Here’s what happened this week:
Many finance chiefs and their teams have gaps—data gaps. Some 49% of respondents to Workday’s CFO Indicator Survey said their company’s biggest gap was the ability to execute with accurate and timely data during the COVID-19 pandemic. “A lot of companies today have siloed data,” said Barbara Larson, senior vice president of accounting, tax, and treasury at Workday. “In many cases, it’s still very much an on-premise legacy system.” As a result, a cloud-focused digital transformation has ramped up. “We’re starting to see that acceleration to the cloud for finance across all industries as companies start to embrace cloud technologies to automate and streamline not only their financial management but their planning,” Larson said. The report also found ESG and DEI emerged as top business priorities more than cybersecurity and cryptocurrency.
A tumultuous year had an impact on the most profitable companies in the world. Fortune released the 2021 Global 500 list this week, and the companies’ total revenue fell about 5% to $31.7 trillion this year. But some companies fared better than others. For the eighth consecutive year, Walmart earned the top spot with its U.S. e-commerce sales up 79% in 2020 and its Sam’s Club and international businesses booming. The retail corporation’s latest annual revenue is $559.2 billion. Berkshire Hathaway, No. 11, has the highest rank of the financial sector companies, moving up three spots from last year. There were also milestones in the representation of female CEOs on the list.
The rise of the finance freelancer is on the horizon. It’s a strategic approach for finance departments, said Eric Dutcher, CFO at MBO Partners, who began his role at the company in July. Dutcher is using independent workers to staff his team. “If you look at finance organization, about 50% of what we do on a daily basis is kind of the same stuff,” he said. “But the rest is really project work. So, why don’t we build project teams around it using independent workers?” MBO Partners is a private company with clients like Cisco, HP, and Salesforce. Its job platform connects independent contractors and freelancers with enterprise organizations. MBO Partners’ research also examines how digital nomads—location-independent, technology-enabled employees—are becoming the norm.
CFOs have been increasingly concerned about inflation. In June, a key inflation barometer closely monitored by the Federal Reserve increased 3.5% from a year earlier. The 12-month surge was the fastest since 1991, Fortune reported. And costs are also rising. “More than three-quarters of firms are passing along at least some of those cost increases onto their customers,” said Sonya Ravindranath Waddell, vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, based on a Q2 survey of CFOs released in July. What does this mean for stocks? “Stocks are more expensive than at any time since the tech craze of 2000,” my Fortune colleague Shawn Tully writes in the article, Watch out: High inflation plus very low interest rates are a deadly combination for stocks. “Today, consumer and industrial prices are rising at their fastest pace in over a decade, and rates—adjusted for inflation—have seldom hovered this deep in negative territory,” Shawn writes. He refers to this situation as “the great disconnect.”
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“Companies don’t just want to wait on the sidelines while the process of setting standards takes place around them. They would much rather be actively involved, contribute, and learn valuable lessons from the experience. The more companies we have committed to this initiative, the louder our voice in the ecosystem.”
—Brian T. Moynihan, chairman and CEO, Bank of America
Fortune’s CFO Collaborative in partnership with Workday, “The Promise and Pressure of ESG Measures,” takes place on Wednesday, August 11. The event, created just for CFOs, will feature Moynihan along with Claus Aagaard, CFO, Mars Inc.; Ann Dennison, CFO, Nasdaq; Giulia Siccardo, associate partner, McKinsey & Company; and Emma Stewart, sustainability officer, Netflix. CFOs can apply here. For more information, email CFOCollaborative@Fortune.com.
Brick-and-mortar retailers were among the hardest hit by the onset of the pandemic. But retail sales in the U.S. grew for the 11th consecutive month in July, including in-store shopping, according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse report, released on August 5. In-stores sales made up 81.9% of total retail sales (except for auto), and sales were up 15.5% year over year in July, the report found.
Courtesy of Mastercard
Here are a few Fortune reads for the weekend:
Vanguard will pay employees $1,000 to get vaccinated by Chris Morris
U.S. household debt climbs to nearly $15 trillion, the biggest jump in 14 years by Megan Leonhardt
Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman talks SPACs, meme stocks, and the new generation of investors by Emma Hinchliffe
Lumber prices are down 68% — but there’s a catch by Lance Lambert
Some notable moves from this past week:
Gary W. Ferrera was named CFO at Skillsoft Corp., a corporate digital learning company, effective September 20, 2021. Ryan Murray, interim CFO at Skillsoft, will continue in his role as chief accounting officer. Ferrera has almost 30 years of global financial leadership, including 16 years as a CFO. Most recently, he served as CFO of Cardtronics from 2017 until its recent acquisition by NCR Corporation.
Chris Finn was named CFO at Forrester, a research and advisory firm, effective September 13, 2021. Finn joins Forrester from LogMeIn, a software-as-a-service company, where he led financial planning and analysis and procurement as vice president. Prior to LogMeIn, he was the CFO of the health care division at Nuance Communications.
Edward Liu was named CFO at Zocdoc, a digital healthcare platform for in-person or virtual care, on August 2. Liu spent more than 20 years at Morgan Stanley, most recently serving as former co-head of Americas technology banking. He provided counsel to C-suite executives and board members.
Margot Moellenberg was named the first CFO at Wonolo, a staffing platform. Most recently at Four Winds Interactive, Moellenberg grew from her initial role as CFO into the company’s president and chief operating officer (COO). She also previously served as COO at Western Union Business Solutions.
John W. Mollard was named acting CFO at Lockheed Martin, effective immediately. Current CFO Kenneth R. Possenriede has decided to retire due to personal reasons, according to the company. Mollard had been serving as VP and treasurer. His career at Lockheed Martin spans almost four decades.
“Overall, I think it’s visible that with double vaccination you are able to travel around the world, even in the U.S. soon, hopefully.”
— Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr’s optimism on air travel despite the Delta variant, as reported by Fortune.
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