Ireland-based companies are on track to perform well in the coming financial year, despite headwinds emanating from the uncertain economic backdrop, according to a survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) by accounting giant EY .
The average business growth rate predicted by Irish finance executives was 12%, with 28% of survey respondents being particularly optimistic, saying they expected double-digit growth.
“The results are a great testament to the nimble nature of Irish businesses in dealing with these challenges. There are significant issues to overcome, but it is encouraging to see that finance leaders are addressing these challenges from a position of relative strength,” said George Deegan, program chief financial officer and insurance partner. ‘EY.
The survey, which was carried out among 152 CFOs and CFOs in Ireland from organizations across a variety of sectors, shows that growth will come mainly from organic sources over the period.
People and talent were identified as a top priority by respondents, with succession planning and development planning being referenced by nearly a third of all finance leaders as one of the highest priorities over the course of of the next five years.
“Instead of a ‘big resign’, we are seeing a ‘big reassessment’ where employees are strongly reevaluating what they want from their careers, their employers and the life they want to lead,” EY said. . Derarca Dennis, insurance partner in Ireland.
“It’s one of the lasting effects of the pandemic where the shift to remote and flexible working along with some pretty fundamental changes to business models have given employees reason as well as space to reflect on career priorities and of life.”
However, the competitive business environment may be holding back investment in environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives, with only 15% citing it as a key financial priority.
Only 10% of respondents see sustainability and decarbonization opportunities as a primary growth driver for the coming year.
However, 52% of finance leaders would like to spend more time on risk management, including climate risk, while 48% want to spend more time on sustainability regulatory compliance.
Ms Dennis said that with the study being conducted at a time of intense geopolitical turmoil, it’s perhaps unsurprising that CFOs are focused on “stabilizing the ship” and near-term challenges.
“So it may be that long-term value-creating areas like ESG and sustainability have temporarily fallen off the priority list as they focus on the immediate tasks at hand,” she said.
“However, this clearly remains a cause for concern. The finance function of the future needs to play a much more strategic role and that includes influencing the ESG agenda across the organization as it will be the finance leaders who will have responsibility to report on performance and progress in this increasingly important area.