“How Finance Leadership Pays Off" – Oxford Economics 2017*

How to Triumph in the Top
11% of CFOs

When Finance Leaders do their jobs well, they make a powerful impact, both within their own department and on their company overall. Yet high-performance finance leaders comprise 11.5%* of their profession. So, what do these leaders do differently? 

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Who are the finance leaders?

Finance leaders are nearly 2x as likely to grow market share year over year.

27% Banking
17% Technology
16% Consumer Products
44% Asia
35% EMEA
18% North America

40% €10 bn - 20 bn
22% 5 bn - 9.9 bn

62% large (10k+)
22% medium (5k - 10k)

Become A Finance Leader:

1. Carry Your Influence Beyond the Finance Function to Promote Revenue Growth

A finance leader’s impact doesn’t end at the finance function. They influence and guide strategic decision-making across the enterprise, often resulting in rapid
top-line growth.

bar graph pictogram

Which companies are increasing finance influence
and visibility across their organization?

83% with more than 5% revenue growth over the past year


79% with 0.1–5% growth


70% with falling or stagnant revenues

2. Drive Strategic Growth Initiatives



Finance leaders know the importance of company-wide growth, and partner with their C-suite colleagues to make it happen.


88% of finance leaders are involved in strategic decision-making outside of finance.

3. Improve Efficiency with Technology & Automation

Finance leaders are tech pioneers who go beyond the digital aids already in use, recognizing that today’s emerging technologies are tomorrow’s core tools.

73 % Finance Leaders say automation is improving finance efficiency

Quiz: True or False?


Finance leaders should act as strategic business partners.

Companies that grow the most are those that embrace technology and performance.



Finance leaders act as strategic business partners, measuring performance and embracing cutting-edge technology.

And when finance leaders excel in these areas—so do the companies they work for.


4.  Nail the Finance Basics 

Traditional finance activities are fundamental to corporate performance. Finance leaders recognize the importance of these core processes and their link to robust profitability. See how many high-growth and low-growth companies rate themselves as very effective in these core finance processes:

High-Growth Companies
(5.1-10% profit margin)


Low-Growth Companies
(0-5% profit margin)




Core Accounting and Closing



Travel and Expense Management



Working Capital Optimization

5. Collaborate with Business Units Across Your Company

When finance breaks out of its silo, corporate performance improves dramatically. And finance leaders don’t just collaborate with the areas where a finance presence is expected—they foster collaboration in other business areas where they can make a big difference. 



95% of finance leaders collaborate with operations while only 85% of all other finance professionals do so.


75% of finance leaders collaborate with marketing while only 55% of all
other finance professionals do so.


66% of finance leaders collaborate with procurement while only 60% of all other finance professionals do so.


64% of finance leaders collaborate with sales while only 38% of all
other finance professionals do so.


63% of finance leaders collaborate with design and R&D while only 47% of all other finance professionals do so.


47% of finance leaders collaborate with HR while only 38% of all
other finance professionals do so.

6. Master Government, Risk & Compliance (GRC)

Finance leaders maintain a massive stake in GRC. They view risks clearly and manage them effectively, while prioritizing
regulatory preparedness.

71% leaders stat
97% leaders stat
66% leaders stat

Finance Leaders Get Results

There's no universal formula that can guarantee a CFO’s success, but this research demonstrates a clear correlation between strong finance leadership and strong enterprise performance. If you want your organization to rise to the top, you have to be willing to move beyond the finance function—to collaborate with other business units and embrace the future of tech. Begin your journey to finance leadership by seeing how your company stacks up against the best of the best.

Benchmark yourself against Finance Leaders

Test Your Knowledge


 73% of finance leaders rate themselves as very effective

 at core accounting and closing functions.



73% of finance leaders rate themselves as very effective

 at core accounting and closing functions.


Full Report Insights


Read the complete report “How Finance Leadership Pays Off” by Oxford Economics and SAP to learn more about becoming a finance leader and driving strategic growth.



* View Sources

See Full Report

“How Finance Leadership Pays Off”, Oxford Economics and SAP 2017