CFO operational concerns

Top three operational concerns for CFOs in 2020

As the new decade gets underway, research shows resistance to change, succession challenges and cyberthreats are among the top concerns.

As the new decade gets underway, research shows that Chief Financial Officers view certain operational risks as some of their top concerns. Following are the top three ways for CFOs to address them.

Resistance to change

Today’s business environment is overwhelmed with changes, particularly in technology and innovation. In order to prosper, organizations must adapt to improve overall business processes. While change is not the concern, resistance to change is. The following aspects are key for CFOs helping to overcome resistance to change:

  • Communication: Communicate quickly, clearly and frequently throughout the entire process – as changes are identified, implementation plans get underway, milestones are achieved and so on. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Transparency: Transparency can build trust with employees. Prioritize providing and making information available on an ongoing basis. This includes sharing what problem the change will fix, how the implementation process is progressing, where you encounter bumps along the way and how your employees can contribute to the process.
  • Authenticity and enthusiasm: Employees will be much more likely to get on-board with a change when leaders show they are genuinely committed, confident and excited for the outcome of a change.

Succession challenges

As the number of Baby Boomers heading for retirement continues to swell, organizations will increasingly face the need to transition positions at all levels to the next generation. This transition comes with several challenges: from transferring years of experience and tribal knowledge to retaining the next generation while they “wait their turn” to the implications on an organization’s strategic plan. To successfully manage the transition, CFOs can help their organizations:

  • Prepare for the transition: A strong “bench” is not developed overnight; it takes years to hire the right people, train them, and transfer relationships and knowledge.
  • Exit well: Baby Boomers can continue to provide great value and should not be rushed out the door. Consider what the best role is for them in the organization’s future. It likely needs to be different than it has been in the past.
  • Stick the landing: Set up the next generation for success by clearly defining their new roles and providing the training and latitude for them to do their job well. This will require the outgoing generation to adapt and commit to their new role as well.


Cyberthreats are not only “an IT issue,” but a risk to the organization’s reputation, proprietary information and even its ongoing operation. Providing input and raising questions such as the following is one place CFOs can play a role in helping create and preserve value by managing this operational risk:

  • What information do we manage?
  • What are our key business assets?
  • What connections do our people and systems have?
  • Are we identifying and addressing our risks?
  • What is our ability to mitigate risks?
  • How are we managing third parties?
  • What capacities should we retain internally vs. work with external resources?
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AGH is proud to sponsor the CFO of the Year Awards honoring these leaders who are helping their organizations address such operational risks as they prepare to succeed in this new decade. Congratulations to each honoree.

If you’d like additional information on any of these topics, contact the appropriate AGH professional below.

Zac Spear

Vice President
Assurance Services
Manufacturing Industry Team Leader

Zac Spear has more than 10 years of public accounting experience. He leads the firm’s manufacturing industry team. Zac also manages the firm’s employee benefit plan audit practice; he has earned certification in employee benefit plan auditing from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

Zac is a certified public accountant and a member of both the AICPA and the Kansas Society of CPAs (KSCPA). He was honored as one of the KSCPA’s “20 up to 40” young leaders program. Zac earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Kansas and a master’s of business administration from Baker University.

Daniel White

Vice President
Org. Development & Family Business Services

Daniel White assists organizations with their organizational development needs, including strategic and operational planning, leadership development, succession and exit planning, and family business advising. He has worked with a wide range of industries, including construction, healthcare, manufacturing, banking, not-for-profits, and government organizations. He has also worked internationally as an organizational development consultant, serving organizations in Bolivia, Guatemala and Ghana. Prior to advising organizations, he worked in not-for-profit leadership and operations, directing projects with clients such as the US Department of State and the United Nations Population Fund.

Daniel serves as associate director of the Kansas Family Business Forum, hosted by Wichita State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. He holds a certificate in Family Business Advising from The Family Firm Institute. Daniel also earned his Certified Exit Planner designation from BEI. This designation demonstrates he is qualified to provide comprehensive, professionally executed exit planning services. He has been published in Fast Company and several academic journals, and he has presented at a number of national conferences.

Brian Johnson

Senior Vice President
Technology Services

Brian joined AGH in 1992. He leads the firm’s technology services practice where he helps clients achieve measurable performance improvements through the delivery of specialized, competency-based information systems management, assurance, and advisory services. He has extensive experience in information security, network engineering, and solution development, with recognized specializations in governance, risk, control, and related consulting services.

Brian is a member of ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants (KSCPA), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the AICPA’s Information Management and Technology Assurance (IMTA) Section, and the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM). He is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE), and Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM).

Brian is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a graduate of Wichita State University, where he earned Master of Accountancy and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.

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