CFOs in the winelands - Platinum Member and VIP Tour

A tour of the cape winelands offers CFOs a chance to connect

"It's very interesting that when you look at some of the international benchmarks, South Africa is ranked tenth in the world when it comes to protecting investors from directors. That's a CFO's responsibility," said Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten.

Flaatten said this showed SA's CFOs were serious about their jobs and that there was a regulatory framework to support them.

Wesgro is the Western Cape's economic development agency sponsored the CFO South Africa Event Risk, Compliance & Control Forum at the Cape Town Club and the tour to the cape winelands, which took place the following day.

Flaatten said he saw meeting CFOs as an opportunity to connect with key decision makers Wesgro never really meet. Though it met often with people who drive strategy like CEOs and chairmen of boards at events like the Mining Indaba and the World Economic Forum throughout the year, Wesgro rarely got to promote the cape to people who controlled the purse string.

Besides selling the cape as an investment destination to CFOs, it was also an opportunity to learn about the pressing issues in public and private sector finance like changing of accounting standards and expectations on governance, he said.

Though local CFOs may be doing an outstanding job in protecting shareholders, it comes with a hidden cost.

They often felt isolated in their jobs because it required them to stand up to their colleagues on a regular basis. The hidden cost of constantly telling them "no" has often left them feeling somewhat removed from the organisations they worked - a condition they dubbed "the island."

This was why the tour to Spice Route Winery and the neighbouring Fairview Wine and Cheese Farm near Paarl, about an hour outside of Cape Town, gave CFOs a welcome break from the island. Out in the winelands they could bond with colleagues who have gone through the same difficulties.

The participants wasted no time getting to know each other better over a grappa tasting and a wine and biltong/chocolate pairing at Spice Route Winery. This was later followed by a three course lunch and a wine tasting at Fairview.

Semphete Oosterwyk, CFO for the Department of Economic Development said though she enjoyed the previous night's forum sessions what she enjoyed the most was the interactions with her colleagues. "It's nice being off the island," she noted.

This view was also reflected by Sumar Coetzee, CFO for the Hantum Local Municipality who had met Oosterwyk for the first time at the forum. She and Oosterwyk said they intended to keep in contact with each other.

Besides building their networks, it was also a chance for CFOs to just enjoy having a break in the winelands. Vuyo Mafata, CFO for the Unemployment Insurance Fund said he had been to the area once before but that was just a fleeting business trip. This time around besides having a chance to really enjoy the stunning scenery, he also got to eat an extraordinary beef fillet.

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