Sage, the global leader in accounting, financial, HR, and payroll technology for small and mid-sized businesses, today announces the release of its annual CFO research report, The Secrets of Successful CFOs, which reveals how technology is enabling the top-performing CFOs to navigate the changing role of finance and take on greater business leadership.

The report shows that 8 in 10 CFOs are embracing AI and automated processes to gain time to focus on more valuable tasks. This additional time enables them to develop the critical skills necessary for success in more senior executive leadership, such as being appointed CEO, however only 49% are utilizing these capabilities. The opportunity for leveraging skills as a result of incorporating tech and automation, include problem-solving (79%), leadership (78%), understanding technology and systems (78%), effective communication (77%), and confidence (77%).

“At Sage, we constantly see how combining finance with technology gives CFOs the chance to step beyond their traditional roles, offering them a chance to guide their businesses with both flexibility and deeper insight,” says Steve Hare, CEO at Sage. “As we move forward, the success of CFOs and the businesses they look after will increasingly depend on their ability to adapt, work together, and lead with clear purpose. It’s about leveraging technology to not only enhance their strategic role but also broaden their influence within the business, setting the stage for a future where CFOs play a broader role in shaping their companies’ futures.”

CFOs are establishing meaningful, cross-functional relationships

The report highlights that the role of finance has changed because of recent technological advances and increased global complexities, with 89% of CFOs stating their role is different to just a year ago. Furthermore, the CFO role continues to intersect with other departments such as IT (60%), ESG/ sustainability (58%), sales (53%), operations (54%), and marketing (52%), as well as senior stakeholders such as CEO (59%), CTO (55%), CIO (57%) and CMO (51%). This cross-functional exposure is enabling CFOs to gain valuable insights into an organization’s overall growth strategy, adding further business impact and value, while positioning them for a seamless transition into the CEO role.

Despite the challenges of expanding responsibilities and shifting economic priorities, senior finance professionals remain highly ambitious, with 1 in 2 finance leaders aiming for top leadership positions (47%).

Faith in new technologies is fuelling this ambition and optimism:

  • 96% of CFOs believe finance roles will change in their organization over the next three years.
  • 86% of CFOs think tech will have a major impact on their role in the future, with AI, machine learning and automation cited as the biggest opportunities.
  • 78% of finance leaders identified keeping up with new tech knowledge as crucial to their success over the next 3 years.
  • 79% of CFOs say AI will bolster revenue growth in their organizations.

The most successful finance leaders are focused on developing their understanding of technology, which has resulted in high adoption rates of technology within finance teams – 74% of respondents state over half of the finance processes in their organization are automated. This finance-led drive for technology has the potential to extend to company-wide initiatives. Over the next three years, 59% of CFOs expect to be implementing new technology and systems, highlighting the growing influence of the CFO over digital strategy.

“My role as CFO continues to evolve year on year; now more than ever, investing in technology has been crucial in saving me time whilst expanding the breadth of my role,” says Rob Beckman, CFO at Stark. “Sage Intacct has helped me significantly streamline manual processes and as a result, at Stark, we have been able to bring 20 acquisition companies and 17 different legacy systems together into a single source of truth for financials, operations, and customer data. Not only have we made huge efficiency gains, but we now have real-time visibility into projects to manage costs and drive decision-making. It has positioned me and my team to drive impact and growth for the company.”


Sage conducted a survey of over 1,200 finance leaders from target markets in the UK, Canada, U.S., France, Australia, Germany, South Africa and Spain to learn about their roles and the future of finance. The survey polled finance leaders across a broad range of industries including financial services, tech and SaaS, construction and real estate, professional services, hospitality, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, distribution, general business, and non-profit.

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About Sage

Sage exists to knock down barriers so everyone can thrive, starting with the millions of small and mid-sized businesses served by us, our partners and accountants. Customers trust our finance, HR and payroll software to make work and money flow. By digitizing business processes and relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, banks and governments, our digital network connects SMBs, removing friction and delivering insights. Knocking down barriers also means we use our time, technology and experience to tackle digital inequality, economic inequality and the climate crisis. Learn more at 

Notes to Editors

Other survey findings include:

  • 78% of CFOs say implementing AI in finance is not optional, but necessary to maintain a competitive edge for their organizations.
  • 77% of CFOs say investment in AI finance will help improve job satisfaction.
  • 79% of CFOs say AI has the ability to revolutionize ways of working in their organizations.
  • 64% of finance leaders spend time on talent and employee management.
  • 78% say automation of business processes has positively impacted their C-suite/board relationships.  
  • 81% say automated finance processes allow them to focus time on more valuable tasks.  
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