CFOs face similar challenges worldwide

ACCA SA recently hosted a CFO Roundtable on the changing role of the CFO. ACCA has hosted similar roundtables worldwide, culminating in the release of a joint IMA and ACCA Research Report last year entitled: “The changing role of the CFO.”

Delegates were asked to share some of the challenges that they face on a daily basis. Challenges included: trying to transform financial systems across a global playing field; keeping up to date with the technical and legal aspects of accounting, auditing and tax, also international treaties from a tax perspective; training staff; skills shortages; high staff turnover; insufficient numbers coming into the accounting and auditing profession; learners failing to complete their auditing and accounting qualifications; a lack of required competencies; promoting clean administration in terms of governance; a lack of performance data to assess one’s performance relative to one’s peers; issues around talent management and retention; compliance.

Issues which kept CFOs awake at night include: volatility and constant change within the global space; financial stability in an environment constrained by resources as a result of the global financial crisis; increasing levels of regulation as a result of globalisation and the fact that companies are now more ‘visible’ than previously; the focus on BEE in South Africa; the need to protect one’s own economy (localisation); increasing levels of complexity around technology; data analytics; the impact of ‘cloud’; finance policies and systems ill-suited to the 21st century; financial sustainability; the need to transform financial systems and processes; stakeholder questions for which we have no answers; pressures around the finance function being the panacea for all challenges facing the organisation; adding value; keeping up to date with legislation; growing stakeholder expectations; anticipating what can lead to business failure; accountability; capacity constraints; providing clients with value for money; and bridging the expectation gap in terms of what we can deliver, and what we cannot deliver.

South Africa is truly part of the global village. Our round table confirmed that the challenges that CFOs in South Africa face are very similar to the challenges that their counterparts face world-wide. Perhaps the only real difference in the CFO’s role in South Africa is that CFOs also need to focus on BEE; they also have to grapple with an additional dimension, deficits in terms of soft skills.

The Research Report: “The changing role of the CFO,” can be downloaded from the ACCA website:

Nadine Kater
Head of ACCA SA

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