2024 CFO Study: A Travelers Special Report

Business professionals having a meeting around a table at an office.

Inside the minds of CFOs: A deep understanding

Chief Financial Officers of large companies are sophisticated insurance buyers with accountability to determine which risk financing solutions are right for their business. To learn more about the challenges they face, we surveyed 610 CFOs in insurance decision-making roles for companies with 500+ employees across a mix of industries.

We asked them about topics ranging from macroeconomic concerns to internal issues. We learned their fears about talent shortages and post-pandemic workforce dynamics as well as the role insurance plays in their companies’ success.

What the survey revealed about how they’re dealing with exposures as well as the partners they rely on for risk management may surprise you with insights that can help you better serve this otherwise difficult-to-reach audience.

67% of CFOs have sole responsibility for purchase decisions regarding commercial property and casualty insurance.

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

Macroeconomic factors: Top CFO concerns and optimisms

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An undercurrent of worry about economic uncertainty, competition and inflation is balanced by the CFOs’ optimism about their companies’ financial strength, their customer base and how technology (like AI) will bring efficiencies to their business over time. They’re confident in their companies’ actions to invest in digital capabilities and emerging technology.

"When facing business challenges and uncertainties, we need to maintain a positive attitude and constantly learn and innovate to lead the company’s growth."
- CFO, Transportation, <1,000 employees

Top 10 factors of greatest concern

Economic uncertainty 33%
Market competition 33%
Talent acquisition and retention 32%
Inflation 30%
Customer satisfaction/retention 27%
Financial stability of your company 26%
Cybersecurity 24%
Interest rates 21%
Public policies and regulatory compliance 20%
Employee satisfaction and engagement 19%

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

Top 10 factors of greatest optimism

Financial stability of your company 41%
Corporate reputation 37%
Customer satisfaction/retention 32%
Artificial intelligence (AI) 30%
Employee satisfaction and engagement 29%
M&A activity 24%
Talent acquisition and retention 23%
Shareholder satisfaction 21%
Your company's intellectual property 20%
Diversity and inclusion 20%

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

Upskilling: CFO skills needed now and in the future

The evolving skillset of the CFO

Whereas the CFO role has historically focused on financial reporting, a trend continues toward developing multiple level partnerships to influence the C-suite and manage business risk. This will require a new level of charismatic leadership, communication skills and emotional intelligence.

"What’s changed over the last 20 years is the role of CFO to be more of a business partner – helping the board and the CEO actually manage the business."
- CFO, Private Manufacturing, 1,000+ employees

"As I’ve let go of the accounting nature in my past and really gotten more operationally forward-thinking, I think that helps propel the organization. It makes me a good partner to my CEO."
- CFO, Private Healthcare, 1,000+ employees

Two professionals having a meeting at a table in an office and looking at a laptop.

Most valuable skills needed

Strategic planning for future company success and resiliency 62%
Ability to manage a complex network of internal and external stakeholders relationships 52%
Identifying and mitigating various business risks 52%
Charismatic leadership and strong communication skills 48%
Use of tools and dashboards for advanced data analytics 44%
Building advanced technologies for organizational resilience 39%
Ability to respond to disruption from technology or other industries 39%
Staying updated on financial regulations 37%
Emotional intelligence and experience in people issues like diversity and well-being 36%
A willingness to champion continuous learning 33%

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

M&A effects on CFO roles and responsibilities

Mergers and acquisitions activity among the businesses we surveyed has been strong and shows little signs of slowing. While good for business growth, it opens companies up to new risks and new responsibilities for the CFO – the greatest impacts coming from increased workload, integration involvement and strategic development.

"The process of assessing and managing financial risks became more complex. I had to identify and mitigate potential risks associated with the integration."
- CFO, Public Healthcare, <1,000 employees

The impact of M&A on CFO responsibilities

No impact

Slightly impacted

Moderately impacted

Highly impacted

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024 

2024 will be much of the same


We are not actively pursuing acquisitions.


We are open to acquiring a company that is the right fit.


We are actively looking to be acquired.

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

The workforce: National trends in hiring and retention

Construction workers having a meeting and looking at paperwork on site.

Workforce concerns

As the labor market continues to tighten and unemployment remains low, it puts pressure on companies to invest in employee development and be thoughtful about workload and overall well-being. The post-pandemic hybrid work environment is also a concern they need to manage.

"We cannot find skilled trades people; we probably bumped our hourly salaries 12% in total over the last couple years.”
- CFO, Private Manufacturing, <1,000 employees

Post-pandemic workforce challenges

Talent retention and acquisition 44%
Rising cost of labor 43%
Employee expectations 33%
Talent shortage 33%
Hybrid and remote work environment 32%
Employee reskilling and upskilling 29%
Risk management 26%
Capacity management/workload 22%
Well-being of employees 20%
Succession planning 20%

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

Lack of succession planning can leave companies exposed

Have no plans. Firms with no risk manager/team are significantly more likely to have no plans (41% vs. 27%, respectively).

Have begun planning but haven't implemented.

Developed plans but successor hasn't been identified.

Developed and implemented plans and successor has been identified. Firms with $500M+ in net revenue are significantly more likely to have a plan developed and successor identified.

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

How much risk management is proactive vs. reactive?

Among the companies we surveyed, CFOs mentioned that almost two-thirds of their risk management activities are proactive in nature. That means over a third of their risk management is reactive in that they don’t implement a new process until after an incident has occurred.





Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

Two professionals discussing a paperwork in an office building next to the windows.

CFOs rely on internal and external stakeholders

CFOs are partnering with risk managers, insurance brokers and carriers, CIOs, CTOs and human resources, to help them manage risk – with themselves at the center of the decision-making process. While most companies have established best practices for mitigating and responding to risk, carriers can play a key role by analyzing data available for their industry.

“I think of myself with the CEO as a thought partner when it comes to things that go way beyond just financial insights. It’s thinking about risk, business continuity and potential costs down the line."
- CFO, Private Technology, 1,000+ employees

Other partners CFOs rely on for risk management

Risk manager 60%
CIO 40%
Insurance agent/broker 40%
Insurance carrier 35%
Human Resources 33%

Source: Travelers CFO Study, 2024

Contact your Travelers account executive or visit: travelers.com/business-insurance

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