5 key insights about CFOs in Africa

KPMG’s 2014 Africa CFO Survey is based on the international survey Being the best: Inside the intelligent finance function. It collates and interprets responses from 264 CFOs of medium-to-large companies with a quarter of them working for companies with revenue over $1 billion. Here are 5 key insights about African CFOs from that survey.

  • Confidence. Just over half (51%) of the CFOs are satisfied with the performance of their finance function. Only 10% of respondents rated any part of their finance process as a weakness. Among the biggest strengths, CFO list general accounting, statutory reporting and month-end/year-end closing. Greg Davis, CFO Africa at the Standard Bank Group, recently wrote a fascinating article outlining 4 principles for doing business in Africa.
  • Less bean counting. CFOs and Finance Directors want to up the percentage of time they spend on decision support and spend less time on transaction processing. It's a familiar tune that CFO South Africa hears a lot from the CFOs we interview.
  • Lean & mean. Three quarters of CFOs say a lean finance function is an important goal. Enablers of a lean and mean team are IT, optimized business processes and talent, skills and expertise of staff. A great example of a lean business operating in Africa is Promasidor, so why not head over to our interview with Promasidor CFO Austin McDonald?
  • Risky business. Only 7% of the CFOs say they have "fully Integrated policies" to cover market risks. However, many CFOs tell us that risk is taking a higher place on their agenda each year. Delphine Maidou, CEO of Allianz AGCS and member of the panel of judges for the CFO Awards, is someone who is in a great position to assess those risks.
  • People power. Talent management is the most important factor to the value-adding success and competitiveness of the finance function, but it is also very difficult to master. Only 16% percent of CFOs are confident enough to say that their organization is "very skilled/strong" at talent management. CFOs say "investments in talent, talent management, acquisition and retention" are the most important enablers to improve the finance function. A South African company with a great emphasis on talent is EOH and it perhaps wasn't surprising that its CFO John King won last year's High Performance Team Award.