As times get tough, CFOs get tougher

CFOs tighten focus on cost control


CFOs plan to meet goals in tough environment


CFOs' outlook for the U.S. economy continues to decline, but most still plan to meet their company's growth and other goals. Inflation, inventories, supply chains and cost control are top issues.


What’s in the report?

  • CFO optimism down another 10 points
  • CFOs still plan to meet muted growth goals
  • Cost control now a key focus
  • Workforce continues to be a challenge

CFOs are tightening their belts


Through 2021, as CFO navigated the recovery from lockdowns, a recession and the early impact of COVID, they were largely focused on rebuilding their workforce through an historically tight labor market and fighting novel supply chain challenges to maintain inventory. Cost control was not top of mind. “At the beginning of 2021 there was this sense that COVID was ending and growth was going to ramp up. Businesses were far more confident about the economy and were loosening their belts a little,” says Sean Denham, Grant Thornton National Audit Growth Leader and Office Managing Partner, Philadelphia office. “Now, with most expecting a recession, they’ve tightened their belts considerably.”

One area CFOs may be targeting in particular? Travel. When asked where they expected to reduce investment in the coming year, travel was the top choice at 29%--more than twice as likely to be chosen than any other category.

Renewed emphasis on cost control is clear in our survey results. When asked to rank areas of focus, cost control was the top choice by a more than two-to-one margin over all other options, with liquidity and debt/access to capital coming in second and third. Clearly, CFOs are expecting difficult conditions and are preparing to meet them.


This chart lists 8 issues and asks CFOs to rank them from 1 (most important) to 10 (least important). Cost optimization is clearly ranked most important, followed by Liquidity and Debt/Access to Capital.

Leadership team

Sean Denham

Sean Denham is the Global Services Industry Leader and Office Managing Partner (OMP) for Grant Thornton’s Philadelphia office.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Manufacturing
  • Technology and telecommunications
  • Transportation, logistics, warehousing and distribution
Service Experience
  • Audit
  • Private company audit
  • Public company audit