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The CFO 411: What Finance Pros Really Want

Businessman pointing to growth in a line graph showing business

Salaries are swelling slightly across the corporate finance ranks. But don’t assume bigger paychecks are enough to drive top job performance. Nearly half of finance pros report that so-so business skills, including leadership and strategic planning, are holding them back at work. And a separate survey by Robert Half Finance & Accounting found that 93% of employees in accounting and finance are eager to talk to their managers about their career paths and how to fill skills gaps. It’s time to ask: Could leadership training be as valuable as an annual bonus?

4 need-to-know headlines

1. Finance pros cheer pay bump, crave business skills

Here’s a stat that trumps morale-boosting team lunches: Finance professional reported a 3.6% gain in base salaries last year, a slight uptick from the year before. Employee bonuses were also on the rise, with finance execs claiming an average bonus of $60,696, according to an Association for Financial Professionals survey of nearly 3,000 finance pros. But while climbing compensation is something to celebrate, skill-set worries could be keeping your finance team up at night. Nearly half of finance professionals worry that they don’t have the leadership and people skills they need. And 42% believe that a scarcity of strategic planning skills on the finance team is impeding job performance. (via and

2. G7 ends with stern Brexit warning

A British exit from the European Union was listed alongside terrorism, refugee flows, and geopolitical conflicts as a non-economic issue that could potentially send shockwaves across the global economy. At the tail end of the two-day summit, the Group of Seven financial leaders issued a declaration that “A UK exit from the EU would reverse the trend towards greater global trade and investment, and the jobs they create, and is a further serious risk to growth.” The UK is set to have a referendum on EU membership on June 23. (via and

3. Fin-tech start-ups on pace for banner year

Venture capital investment may be drying up in other industries, but fin-tech start-ups seem awash in funding. If the pace of VC investment in the sector continues, it would mean a 36% uptick this year compared with last year’s total—and a new record high. VC deals for fin-tech start-ups are also on track to rise 13%. (via

4. European tax pressure intensifies

Taxes are an increasingly contentious topic for U.S. multinationals in Europe, as scrutiny intensifies over their tax structures. French authorities raided the Paris offices of both McDonald’s and Google, looking for evidence that the companies are using complex strategies to shrink their tax bills. Individual countries, eager to attract jobs in exchange for tax breaks, also face a financial wrist slap. The European Commission has accused the Netherlands of helping Starbucks shirk more than $30 million in taxes, and is now investigating tax deals that Amazon and Apple have reached in Luxembourg and Ireland. (via

The sound bite

“As soon as you think you have your arms around something, it changes.” —Fitbit’s CFO William Zerella, on the challenge of constantly “readjusting” to the needs of a business experiencing hypergrowth. Last year, the wearable fitness company posted revenues of $1.86 billion and grew from about 450 to 1,100 total employees. This year, Zerella, who has responsibility for HR as well as IT, investor relations, corporate development, and finance, expects to add another 1,000 employees. (via [log-in required])

The stat: 7.1%

The first-quarter decline in earnings from continuing operations by S&P 500 companies, compared with a year earlier. And that glum stat can’t be explained away entirely by energy companies suffering through weak oil prices—when analysts stripped those companies from the data set, earnings from continuing operations were still down by 1.5%. (via

4 Top Stories + 1 Key Statistic + 1 Industry Quote = The CFO 411
The CFO 411 is our weekly news roundup that brings you top headlines, data points, and sound bites to keep you in the know. Follow our updates on LinkedIn for more finance must-reads.

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