A new report states that digital transformation in finance will be the main priority for public sector chief financial officers over the next five years
New research by EY, which surveyed 19 public sector chief finance officers (CFOs) in the UK, stated that 58% ranked improving performance through a digital transformation as the most important priority for their organisation.
In comparison, 26% of CFOs said that driving cost efficiencies through automation and outsourcing was their priority.
The changing role of a CFO
The report also stated that many CFOs roles are changing as they are being called upon to support chief executives, with 68% saying they spend more time providing analysis and insight to leaders compare to five years ago.
In addition to this, 63% of finance chiefs said they now spend more time supporting their organisations developmental and strategic goals, with 53% saying they are increasingly taking the lead in developing and defining overall strategy.
Darra Singh, Head of UK Government and Public Sector at EY, said: “Public sector CFOs are adapting to a changing role where they are taking on more responsibility and are becoming an indispensable part of leadership within local authorities, councils and Whitehall.
“The pressure to deliver more with less in the public sector has thrust the role into the spotlight and they are responding to this challenge in different ways.”
New roles lead to recruitment challenges
The survey also highlights the challenges of recruiting leaders with 74% of CFOs agreeing or strongly agreeing that organisations are facing a growing talent challenge.
90% of CFOs surveyed said they would need to recruit from a more diverse talent pool to find the next generation of finance leaders who can thrive in this new environment.
Darra added: “While there is an abundance of specialised finance professionals in the private sector, those with Treasury management, corporate finance and procurement expertise can be harder to find in the public sector.
“Competing for talent, particularly in a budget constrained environment can also pose challenges.”