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By Anita Szarek – CFO at Pleo

Read the collective minds of UK business leaders right now and you’ll find a preoccupation with business survival. That’s because barely a day goes by without hearing of record-high inflation, the cost of living squeeze and a looming recession.

Businesses are set for a tricky tightrope walk, where making money and chasing down profit is key, all while cutting costs and making their money work harder for them.

The spotlight is therefore set to shine even brighter on the role of the CFO – that figurehead of financial strategy and insight. Yet the worry for most businesses is that their CFO, instead of being ready to refine the company’s financial strategy during this time, might be tied up with the time-intensive nitty gritty of payroll, expense management and other financial processes long overdue a refresh.

To ensure they are in a good place to weather the coming economic storm, businesses need to acknowledge that now is the time for CFOs to step up and advise on business strategy, and that adopting the proper technology to make this shift a reality – namely, fintech – is a must.

How fintech can free up your CFO to become a strategic business partner

As with most digital technologies, fintech is designed to make life easier when it comes to finances. Without a fintech solution, a company’s outgoing and incoming finances are prone to data silos and inaccurate data, with some businesses still (deep breath) using paper-based processes.

Fintech brings accuracy and accessibility into proceedings and for any CFO, it’s a huge asset to have. With an extensive range of processes to manage, CFOs can employ technology to automate the day-to-day, but still get the insights they need for accurate financial reporting.

This means less time sifting through receipts and more time co-piloting the business. An especially important transition given that, according to’s latest survey 37% of businesses say they are “experiencing accelerated growth” while 29% say they are “building business resiliency”. Two business states where your CFO is most definitely needed.

Freeing up your CFO’s time isn’t just about creating workplace efficiencies. It’s about enabling them to become a strategic partner to your CEO. As CEOWorld writes, “A CEO choosing their CFO is like a Presidential candidate searching for their VP.”

Theirs should be a close relationship where ambitions are balanced with financial reality and growth and resilience are fuelled by strategy. It is therefore imperative to employ a fintech solution to make this balance possible.

Better data and spending insights

The assumption businesses have is that by freeing up their CFO to focus on strategy, their financial operations will be left unmanned.

Yet by choosing the right fintech solution, these processes not only grow more automated, but they work with the employees they concern, giving more autonomy and far more visibility around money in the workplace.

What’s more, the right fintech solution will still provide the CFO with the insights and financial data they need to operate in their role as a strategy maker. We’ve not arrived in the age of robots just yet, but think of a fintech solution as a CFO’s ideal assistant.

Seeing the big picture of where your money’s going – whether on business travel, subscriptions, client meals or salary – can give CFOs a detailed look into your company’s financial health, and how it might need to change to turn the CEO’s ambitions into reality. It can help them analyse things better and even foresee problems – and all without keeping them behind a calculator.

Additionally, as we’ll come to explore – by leaning into the responsibility of the CFO, a business can successfully change its collective mindset around money.

Changing the culture around money in the workplace

Too often, any admin an employee has to do around the business’s money can feel like a necessary evil. Expenses for instance can be a laborious process of being out of pocket, hunting for receipts, logging expense requests, and then waiting to be reimbursed.

Our own research shows that on average, UK employees are £4000 out of pocket every year and waiting up to 25 days between paying for an item and being reimbursed for it. This is a problem that’s set to get worse, as employees need to keep hold of their money for their own rising personal expenses, while businesses need to ensure their own reporting isn’t offset by money in limbo between their account and their workforce’s.

But with the time and the ability to focus on this, a CFO can get a culture change underway in your workplace where instead of migraines, your company’s financial policies are invested with visibility, trust and autonomy.

Fintech solutions might be seen as a cost, but really they’re a cost saver. That’s because a liberated CFO and a fintech solution is the dream partnership for your business. Yet as many as 22% of companies say their organization’s approach to adopting technology solutions is lagging.

At a time when a CFO’s financial insights are critical, businesses can’t afford to sleep on the value of their input. Because if they do, they’ll not only be shortchanging their CFO, but themselves too.

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