A recent survey of 1,400 CFOs conducted by Robert Half Management Resources finds that healthcare costs and regulatory issues are far and away the most challenging problems facing U.S. companies today. “Although many concerns of financial executives are not new issues, they are compounded by today's economic and regulatory uncertainty,” said Paul McDonald, Robert Half’s senior executive director. "[They] continue to be tested in multiple ways – managing issues for which there are no right answers or proven outcomes, while at the same time trying to motivate top performers.”
The report, CFO Concerns: What Are the Top Challenges Facing Today's Financial Executives?, determined that managing healthcare insurance expenses, controlling spending and maintaining staff morale are the major concerns of CFOs at U.S. companies employing 20 or more workers at present.
McDonald summarized the key elements of each concern:
- Regulatory issues. When asked about their chief concerns in the regulatory arena, 62% of CFOs pointed to healthcare reforms, while 7% cited the possible conversion to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and 3% mentioned the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
- Healthcare costs. Some 34% of those CFOs surveyed said their companies are responding to rising healthcare insurance costs by increasing employees' contributions to their premiums, 28% noted their companies are assuming the higher costs, and 20% said they are reducing healthcare benefits.
- Staff retention. About 29% of CFOs said subsidized training and education are the perks they offer or plan to offer in 2011 to retain employees. Flexible work hours/telecommuting and mentoring programs followed, each cited by 24% of respondents.