How Finance Leaders Thrive with Risk Today

Todd Ford
Todd Ford
Chief Financial Officer, Coupa Software

Todd Ford has served as Chief Financial Officer at Coupa Software since 2015, holds a BS in Accounting from Santa Clara University, and resides in Silicon Valley, California.

Read time: 6 mins
Businessman Walking Up Stairs

Are you feeling nostalgic for the days when your worst nightmare was failing to close the books on time? Today, as finance leaders in a volatile world filled with unprecedented risks – Trade wars, Brexit, political and currency concerns, cyber threats, and failing to keep up with digital transformation – we have bigger problems keeping us up at night.

Like it or not, our roles as finance leaders have dramatically and permanently changed. And with the reality of our much-expanded roles (often without much-expanded resources) many are struggling to adapt.

Nowhere is this as acutely noticeable as the management struggle over our expanded risk purview. We’ve always been tasked with managing backwards-looking audit, reporting, compliance, and budget risk, but now we must also be on top of operational risks to our business and forward-looking risks such as macro-environment, industry dynamics, and capital risk. CFOs and finance leaders who do not focus on tackling these risks are putting their organizations and shareholders in harm's way.

At Coupa, we frequently discuss the evolving role of finance leaders and challenges that we can help them overcome. Our hypothesis, based on what we’ve seen from practically every CFO we’ve spoken with, is that finance leaders are not equipped to succeed in the face of the rapid evolution of our role. We turned to Wall Street Journal Custom Content and Dow Jones intelligence to conduct a survey of 500 finance executives to confirm our suspicions and identify ways leaders are thriving in this rapidly-changing world.

It turns out we were right. Just 1 percent of respondents say their role has not changed in the last two years. Sixty percent of respondents said their roles have evolved to include more extensive participation in strategic business decisions and nearly 60 percent said their role has changed to include more diverse types of business and operations risk management.

Despite our rapidly expanding roles, 70 percent of us are hamstrung by tactical responsibilities, and spend most of our time on functional tasks such as developing budgets, managing financial reporting, audit, and compliance. Only half of the finance executives reported that they spend the right amount of time managing any given area of risk, and only 4 percent say they spend the right amount of time managing every area of risk.

I invite you to join us on September 5 for a live webinar featuring report author Rosa Harris, Partner, Media Analytics Group and Levvel lead analyst Major Bottoms Jr., to discuss the survey findings and provide actionable tips for finance leaders seeking to better manage risk in their organizations. We will share:

  • Insights from the study’s findings for the strategic finance leader
  • Stories from the CFOs of Amazon, Netflix, Levi Strauss, and National Grid US
  • Strategies for managing exponentially growing risks without exponentially growing headcount
  • A new risk scorecard for assessing your organization’s readiness across various aspects of risk

This webinar will help finance professionals at all stages of their careers, from AP specialists to CFOs, take actionable steps to prepare themselves and their organizations to not only survive, but thrive with risk. I look forward to helping you thrive too.