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CFOs Prepare for Uncertainty as They Outline Their Priorities for 2024

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jan 2, 2024

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The past year ended with good news about the stock market and the economy in general, as well as enthusiasm for new technologies and lessened fears of a recession, but many chief financial officers interviewed by The Wall Street Journal remained cautious about the year ahead. 

The global macro environment is what Cloud software provider ServiceNow ’s CFO Gina Mastantuono watches most closely, including the interest-rate landscape and inflation trends, as she thinks about how to make her business more resilient and better positioned to invest for growth. 

“While I do feel like many CFOs have become more comfortable operating in this uncertainty, building a business that’s resilient and building resilience into the business, I think is a constant, delicate balancing act that CFOs have really got to manage well, and I think it’s a balancing act between being offensive and defensive,” she said. 

Academy Sports + Outdoors CFO Carl Ford, who also serves as executive vice president, said that he “would probably start with the health of the American consumer. I am seeing an average customer who is under a tremendous amount of pressure.” In response, his company is offering a variety of products, allowing customers to buy what fits their budgets. 

For Broadridge Financial Solutions CFO Edmund Reese, the focus is on managing talent—specifically, in his case, attracting and retaining technology professionals and engineers. 

“Broadridge competes with well-known technology companies to attract and retain software engineer talent,” he said. “Each one of those environments are all very different, but what is the same is that you have to focus on the right things: people, clients and capital strength.”  

Cost management remains paramount for top executives, as companies continue to prioritize finding efficiencies and staying profitable, according to Paul Goydan, managing director and senior partner at Boston Consulting Group. 

“Both the cost-of-living crisis and energy crisis have somewhat limited the ability for prices to rise and increasingly, [and] you see companies coming under more pressure to take it out of their margin,” Goydan said, on why companies are continuing to prioritize cost savings. “But the sheer volume of unknowns in their 2024 plans has reached a level that many CFOs haven’t yet seen in their careers.” 

Ravi Inukonda, CFO at DoorDash, said that CFOs must be more than the people who sign off on financial plans and expenses; they need to be strategic partners with other areas of the company.

“Think of finance as a multi-dimensional organization that is driving business results,” he said. “Our mission for the finance team is very simple: Partner with the business, make them successful.” 

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