June 20, 2024
Finance

CFOs focus on Finance Transformation as the key enabler of their KRAs in FY24-25


Last financial year turned out to be great for Indian companies (especially larger market cap) as on average the NIFTY 50 companies managed to generate an +8.1% growth in Revenue and a +17.4% growth in Earnings over FY23. As the firms move into the new financial year, CFOs have a busy agenda for the year ahead. 

According to a survey by Resource Bridge among 200 CFOs in the country, CFOs are likely to spend their time this year on three major issues – step up pace on finance transformation, continue focus on profitability improvement and unlock further revenue growth. Underpinning all of these would be the increasing adoption and deployment of digital and IT technology.

“We have spent a major part of the last year on upgrading and integrating SAP across the businesses, which has yielded significant benefits and we continue to explore opportunities to leverage technology to improve business outcomes” said N Venkataraman, ED & CFO of Britannia Industries. Ever since Covid times, as well as in the current year, CFOs are projecting to spend 25-30% of their time on such digitalization and technology-enabled finance transformation initiatives, whether it is moving to SAP HANA or to deploying RPAs to automate the processes.  For companies who set out early on this journey, this automation has recreated a singular financial system for multiple uses of reporting, MIS, GRC and analytics. The results from this are unlocking multiple agendas that help the entire organization.

Profitability was a key focus area for CFOs last year and features prominently in this year’s radar for the CFOs, with 40% of their attention being directed to profit improvement. Besides cost improvement projects, pricing and cash optimisation, several strategic themes are adding fuel to this agenda. For example, creating the commercial base team and putting in compliance and risk-based controls to tighten profitability has led to better spend management and on-the-ground execution of profitability and margin protection. CFOs will continue to explore innovative approaches to improve profitability. One such approach is, according to Mahadeo Karnik, CFO of Abbott India, “adopting a PE mindset” and re-channelling investments to the top 100 brands which bring 80% of the business. Levers such as sourcing, manufacturing process re-engineering, channel mix, customer segmentation continue to be in play. 

Growth, like profitability, continues to occupy CFOs attention, to the extent of 25-30% of their time this year. According to Saroja Ramadhurai, a veteran CFO headhunter who leads the CFO Practice at Resource Bridge, in an interesting development, mature CFOs are being deployed in more strategic roles that have a strong growth focus.  For instance, Jayashree Satagopan of Coromandel International has been given added responsibility of the office of Chief Growth Officer apart from her earlier role as Group CFO. Further, companies continue to leverage M&A to introduce new products, enter value-added segments and expand presence in export markets. In all these, CFOs expect to play a key role in this year.

CFOs today are seen more as enablers and business leaders rather than sounding boards or advisors. “All in all, the years ahead are likely to be exciting for CFOs and those who are able to strategically align to the changing demands, are likely to be rewarded with more exciting responsibilities” says Saroja.

AUTHOR’S BIO 

Saroja Ramadhurai is a cost accountant, co-founder Partner and Lead – CFO Practice at Resource Bridge. Resource Bridge exclusively specializes only in CEO & CFO Roles, and has worked with clients across industries and geographies within India and outside.



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