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Just 31% of younger finance employees feel their CFO listens to them

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You’re probably asking your younger staff members for ideas. But are you actually listening to them?

Recent EY research found that by excelling in six key areas that address psychological and emotional pressures, CFOs can help increase the likelihood of a successful company transformation from a 28% chance of success, up to 73%. EY and the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School surveyed 935 senior leaders and direct reports, and 1,127 workforce members from 23 countries and 16 industry sectors.

One of the six recommended actions for CFOs is to create a vision and define a compelling “why” for the transformation, or else it will be misunderstood. Another key finding: 46% of finance leaders say they accept ideas from junior personnel, but only 31% of finance workers felt leaders listen to them, according to the report. “The highest performing CFOs have emotional intelligence,” listen to their teams, and understand their needs, says Myles Corson, EY global strategy and markets leader for financial accounting advisory services.

‘I felt like sharing my opinion was not needed’

I decided to ask the perspective of a young finance professional just starting in her career whom I previously met on LinkedIn. She graduated from college with a degree in finance about 18 months ago. Her first job in finance is as a financial planning and analysis (FP&A) analyst for a health care startup that went through a transformation process. She reports to a director but has regular contact with the CFO.

Are you comfortable sharing your ideas with the CFO? “Since I joined very fresh out of college, at first, I was holding back a little bit,” explains the young professional who chose to remain anonymous. At the time, the company was working on raising capital. “Some of the times when we were discussing topics with the CEO or other high-level executives, I felt like sharing my opinion was not needed when my opinion was very contradictory to what was being said at the table.”

But over time, her perspective changed. “Eventually, when I was talking to the CFO, as well as my other team member who was a senior FP&A analyst, they encouraged me to share my opinions no matter who’s at the table.”

The company’s tech transformation and automation of processes also helped in her FP&A role, she says. “When I joined, initially, I worked 10-plus hours per day, and sometimes, even over the weekend,” she says. “But when we had the system up and running, I was able to cut back on my time, normally working eight hours, and fully not working on the weekends. And now, I’m able to be a strategic partner of other departments, like sales or marketing. We weren’t able to do that while we were just so bogged down with just doing the day-to-day finance.”

It seems the CFO was impressed with the young FP&A professional’s talents. When he recently took a job at a different health care startup, he asked her to join the team. “I’ve just joined; I have to update my LinkedIn profile,” she told me.

I asked her what she expects from leadership, and it may be what her peers expect as well: “I think the main thing that I look for is that they’re open and transparent with their decision-making process for the organization as well as for the team. I’m also looking for a leader who’s going to invest in me to help me learn all the processes that are happening at the company as well as to grow my career.”


Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

Every quarter, Udemy (Nasdaq: UDMY), an education technology company, analyzes and shares trends based on what the employees of its customers are learning. As the race to understand and effectively implement generative A.I. within the workforce continues, courses published on ChatGPT saw growth of 4,419% from Q4 2022 to Q1 2023, according to the report. Nearly 470 new courses about ChatGPT were added to Udemy’s platform over the quarter, with more than 420,000 course enrollments as of March 31. The findings are based on the data of 14,000 Udemy Business customers, globally. 

Courtesy of Udemy

Going deeper

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced in a press release this morning that First Republic Bank headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., was closed today by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. In order to protect depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase agreement with JPMorgan Chase to assume all of the deposits and substantially all of the assets of First Republic, according to the announcement. JPMorgan submitted a bid for all of First Republic Bank’s deposits. Today, First Republic Bank’s 84 offices in eight states will reopen as branches of JPMorgan Chase during normal business hours.

Leaderboard

Mark Lawrence was appointed CFO at Aptive Environmental, a pest control company, effective May 1. Lawrence recently served as CFO at Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc., a beauty and wellness company. During his six years at Nu Skin, Lawrence played an integral role in the company’s transformation strategy. Before that, Lawrence served as the head of finance for Amazon’s Lab126. He also held senior leadership roles covering finance and operations at industry-leading companies such as 3Com, Brocade, Polycom, and Vivint Smart Home.

Alpana Wegner was named CFO at Secureworks (Nasdaq: SCWX), a global cybersecurity company, effective June 9. Wegner most recently served as CFO at Benefitfocus, a cloud-based benefits administration technology company, where she led the company’s finance organization as well as strategy, internal information technology, real estate, and legal. Previously, Wegner served in several leadership positions at Blackbaud, including CFO of the Enterprise Customer Business Unit and VP of sales operations. She also served as director of external reporting and compliance at Allied Waste Industries, Inc.

Overheard

“It’s not nearly as bad as it was in 2008. But trouble happens to banking just like trouble happens everywhere else. In the good times you get into bad habits…When bad times come they lose too much.”

—Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger told the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday.

This is the web version of CFO Daily, a newsletter on the trends and individuals shaping corporate finance. Sign up to get CFO Daily delivered free to your inbox.



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