Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn. March 29, 2023

Gartner Says Lack of Digital Skills Among CFOs Key Obstacle to Autonomous Finance

Experts Predict Widening Gap Between Finance Staff and Management’s Digital Competency Levels Will Drive Turnover, Disrupt Progress

A lack of digital skills in senior finance leaders will drive half of unwanted staff turnover by 2026, according to Gartner, Inc. CFOs will need to accelerate their digital knowledge and better engage with digital-savvy staff to mitigate turnover and disruption.

“CFOs are preparing their teams for a time when finance will operate autonomously, driven by technologies such as AI, yet not many finance leaders are learning digital skills themselves,” said Marco Steecker, research director in Gartner’s Finance practice. “An already-wide digital skills gap between management and their reports will increase in coming years if unaddressed, and digital-laggard CFOs will increasingly struggle to manage staff who are delivering their digital initiatives.”

Gartner’s analysis of talent’s role in delivering an autonomous finance function is driven in part by the changing nature of finance staff. Gartner experts predict that by 2026, AI and automation will result in 50% of all new employees hired by top-performing corporate finance functions having backgrounds other than finance or accounting. Digitally savvy associates rate people management as one of the most critical factors in choosing where they work.

Even in today’s finance function, 18% of finance staff demonstrate digital competency, compared with just 11% of their managers. As demand grows for tech skills, and traditional accounting backgrounds wane, this knowledge gap will also grow unless senior management, including CFOs, step up their digital education efforts.

“Our research shows that CFOs who directly champion AI and other digital efforts significantly impact the success of those programs compared to those who take a passive role,” said Steecker. “CFOs who develop greater digital literacy will be able to engage with their most vital talent and mitigate unwanted attrition that could derail their transformation efforts.”

Steecker recommends CFOs prepare themselves and their senior finance managers for increasing demands of digital literacy through the following steps:

  1. Revisit and update finance manager competency frameworks to prioritize digital competencies.
  2. Establish and participate in wider organizational digital upskilling efforts, along with upskilling designed specifically for the finance function.
  3. Pursue reverse-mentoring opportunities with digitally literate staff.

“The most successful digital upskilling programs we see are the ones where the CFO is personally visible and involved in the coursework,” said Steecker. “This goes beyond just a powerful signalling effect and provides leaders with the fluency to speak the language of their key talent.”

Gartner clients can learn more in Predicts 2023: A Talent Overhaul Is Necessary to Unlock Autonomous Finance. CFOs and finance leaders can participate in Gartner research and get complementary access by joining the Gartner Research Circle.

About the CFO & Finance Executive Conference 2023

Gartner experts will provide additional insights on how CFOs can address slowing growth, persistent high inflation, scarce expensive talent and global supply constraints during the Gartner CFO & Finance Executive Conferences 2023, taking place May 31-June 1, in National Harbor, MD, and September 18-19 in London. Follow news and updates from the conferences on Twitter using the hashtag #GartnerFinance.

About the Gartner Finance Practice

The Gartner Finance practice helps senior finance executives meet their top priorities. Gartner offers a unique breadth and depth of content to support clients’ individual success and deliver on key initiatives that cut across finance functions to drive business impact. Learn more at Follow Gartner for Finance on LinkedIn and Twitter using #GartnerFinance to stay ahead of the latest expert insights and key trends shaping the Finance function. Visit the Gartner Finance Newsroom for more information and insights.

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