News & events

The CFO is becoming a true business partner

Panelists discussing the evolving role of the CFO: Shabeer Khan, CFO of the dti, Sean Doherty, CFO Investment Banking, Standard Bank, Fabian Cazares, CFO/ Head of Finance, Philips Healthtech, Logamal Ramiah, CFO, Netsurit and Prof Francois du Toit, Associate Professor at Unisa SBL.

The evolving role of the strategic Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was high on the agenda during the last CFO Talks of 2017 on Wednesday 22 November presented by the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) in partnership with the South African Institute for Business Accountants (SAIBA).  A panel of specialists discussed this matter during the event and came to the conclusion that the role of the CFO has evolved in the past 10 years from a tactical role to that of a strategist partaking in the future plans of organisations.

In her welcoming of participants to the event Prof Sasha Monyamane, SBL acting Chief Operating Officer, said that since the inception of the partnership between SAIBA and the SBL in 2015 the two organisations have been working diligently to visualise shared commitment to develop, grow and empower CFO’s and related financial professionals in South Africa. “The two organisations are committed to develop a career path for CFO’s in South Africa towards professional designation as we believe that CFO’s do not only play a pivotal role in ensuring the financial sustainability of organisations – we believe that CFO’s have got a greater leadership and managerial role to fulfil,” said Monyamane.

“Since 2015 we have developed a framework that illustrates the alignment between the CFO designated career path and our flagship programme, the MBL Master of Business Leadership (MBL) as well as our newly introduced MBA. With a strong focus on the enhancement of dynamic leadership qualities the MBL’s envisaged outcome is to develop innovative, inspiring and visionary organisational leaders who value diversity in a team context. CFOs interested in enrolling for this qualification will develop transformative, personal, group, organisational and strategic capabilities that will meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Monyamane concluded.

The panel consisted of Shabeer Khan, CFO of the dti, Sean Doherty, CFO Investment Banking, Standard Bank, Fabian Cazares, CFO/ Head of Finance, Philips Healthtech, Logamal Ramiah, CFO, Netsurit and Prof Francois du Toit, Associate Professor at Unisa SBL.  The panelists agreed that the difficult part of strategy is not the design of that strategy but the eventual execution thereof.  It was clear from the discussion that the CFO plays and integral part in the conceptualisation of strategies for organisations however, the CFO needs to agile and informed to assist with the adaption of the strategy as the business playing field changes.  The direction of business is constantly challenged in the often turbulent and volatile African markets which require a different set of skills of all the members of the C-suite.

The CFO must have the ability to look beyond the numbers and be able to maneuver both internal and external stakeholders, although the panel agreed that the CFO must keep the basics in place as the foundation to work from.   The CFO is often the person that has insight in all data and reports which directs the strategy which organisation will design.  This implies that he/ she must keep a finger on the pulse on the “bigger picture” of the organisation to assist the CEO and other decision makers with strategic decision making as well as the adaption of strategy due to a change in the business environment.

In conclusion the panel agreed that future CFO’s must be able to adapt to disruptions in the workplace like automation and technological development.  This future CFO will take up the role of a true business partner who assists the organisation to survive and be more flexible in the difficult market conditions that is often encountered on the continent.

Publish date: 2017-11-24 00:00:00.0