Adopting digital technology will be top public sector priority, say finance chiefs

Digital technology will be the biggest priority for public sector chief financial officers (CFOs) over the next five years, according to new research released by EY.

Based on a survey of 19 public sector chief finance officers (CFOs) in the UK, EY’s report revealed that 58% of CFOs ranked improving performance through the use of digital technology as their most important strategic priority for their organisation. A distant second was driving cost efficiencies through automation and outsourcing which was cited by 26% of CFOs.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 58% of public sector chief finance officers believe digital transformation will be a strategic priority over next five years
  • 68% of finance leaders spending more time on providing analysis and insight to leadership than five years ago
  • 63% of finance chiefs spending more time on strategy than day-to-day financial management
  • Three quarters of CFOs feel that organisations are facing a growing challenge of finding finance leaders
  • 95% of CFOs keen to see collaboration or partnering across organisations

Darra Singh, head of UK government and public sector at EY, commented: “Public sector CFOs are adapting to a changing role where they are taking on more responsibility and are becoming an indispensable part of leadership within local authorities, councils and Whitehall.

“The pressures to deliver more with less in the public sector has thrust the role into the spotlight and they are responding to this challenge in different ways. This includes the use of technology such as blockchain and sophisticated data analytics. We are seeing quite different profiles and responsibilities emerge when compared to the traditional idea of a public sector CFO.”


Partnering across organisations will be ‘critical’

Darra concluded: “Collaborative working within and between government organisations has the potential to not only save costs, but also spread knowledge and skills.

“We’ve gone beyond the isolated back office view of the finance profession. Today’s CFOs are in a unique position to bring together a strategic view of the finances, performance and meeting future needs of their organisations. It is an exciting and challenging time to be a CFO the public sector.”

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