Top Priorities for CFOs in 2023

Community Blog
Written by Katie McClure


Evanta, a Gartner Company, launched CFO communities across North America in the beginning of 2023, and we’re getting ready to kick off another round of Executive Summits and community gatherings in San Francisco, Washington, DC, New York and Chicago this fall.

It is our mission to create valuable programs that are “by CFOs, for CFOs,” and we do this through a two-fold process. First, our annual Leadership Perspective Survey gathers critical information about each community's interests, priorities and challenges. Second, we speak with dedicated Governing Body Members to verify the results. Together, this quantitative and qualitative data informs the agendas at our programs to ensure we meet the needs of the CFOs we serve.

Here, we share some of the highlights from the CFO survey, including their top enterprise priorities, mission critical functional objectives, and planned budget and spend for the next 12 months. 

CFOs’ Enterprise Priorities

Disruption is the new normal, and CFOs are continuing to endure perpetual economic uncertainty, talent issues and disruptive technology, i.e., generative AI. This is influencing CFOs’ enterprise-wide priorities, leading them to focus on:

  1. Increasing operational efficiencies and productivity
  2. Driving growth
  3. Optimizing or reducing costs

We ask all of our C-level community members about their priorities across the enterprise, and the focus from each member of the C-suite does not always mirror that of their peers. Comprehensively, the C-suite is thinking about ways to increase operational efficiencies and productivity and drive growth, but some variation appears between where they are concentrating their efforts.

As the CFO/CIO partnership continues to grow and CIOs play a more crucial role in business strategy, we see close alignment between their selections.  

CFOs’ Functional Priorities

CFOs say their top functional priority in 2023 is improving business processes, with 70% of respondents citing this issue. Overwhelmingly, financial leaders listed competing priorities as their greatest challenge in this area, and they mentioned how this, along with limited employee adoption and a lack of skills, is holding them back from improving business outcomes and making data-driven decisions.

Coming in at a close 2nd is talent and leadership development (68%). CFO responses highlight how business is evolving at such a quick rate that employees' skills no longer match the needs of the organization, and developing skills is their top goal in this category. This theme is also common across the C-suite.

Here is the complete list of top priorities within the CFO function for 2023:

  1. Improving Business Processes
  2. Talent and Leadership Development
  3. Developing a Roadmap for Transforming the Finance Function
  4. Data & Analytics
  5. Cost Optimization

In the survey, financial leaders expressed a desire to learn both strategy and execution tips from their peers in all of these areas, and in response, the discussion topics at upcoming community gatherings will be formulated around these objectives. Preview the agendas here.

CFOs’ Budgets and Planned Spending in 2023

In addition to top priorities, we asked executives about their budgets and planned spending for the year. Although financial leaders have encountered economic headwinds, their responses provide an optimistic outlook for the future.

In terms of budget, approximately two-thirds (64%) of CFOs said their budget increased from the previous year, 23% cited no change, and only 14% said their budget decreased from 2022. 

Planned spending also increased for the majority of financial leaders (74%). While 14% said their planned spending remained the same as last year, and 12% said their spending decreased from 2022. Where they differ, however, is in their planned spending areas. Data and analytics was the top choice, with 56% of responses. The other top results were evenly distributed between financial reporting, accounts payable and receivable, business intelligence and strategic planning and FP&A.

In closing, 2023 is all about efficiency and productivity for the CFO. With so much uncertainty in the marketplace and the talent pool, financial leaders are focusing on how they can transform both their people and technology to sustain persistent change and improve business outcomes. 

Apply to join your local CFO community and do not not miss the opportunity to connect with like-minded financial leaders on these mission critical topics at one of our upcoming programs. View the calendar here.

Katie McClure headshot

Katie McClure

Content Manager at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CFOs, for CFOs

Find your local community and explore the benefits of becoming a member.