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The CFO 411: Picking the Path Ahead

Country road with sun peeking through storm clouds on horizon

While economists are busy debating whether or not a global downturn is indeed advancing, financial pros are proactively preparing their businesses to weather whatever lies on the horizon. Capital expenditure is coming under scrutiny, as many leaders debate the prudence of planned spending. Still others turned to layoffs and reorgs in an effort to streamline remaining staff. With financial leaders taking an increasingly strategic role in the C-suite, it’s little surprise that recruitment searches for vacant CFO positions are taking longer to fill.

4 need-to-know headlines 

1. CFOs pull back on spending plans

Financial leaders across all sectors seem to be reining in capital spending, following the stock market’s slide and mounting fears that a recession—or at least downturn—may be unavoidable. The greatest capex belt-tightening seems to be happening in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, as a strong dollar and slowing growth in developing markets dampen international demand. (via

2. Bank anxiety spreads to debt instruments

Bad news for financial companies that might be looking to raise capital anytime soon: A sell-off in European bank shares extended this week to the banks’ bonds as well, as investors sour on the risky debt. The move signals creeping anxiety in the banking sector—and might make it tougher for other companies looking to raise capital. (via the Economist)

3. Empty CFO seats sit vacant longer than ever

A shrinking supply of experienced CFOs and a spate of early retirements have increased the number of open CFO positions. Yet executive searches are now taking longer than they have in the past, as both candidates and companies take their time gauging fit. Another factor that could be dragging out the CFO search: More businesses expect financial leaders to have operational expertise and a firm handle on new technologies. (via

4. Small biz optimism hits new low

A new survey confirms what finance leaders at smaller companies may have already sensed: The outlook looks less than sunny. In fact, the Small Business Optimism Index hasn’t been this low since February 2014. And it wasn’t the Fed’s interest rate raise or stock market turbulence that sent the index tumbling, says the report’s chief economist. “The decline in optimism was accounted for by two important index components: expected business conditions in the next six months and expected real sales.” (via

The stat: 1,500

That’s the number of layoffs Yahoo Inc. announced Wednesday, in what the company said will be the first of several rounds of job cuts. The troubled tech giant isn’t the only company looking to end 2016 with a smaller staff, though. Half a dozen large companies—including medical-products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and tobacco maker Altria Group Inc.—have announced roughly 14,000 planned layoffs in recent weeks. (via Reuters)

Sound bite of the week

“The most successful CFOs have systems that can tap into any data source but filter for the right data, generate clean data from many sources, deliver it in a visualization that is easy to consume, distribute it to anyone on any device, and do it in real time.” —Domo CFO Bruce Felt, responding to an IMA and ACCA survey that showed quality data is one of the main hurdles facing finance teams that want to partner with other business units (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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