Investments in M&As and sustainability will be first areas to face cuts in organizations feeling their margins squeezed, according to Gartner CFO and CEO survey; last areas to cut spending will be workforce and talent development, technology

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July 25, 2022 (press release) –

Investments in Talent and Technology Will Be Reduced Last

A June 2022 survey of 128 CFOs and CEOs showed that investments in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and sustainability will be the first areas to face cuts in organizations feeling their margins triple squeezed by rising inflation, talent shortages and supply constraints, according to Gartner, Inc.  

“Cuts to M&A are an obvious choice after record activity in 2021 and with rising interest rates significantly increasing the cost of financing such deals,” said Randeep Rathindran, vice president, research in the Gartner Finance practice. “It’s more surprising to see sustainability so close to the chopping block because CEOs rated it as a top strategic priority for the first time in 2022, and ESG disclosures are increasingly becoming enshrined in legislation.” 

The survey identified the most selected areas that CEOs and CFOs will likely cut first in the face of continued economic disruption (see Figure 1).

Forty-six percent of CEOs and CFOs said spending on workforce and talent development would be the last area to cut, and 45% of respondents said they would cut digital investments last. Technology investments are also the least likely first cut, with just 23% of respondents placing it in their top two.

“Despite the cost, companies are turning to digital investments to improve efficiency and protect margins,” said Rathindran. “According to Gartner’s 2022 FinTech Bullseye Report, companies that implement blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and digital twin technologies see improvements in reporting ability, performance optimization, and workforce efficiency. Implementing digital in a way that boosts the productivity of workers, assets, and working capital will be a necessity going forward.”

Although talent and workforce development was the top pick to protect from cuts, a third of respondents also rated it as one of first areas to cut.

“This is likely due to differences by industry, because companies in service-based industries are most likely to reduce their investments due to the high proportion of labor costs,” said Rathindran. “Meanwhile, product-based industries protect these investments as a source of advantage, helping them to maximize human capital.”

Gartner clients can learn more in: How Inflation Is Affecting CFO Investment Priorities.

CFOs and finance leaders can participate in Gartner research and get complementary access by joining the Gartner Research Circle.

About the Gartner Finance Practice

The Gartner Finance practice helps senior finance executives meet their top priorities. Gartner offers a unique breadth and depth of content to support clients’ individual success and deliver on key initiatives that cut across finance functions to drive business impact. Learn more at https://www.gartner.com/en/finance/finance-leaders. Follow Gartner for Finance on LinkedIn and Twitter using #GartnerFinance to stay ahead of the latest expert insights and key trends shaping the Finance function. Visit the Gartner Finance Newsroom for more information and insights.

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