In what has become a tradition, South Africa’s top finance leaders completed the CFO Survey at this year’s annual CFO Day on 5 July. The results are unpacked in this CFO Magazine special feature.
During the annual CFO Day on 5 July, 150 leading finance executives were asked to share their views on the prevailing issues in the current business and financial landscape, as well as give an opinion on the role their executive counterparts play in helping address these. CFO South Africa put together their answers and the results were:
ESG and sustainability has become the biggest driver of business transformation this decade. As many organisations try to keep up with the increasing demand from stakeholders to do good business, 84 percent of CFOs indicated that new ESG reporting requirements have resulted in real change.
“As senior leadership, we make decisions that have far-reaching consequences. In making these decisions, are we thinking about their impact beyond just the environment?” said BCX CFO CJ Kujenga on the day.
Meanwhile, 74 percent of CFOs said that this has resulted in more admin. More CFOs (26 percent in 2023 vs. 12 percent in 2022) are also concerned that the increased capital spend in meeting these requirements are resulting in less profit.
Technology is also rapidly changing the way we do business, and the way finance operates, with 88 percent of CFOs saying their companies will be more successful in the future because of innovation in the space of AI, robotics, IoT and computer learning.
“Technology can be an enabler, creating capacity and space for people to get closer to the business. And if you deploy the right people, the benefits of your technology transformation will be fast and furious,” Webber Wentzel CFO and 2023 Young CFO of the Year Aneshree Naidoo said during the Cape Town Summit at the beginning of the year.
According to the survey, 90 percent of CFOs also enjoy their job more. And with growing concerns around job security in this new world of work, the results showed that few CFOs (37 percent) believe their teams will be smaller as a result of these changes.
CIOs and CHROs
Over the last two years, the role high-performing teams play in an organisation’s success has become increasingly evident, especially at executive level when important decisions need to be made.
“The key to a successful team is its leaders. But it’s not about the title. It’s about the three I’s that we as leaders are responsible for: impact, influence and inspiration,” TWK Agri CFO Eddie Fivaz revealed at the Joburg Summit at the beginning of the year.
Sixty-four percent of CFOs agreed that their CIO is a visionary leader, and consider them a close ally. However, eight percent answered that their CIO is blocking progress and slowing their companies down.
Fifty-seven percent of CFOs agreed that their CHRO is a visionary leader, and 53 percent consider them a close ally. However, 14 percent indicated that their CHRO is blocking progress and slowing their companies down.
Attendees also shared their views on audit firm rotation in the survey, with 62 percent believing that MAFR creates more diversity and independence among auditors, despite being a burden on business.
Only 25 percent believe MAFR is an unnecessary, costly exercise without many benefits.
In an unexpected twist for the audit and finance profession, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) earlier this year ruled that the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) did not have the power to mandate audit firm rotation. This comes after 91 percent of listed entities, as well as many public interest entities, have already rotated firms.
Read more: MAFR no more!
As such, the SCA has deemed MAFR unlawful and said that it should be set aside.
However, according to a LinkedIn poll filled in by the CFO South Africa community, 59 percent still believe audit firm rotation is the right thing to do, with 21 percent having already done it without regrets, and 38 percent still planning on doing it.
Twenty-four percent of the CFO community believe they have dodged a bullet, and 17 percent regret their decision to rotate.
From the CFO Day survey results, it is clear that finance executives have embraced the power of technology and the importance of ESG. They are choosing to be enablers of the future, their teams and their C-suite colleagues, but are still keeping the risks close in mind.
This interview was originally published in the second edition of the 2023 CFO Magazine. Read it here.