The Wall Street Journal CFO Network annual meeting, held June 11-12 in Washington D.C., came at an interesting time. U.S. President Donald Trump was meeting with North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, and the G7 Summit had wrapped up with a controversial tweet just days before. Trade and global relations are important issues for CFOs, as are accounting standards, blockchain technologies, cybersecurity, and more.
These and other topics were covered during the fascinating, two-day event, featuring panelists from both the public and private sectors. Here are eight takeaways from the meeting, which was sponsored by Workday.
Not everyone agrees on the benefits of economic stimulus efforts such as corporate tax cuts. Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council on Economic Advisers, is bullish on a continuing strong economy: “We don’t see any downturn on the horizon,” he said, and expects “three percent growth sustained out past the next couple of years.” This was in response to a question by a Wall Street Journal editor about a recent prediction by former Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke that economic stimulus efforts would soon negatively impact the economy.
Revenue recognition isn’t easy. In an electronic poll, the audience of CFOs were asked which of four accounting standards is the most difficult to implement. Revenue recognition took the lead with 46 percent of the vote, barely beating out lease accounting at 43 percent. The other two, credit losses and hedging, apparently don’t cause as much pain.
CFOs need to be involved in preventing and acting upon sexual harassment in the workplace. That includes providing HR professionals with a direct line to report allegations to executive leadership while ensuring they have legal protection if they do so. “You want your HR professionals to tell you the truth—don’t sugarcoat,” said Debra Katz, a partner at Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP. She added that workforce training should “move away from risk reduction to instilling the values of a good culture.”