What is occupying the Minds of CFOs?

ACCA

ACCA’s market position as leader in support and research provides assistance to members and industry, drawing on current and future trends. ACCA as an association calls on members to provide feedback from the industry in order to assist with the correct support and research data.

The financial landscape brings a fair share of stress. CFO’s are required to juggle multiple tasks in order to remain loyal to a prescribed objective. This juggling “effect” is found in majority of local and international companies as they go about their day-to-day duties. In a recent networking, CFOs and Finance Directors shared what is occupying their minds and also the challenges they face in trying to find success in their roles.

CFO SA director Melle Eijckelhoff kicked the discussion off, asking guests what’s keeping them occupied at the moment. Amanda Albäck, Financial Director at Tongaat Hulett, replied – “the margin squeeze” as the biggest consumer of mind focus. The paradox of balancing ever-increasing operating costs against keeping customer price increases reasonable, and showing satisfactory profit growth is a reality that businesses find themselves having to deal with every day.”

Peter Walsh, Group CFO at Servest, mentioned “expanding into Africa” as one of the most stressful parts of his work. “There is a lot of pressure to get it right, but people we deal with quite unashamedly ask for facility payments, as they call it. There are massive opportunities in the continent, but there are also plenty of headaches.” Domestically, Walsh sometimes senses distrust for his company, because it can provide an integrated package of many different services, ranging from security to lawn mowing. “When we manage a property, there is one point of contact. If any part, regardless if it is security or landscaping, does not do well, it brings risks for the whole development. That is certainly a risk that we face.”

The challenges of Jobo Moshesh, CFO of SITA, are different. His parastatal company consolidates and coordinates the State’s information technology resources, leading to some unique issues. “A significant majority of our clients get money from National Treasury.  My role at SITA requires consistently maintaining a creative balance between ensuring the financial sustainability of the organisation, while effectively lowering the cost of delivering ICT services and solutions to our clients. This environment is governed with laws such as the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), a piece of legislation that requires a combination of sound fiscal management and a commitment in practice to implementing effective governance” (http://cfo.co.za/profiles/blogs/cfos-discuss-their-challenges-during-successful-executive-dinner )

The mark that truly sets successful CFOs and Financial Directors from those that fail is the ability to; handle the challenges that exist currently and ensure that sound solutions are crafted to turn them to success; and further to look at the future and see the trends that may have direct or indirect impact on the business and the operations.

The upcoming ACCA event titled the Future of Finance Leadership Summit on the 20th August 2015 will look at future challenges on the horizon that will affect the way finance professionals in South Africa do business. Borrowing from the findings of the ACCA research reports titled, Future Pathways to Finance Leadership, one of the subjects discussed will be the twin peaks model of regulation. This regulation that will be monitored by the SARB and the FSB will modify the methods of operation that finance practitioners are used to.

The summit will also delve into the issue of Generation-Y (Report: Generation Y: Realising the Potential) and the motivations that drive this market. The need to understand this market needs no emphasis; this cohort will in the years to come be the backbone that the country leans on. The transfer of skills from the old generations to Generation-Y cannot be ignored by HR Specialists. This market is important to employers and also to the industry.

The rapid speed that the financial sector is evolving requires constant learning and re-learning. The ability to learn from the past, manage the present and anticipate the movements of the future will be the difference between efficient finance practitioners and those that struggle to confirm.

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