CFOs are solving unique challenges when it comes to retaining staff


CFOs Louis de Wet and Lehan le Grange have had to find ways to retain staff by addressing remote working and development challenges during exponential technological advances.

Many CFOs have expressed how difficult it is to find finance talent at the moment, because candidates often don’t have the right skills or technical qualifications, they come at too high a cost for organisations in a struggling economy, or they struggle to find the right culture fit.

TradeOn SA CFO Louis de Wet has also noticed this shortage, saying:

“Finding suitable candidates to fill the roles within our business and then retaining them has been a big challenge”.

As an established KFC franchise business based in Cape Town, TradeOn SA’s operations are largely cash-centred. “We need our staff on site, which makes remote work out of the question,” Louis explains. This makes recruiting talent especially difficult, as most people are looking to work from home since the Covid-19 pandemic showed them it was possible. “We offer flexi-time and tend to hire only from designated areas close to our offices to avoid difficult commutes for our team members,” he adds.

For Ecentric Payment Systems, it’s the opposite problem. CFO Lehan le Grange explains that his finance team members’ average tenure is seven years, so it has been a while since they’ve had to recruit anyone. However, they still face unique challenges when it comes to talent development.

“Low staff turnover has led to a perceived lack of career growth opportunities, and the team has gotten comfortable with doing things the way they’ve always been done,” he explains. This has made introducing any change a challenge in itself. “Adapting to the fourth industrial revolution and getting rid of old-faithful accounting software proved challenging initially, as the impetus for change was not well-embraced.”

The Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (FEM) CFO Yusuf Bodiat agrees that “sustainability in the form of rapid technological advances and change pose significant challenges and risks to businesses”.

He explains that we are living in a time where these technological advances are exponential. “You have to be constantly learning and upskilling how these technological advances can aid the business, while at the same time creating the required budgets for the business to afford to adopt these changes.”

In order to do this, Lehan had to create awareness in the team of how easy it is to automate a lot of their daily functions. “This was done by creating a lot of automations in Excel, as well as by exposing them to webinars and seminars,” he explains, adding that the CFO Summit at Killarney Country Club last year was a key part of this.

“We had to help them understand that automation and renewal is not a threat to their careers, but rather an opportunity to extend the longevity thereof.”

He says it was important to stress that Ecentric would be there to help them every step of the way and, as a result of all their efforts, they have managed to maintain their good retention scores.

“Today, each team member’s responsibilities differ vastly from what they were two years ago, with minimal time spent on repetitive, mundane activities. Their focus has shifted to analysis and reporting, finding relevant information and more engagement with executives and board members,” Lehan concludes.

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