Senior Research Director Shawn Fitzgerald talks with Global GBS and Finance Advisory Practice Leader Jim O’Connor and Finance, EPM, and BI Advisory Practice Leader Gilles Bonelli about the many areas where corporate finance leaders can help their companies address inflationary pressures.
Welcome to the Hackett Group’s Business Excelleration Podcast, where – week after week – we hear from experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours, and celebrate milestones on the journey to world-class performance. Today’s episode is hosted by The Hackett Group’s Senior Research Director Shawn Fitzgerald, and it focuses on the company’s recently-released finance guide and playbook for managing and mitigating inflation. Kicking off his role in moderating the conversation, Shawn introduces the two guests for the episode: Jim O’Connor, Global GBS and Finance Advisory Leader, and Gilles Bonelli, who leads Hackett’s finance, enterprise performance management, and business intelligence advisory practice in Europe.
Moving into the central topic of navigating inflation, Shawn asks Jim and Gilles how concerned finance leaders should be about understanding, managing, and mitigating inflation – especially in light of recent increases in inflation levels. Inflation is absolutely a big deal for companies (and their employees!), Jim says, and it impacts different companies and industries in different ways. Companies need to take a careful look at the issue of inflation, and Gilles adds that the CFO – whose role has expanded to include a broader mandate – must consider the roles of financing, business partnering, and the need for the financing sector to have a coaching role in the business.
Jim and Gilles are well positioned in their respective roles in North America and Europe to comment on regional differences in the types of actions finance leaders should take. The two acknowledge that there are differences in how inflation impacts different regions, but also emphasize that there are common questions leaders need to be asking. These questions, which concern company breaking point, inventory, exposure to interest rates, and more, indicate that there are common levers for all finance leaders to use as they face realities of inflation. Further, Hackett’s finance playbook highlights six common areas in which finance leaders have to provide guidance as their companies, including revenue, intelligent cost management, procurement, talent retention and turnover, wages and compensation, and hedging and financial management. Part of the way finance can do this is by educating and supporting leaders throughout the business.
Diving into the topic of business partnering, the group first considers the importance of “eliminating the vague.” Getting into more detail, they think through concrete ways in which finance can partner with other sectors of a business by offering guidance in the six ways included in the Finance Playbook. Finance should work on developing and implementing cost mitigation strategies, forecast breaking points, and revisit practices around talent acquisition, procurement, and product design. As the episode wraps up, Shawn asks for the three top things for a finance leader to do now to get a better handle on inflation. Jim advises focusing on cost, revenue, and retention. Gilles takes a slightly different angle, explaining how finance can impact the interrelated themes that have come up throughout the episode by driving coordination and re-evaluation of targets enterprise-wide.
- 1:01 – Welcome to this episode with Shawn, Jim, and Gilles.
- 1:35 – How concerned should finance leaders be about dealing with inflation?
- 5:33 – Are there regional differences in the actions finance leaders should take?
- 10:01 – There are six specific areas in which finance leaders should be taking action.
- 15:09 – There is a common stream to address all these areas.
- 16:39 – Gilles offers thoughts on business partnering.
- 21:10 – Shawn wonders what the top three things are for finance leaders to do now.
- 23:43 – Gilles offers concluding thoughts on driving enterprise-wide results.