6 min read

The modern CFO needs more time to manage

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CFOs: what’s your biggest challenge right now? If your immediate thought was ‘getting good people’, you’re certainly not alone. 

In fact, in a recent survey, CFOs identified hiring and retaining staff as the most difficult task they expect to face over the next 12 months. Information services provider Gartner polled 234 CFOs in July 2022, asking them to name the biggest short-term challenges they expect to face.

Hiring and retaining staff was the clear forerunner, with 54% of respondents placing it in their top 3. Sundaram’s Advisory Panel Chair, Harish Rao, said the data backs up what he’s hearing from businesses, particularly CFOs in Australia. 

“Professionals in the accounting and finance industry are increasingly looking for new ways to deal with the skills shortage in Australia. Some businesses have had job advertisements in market for weeks, with barely a ripple of interest,” he said.

Harish said CFOs have a range of strategies at their disposal. The leading solution is to engage an outsourced accounting service to take on the transactional accounting that is core to business operations but difficult to recruit for.

Accounting outsourcing is the solution

It’s not just the UK (where the survey was administered) that’s facing the consequences of a tight labour market. Sundaram Business Services clients in Australia and New Zealand are also feeling the pressure.

The difficulty in hiring and retaining staff is often cited as a driver to taking on board an outsourced team of qualified, experienced and well-managed professionals - it’s what Sundaram Business Services take pride in doing. Our offshore employees become an extension of your team - which can be scaled up with demand.

That ability to scale up - to start with a core team who know your business inside and out, and who can quickly bring up to speed additional team members - will be of great comfort to the 21% of surveyed CFOs who nominated one of their top 3 challenges as ‘Planning staff levels across the country’, which came in 5th overall.

Outsourcing accounts: scope for CFO support

Broad-based surveys show that the business and finance sector is consistently challenged by the increasingly competitive market for quality staff members, in which:

  • skilled employees are more difficult to come by (as canvassed above) and
  • team members demand more job satisfaction in their day-to-day working lives. 

Accounting outsourcing for CFO support eases the pressure in both these areas.

Of those who have already engaged an off-shore team for their finance and accounting divisions:

  • 90% outsource procure-to-pay
  • 63% outsource order-to-cash 
  • 53% outsource record-to-report. (Source)

The benefits are many, said Sundaram’s Harish Rao.

“The short-term goal is to get the job done and done well. But the ultimately core benefit - especially to the CFO - is to improve the company’s strategic focus,” he said.

“Engaging an outsourcing accounting partner to manage operational functions frees up the CFO to focus on the big picture, develop relationships with clients, re-commit to the business strategy and drive growth.”

CFO support: essential to the changing role

Traditionally, an organisation’s CFO is seen as a corporate accountant - supervising the practical tasks of books and records, financial reporting, statutory compliance and so on. The role has changed drastically. These tasks are still included, of course. 

The CFO role now also encompasses data analysis, financial planning, ongoing assessment of the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses, and formulating and driving strategic direction.

Experienced CFO Bill Tobia supports this observation.

“Today’s CFOs must break away from the number-cruncher stereotype and think of themselves as more of a strategic player in the company,” Bill said.

“CFOs today need to be creative, understand best practices, and know how to create more value for the company. There will always be a need for someone to balance the books, crunch the numbers, and perform critical routine tasks but the CFO role is much more dynamic today.”

How Sundaram supports CFOs

Sundaram’s CFO Support Solutions enables finance leaders to focus on improving business performance and shareholder value.

With a team of 400+ professionals, our extended office solution takes on transactional accounting operations: driving business transformation that is custom-designed to suit the changing needs of your business.

We combine business process management, industry analysis and state-of-the-art systems - seamlessly integrating with the system you already work with - to solve staffing problems for businesses across a range of industries and locations, whatever their size. 

To finance leaders, data leads growth

Returning to the Gartner survey, it’s interesting to note that some of the top challenges identified by CFOs rely on the rigorous collection of relevant data, as well as expert analysis that leads to evidence-based decision-making. In this category, we’d include:

  • ‘Forecasting’ (36%)
  • ‘Achieving outcomes on digital investments’ (18%)
  • ‘Inventory management’ (16%)
  • ‘Cash and liquidity planning’ (11%) and even
  • ‘Assessing mergers and acquisitions opportunities’ (4%).

How will CFOs have time for the depth of understanding to develop insights that data analysis can afford? By outsourcing the repetitive, operational tasks that take up much of their teams’ time.

CFO support that delivers results

Sundaram has runs on the board when it comes to CFO support (in the form of accounting outsourcing) delivering operational efficiencies and lower costs.

When a leading 5-star hotel in Sydney - with 500+ rooms in 100+ hotels around the world - approached Sundaram to streamline its transactional accounting processes, we embarked on a research and discovery exercise that identified how we could ease the pain points. Our overall goal was to help our client to lower costs and improve the timeliness of its reporting.

We set up an extended office model to handle accounting work such as payables, credit control, income audits and month-end activities. The results created not only efficiencies (keep reading!) but also the freedom for the CFO to stop putting out fires and refocus on the big picture.

  • We instituted process improvements that halved turnaround times for reporting, from 5 to 2 days. 
  • We implemented Lean Six Sigma tools that created process efficiency gains of up to 25%.

For more detail, visit our case study

Ready to open up a world of freedom for your CFO, and the permanent satisfaction that comes with reducing costs by 40-50% through outsourcing? Contact Sundaram Business Services to learn more about our Engagement Model.  


Sundaram Business Services is a business process outsourcing company with offices in Australia, India and the UK. With over 20 years’ experience in the Australian market in providing outsourced teams to Australian businesses across Accountancy, Portfolio Management, Self-Managed Super Funds, and Mortgage Broker support, our business becomes an extension of yours. 

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