Singapore’s CFOs Most Primed Globally To Lead ESG Initiatives

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 17 August 2022

New global research from Anaplan and Deloitte reveals finance leaders can be driving forces for ESG, digital and collaboration success.

Anaplan, Inc., provider of a leading cloud-native platform for orchestrating business performance, today announced in partnership with Deloitte a new research which explores the perceptions colleagues have of their Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), how those perceptions differ from how CFOs view themselves, and the opportunities CFOs have to drive organizational change amid market volatility.

Singapore CFOs poised to drive ESG success

Titled Architects of Business Change: Awakening the Potential of the Modern CFO, the research revealed that Singapore CFOs are the most ready to take the reins of their organizations’ sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. A myriad of factors, such as Singapore’s robust policy and regulatory support for incorporating ESG deliverables, can be attributed to these progressive results.

Majority (80%) of Singapore CFOs polled look to spearhead setting the strategies, planning and measurement of their company’s sustainability and ESG efforts, with an even greater percentage (94%) considering themselves effective at such initiatives – way ahead of the global average (78%). This clearly illustrates real opportunities for CFOs to expand their role in managing their organization’s ESG initiatives and to further embrace it as a core priority. 

At a global level, the majority (78%) of CFOs consider themselves less effective at addressing ESG initiatives and have ranked such undertakings lower on their priorities. However, these sentiments are not shared by their senior colleagues who look to the CFO as a key organizational leader for driving ESG strategies (85%).

Singapore CFOs recognise the need for collaboration and not gatekeeping

Today’s shifting business environments require business leaders to be confident in quickly adjusting strategies and thriving in ever changing realities. However strategic planning and decision-making are still typically siloed and highly manual processes for many organizations, overseen mostly by CFOs who are perceived as risk-averse gatekeepers and number crunchers.

It is therefore unsurprising that a majority of global CFOs (82%) and senior colleagues (86%) polled agree that recent disruptions – such as the transition to hybrid work and prolonged supply chain volatility – could have been better managed with stronger communication between organizational departments and divisions.

However, the ongoing market uncertainty has also accentuated a new breed of collaboration-focused CFOs who are now critical to driving their companies’ digital transformation and growth. Such momentum is well evident in Singapore, where at least half (43%) believe that Singapore CFOs are actively investing more time in cross-department collaboration – ahead of the global average of 28%.

Worldwide, business leaders must revamp their approach to planning to be more collaborative, agile, and real-time, but CFOs and senior colleagues both realize this requires an improvement in people dynamics (86% vs 82%), technology (86% vs 86%) and processes (86% vs 81%). Striking a balance between these three considerations will be essential to handling market uncertainty and democratizing planning to effectively deliver business objectives – and today’s CFOs must take the lead.

“The Singapore results of our study with Deloitte shows that the role of the Singapore CFO has evolved into a driving force for ESG, collaboration and democratized success in spite of the market volatility, “ said Bhavik Vashi, Area Vice President – Asia, Anaplan“For tomorrow’s CFOs to fully realize their new roles as architects of business change, a more democratized approach to decision making is needed where CFOs are able to gather critical insights from every corner of the organization.”

Going forward, be it in the delivery of ESG initiatives or democratized planning, success will largely depend on whether CFOs are able to evolve with the times. Overall, the ongoing global disruption has helped businesses understand the importance of the CFO, and those that can positively pivot and embrace their role and responsibilities will have the best chance of achieving this.

Developed by market research firm Harris Insights and Analytics, this research included more than 700 CFOs and senior departmental leaders across Singapore, the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany and Japan. ​​To read the report in detail, please visit: LINK.