CFOs of large companies upbeat despite headwinds, says Horváth

24 July 2023 3 min. read
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Despite challenging conditions, a clear majority of CFOs of large companies expect positive business development in 2023. They also believe, however, that they may be falling behind on sustainability.

In a survey from management consultancy firm Horváth, 79% of the interviewed managers are optimistic about their financial performance in the short term. Liquidity is also rated positively by 84%. The perspective on investments in new business is somewhat more subdued, with only 52% optimistic.

For this edition of its CFO Study, a total of 80 CFOs were surveyed across industries and countries, from companies with a majority of over 1,000 employees and €250 million in annual sales.

CFOs of large companies upbeat despite headwinds, says Horváth

Asked about their perspective on the finance department, 95% had a positive assessment of general department targets and 92% were optimistic about their own CFO targets.

There are also clear signs that pressure on finance departments is building up and risks are continuing to increase. It is slowly dawning on those in charge that organic growth and long-term value creation – the top strategic goals of companies – are increasingly dependent on good performance in the area of sustainability.

Around to-thirds of CFOs say their department is suffering from staffing problems. Just as many believe that employees face high workloads and abundant stress. 59% are also pessimistic about being able to solve capacity problems in their department in the coming months. 83% expect the problem to worsen overall and foresee negative consequences for the companies.

CFOs of large companies upbeat despite headwinds, says Horváth


The report notes that a quarter of CFOs already do not (or no longer) believe that they can realistically achieve their companies’ sustainability goals. Only ten percent are confident that they will succeed. Likewise, a quarter of respondents see themselves as simply unable to integrate sustainability into corporate management at all.

Sustainable business was cited as the most significant challenge for 2023 and beyond by 88% of respondents, while skills shortages and cyber risks were both cited by 83%.

CFOs of large companies upbeat despite headwinds, says Horváth

“Solutions and models for integrating sustainable goals into corporate management can, if set up correctly, reduce the workload,” says Achim Wenning, partner at Horváth, an international consultancy with 1.000+ staff worldwide.

“In any case, no finance organisation will be able to avoid this company-relevant and company-wide task in itself, so CFOs should face this challenge sooner rather than later, most efficiently with professional support.”

Sustainability, as an essential part of any organisation’s ESG strategy, is increasingly being seen as a must in order to not only meet compliance necessities, but also for the benefits that it can bring.