transformation surges

Risk mitigation, automation and improving customer experience have become the top three drivers of payments transformation. This is propelling adoption of digital payments, led by instant payments, with 51% currently using instant payments through the RTP® network and FedNow® Service and 80% planning to in two years.

Instant payments (RTP® network and FedNow Service®)
Adopt by 2026
0%
Using in 2024
0%
Used in 2023
0%
B2C (Zelle® / Venmo)
Adopt by 2026
0%
Using in 2024
0%
Used in 2023
0%
Push to debit card (e.g. Visa Direct)
Adopt by 2026
0%
Using in 2024
0%
Used in 2023
0%

Payments Research

Payments transformation finds a new gear.

Increasing adoption of digital payments is inspiring businesses to consider opportunities to embed payments into their existing systems. Interest in moving money within fintech and ERP systems is doubling over the next two years.

Learn what’s driving this wave of payments transformation by reading our latest research.

Image featuring the cover of this year’s CFO report, which shows a man and woman sitting together at in an office and looking at a laptop.

Read our 2024 CFO Insights Report.

Find out how the finance function is mastering the balance of offense and defense by focusing on cost control, risk mitigation, digital transformation and embedded payments.

Are finance teams ready to think more long-term?

As they balance short- and long-term goals, finance teams will need to do more.

For the third year running, finance leaders say talent shortages are their top business risk, and digital disruption is second. They’re far more willing now to experiment with new technology and innovative payment systems, but progress on digital transformation in the past year has been limited.

To overcome these challenges, CFOs need to strike a delicate balance between defensive and offensive strategies. They must control costs while investing in new technology, mitigate risks while striving to improve customer experiences, and restructure the workforce while nurturing talent.

They must lead the return to growth.

41% say a shortage of talent is the number one risk facing their business.

45% say they're struggling to balance the short- and long-term needs of the business.

More insights from finance leaders

What are California’s finance leaders focused on?

Man and woman, both wearing suits, seated at a large table and looking at a laptop together

Payments transformation kicks into high gear.

About the research

These results come from a survey of 2,030 senior finance leaders working in U.S. businesses. This year’s research follows “Leading the transformation,” our 2023 survey of 1,420 finance leaders. The previous edition of the research, “Leading through uncertainty,” was released in 2022. The first edition of the research, “Leading the recovery,” was released in 2021.

Job Roles

Company CFO

0%

Senior Manager

0%

SVP/VP/Head of finance department

0%

Regional/divisional CFO

0%

Other

0%

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 – 4.99 billion: 20%
  • $500 million – 19.9 million: 30%
  • $100 – 449 million: 40%

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 2024 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.

 

Error
Success

By providing us with an email address you are expressly consenting to receiving email communications — including but not limited to marketing material/advertising, promotions, sales campaigns, and questioner/research surveys.

Start of disclosure content
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.

Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.

RTP® is a registered trademark of The Clearing House Payments Company LLC.

Zelle® and the Zelle® related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.