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AAFCPAs’ 2021 CFO Survey Finds Data Management Is Catalyst for Change

AAFCPAs CFO Survey Report: Insight from CFOs on Data UseCFOs seek better inputs, predictability, and the talent to translate data

Boston, MA (August 10, 2021) – AAFCPAs, a best-in-class CPA and consulting firm known for assurance, tax, accounting, wealth management, valuation, business process, and IT advisory solutions, today released its 2021 CFO Survey Report. The survey found that across the board, CFOs are prioritizing better data gathering, interpretation, and visualization in order to improve decision-making after a historically unpredictable year.

Among the survey’s key findings were:

  • CFOs believe that a focus on the future is more important today than it was four years ago.
  • Collecting predictive and prescriptive analytics is a pain point for CFOs. These types of data enable a shift from a historical perspective to a forward-looking perspective.
  • Limitations in staffing and systems topped the list of major challenges in turning insight into actionable business value.
  • 49% of respondents (up from 33% in 2017) said that human resources limitations/team bandwidth is the primary obstacle to meeting CEO expectations.

“CFOs told us through this survey that the way they perceive and use data is at a new evolutionary stage,” said James Jumes, Partner and head of Business Process and IT Consulting at AAFCPAs. “The pandemic accelerated the need for different types of forecasting data –but it also accelerated the development of tools that can help interpret it. CFOs have an excellent opportunity to create a competitive advantage by playing a pivotal role in this transformation.”

The AAFCPAs’ 2021 CFO Survey was conducted in collaboration with FEI Boston (Financial Executives International Boston Chapter). The survey captured feedback from more than 200 senior financial executives from the Northeast region of the United States, with 80% of respondents representing middle market companies in New England, from public and private sector commercial business, nonprofit, and government.

The report is available for download at 

About the Authors

James Jumes
James joined AAFCPAs in 2013 to lead the Business Consulting Services practice. He has more than 25 years of experience working with information technology systems and diverse business operational processes. James is highly experienced in IT controls and assurance, SOX 404, and Service Organization Control (SOC) reports: SOC 1 (SSAE 18), SOC 2, SOC 2+ and 3 attestation reporting.  James developed a unique methodology to delivering SOC reporting services, and he is an AICPA-approved Peer Review SOC Specialist, assisting peer review teams to review SOC 1, 2, 2+ and 3 engagements. He is a HITRUST Certified Common Security Framework (CSF) Practitioner, providing HITRUST CSF self-assessment consulting, or SOC 2 + HITRUST for assessing against the evolving compliance landscape shaped by HITECH, HIPAA, CMS and various other federal, state and business requirements.
Vassilis Kontoglis
Vassilis is a highly-skilled IT professional with proven expertise in: business process improvement and change management, information systems gap analyses, cyber security and IT risk assessments, systems selection & implementation, IT auditing, and special attestation reporting (SSAE 18 and SOC 2). Vassilis performs comprehensive and thorough reviews of technology systems and environments, and advises clients on how to use technology to best achieve business goals and objectives.  He elicits input from stakeholders at all levels of the organizational hierarchy in order to thoroughly evaluate business performance across functional boundaries.  He analyzes current and potential business and IT processes to identify clear opportunities for improvement, which may include streamlining and automation, productivity increases, strategic alignment and cost reductions.
R. Ben Davis
Ben is a member of AAFCPAs’ integrated Business Process & IT Consulting Practice, responsible for providing business intelligence, data visualization, and productivity solutions. Ben joined AAFCPAs in 2016 in the firm’s Assurance division. He has extensive knowledge of assurance-based and operational accounting, which provided wide-ranging exposure and a solid foundation in best practices for business process improvement, with a focus on efficiency, effectiveness, and internal control. He works with AAFCPAs clients to streamline and automate processes, and as appropriate, introduces automation solutions such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology and procedures to eliminate time-consuming, highly manual processes.