Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 14, 2017

Do you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in finance, but you are short of time? Don’t worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. A Fortune 150 CFO's Advice: How NOT to Sell Information Technology
In 2009, Ray Sadowski was the CFO at Avnet, Fortune's 144th largest company at the time. I attended a lecture he gave in San Antonio to more than a thousand IT sales people who used Avnet as their distributor. In Sadowski's opinion, sales reps who tried to directly sell him a product or service commonly used some truly awful sales habits. He compiled those habits into a list of his 10 "pet peeves," which was the basis of his presentation. The list has been very valuable to me since, and it is too good not to share.

2. Robots are coming to the accounting industry — here's how to prepare
There's been quite a lot of speculation recently that the growing sophistication and pervasiveness of artificial intelligence will decimate the ranks of the professional services industry, with accounting particularly endangered. Indeed, a 2013 Oxford University study listed accountants and auditors as among the most threatened by computers, and a 2016 McKinsey report predicted that 86 percent of the work done by bookkeepers, accountants, and auditing clerks, had the technical potential to be automated.

3. Pressed by Investors, CFOs Awake to Sustainability
The notion of using resource conservation, plant safety, labor, or other environmental and social issues in a company's valuation and financial reporting has always been a tough sell for CFOs. Just utter the word "sustainability," and a finance chief's eyes are likely to glaze over. The gains and losses of the next quarter are likely to be more compelling than the question of whether a company's plants will have access to cheap energy over the next 20 years, for example.

4. This Is How You Move From Reporting Into Serious Data Analytics
If you have lots of data in lots of places, but aren't putting those data sources together to learn how the business works, you're wasting a lot of money. It's fine to know how much stuff you made last month, or how much you sold, or the characteristics or your customer base. But until you learn how those things relate to one another, you're missing out on information that enables you to make your business bigger and more profitable. You don't need to take a big, expensive leap of faith to benefit from data analytics.

5. How To Use Artificial Intelligence To Stay On Top Of Your Bottom Line
The proliferation of the Internet has made it simple to open and run a business from anywhere, but one side effect of the tech boom has been increased competition. Business owners and management teams have never faced so much pressure to deliver better results in less time - and that calls for some serious innovation. One source of potential assistance is Artificial Intelligence, but can it really help you stay on top of your business' bottom line?

6. 6 Ways to Look More Confident During a Presentation
Several years ago, colleagues and I were invited to predict the results of a start-up pitch contest in Vienna, where 2,500 tech entrepreneurs were competing to win thousands of euros in funds. We observed the presentations, but rather than paying attention to the ideas the entrepreneurs were pitching, we were watching the body language and microexpressions of the judges as they listened. We gave our prediction of who would win before the winners were announced and, as we and the audience soon learned, we were spot on. We had spoiled the surprise.

7. 7 ways to reduce talent turnover
Employees have become more engaged in their work and their companies in the past three years, making them more productive and less likely to switch jobs. But competition for skilled accounting and finance professionals continues to have CFOs worried about talent recruitment and retention, research by recruiting and consulting companies suggests. About 60% of US CFOs said employee engagement had improved, but more than half (52%) were concerned the level of engagement wasn't enough, according to a Robert Half survey of about 2,200 US finance chiefs.

8. Companies Slow to Transition to New Lease Accounting Rules, Survey ...
With less than two years to go before the Financial Accounting Standards Board's new lease accounting standard takes effect, a recent survey from Robert Half Management Resources revealed that 80 percent of companies in nine business categories have yet to begin the transition - though finance companies are slightly ahead in certain preparations. Robert Half surveyed more than 2,200 CFOs at companies in 22 of the largest US metro areas. Besides finance companies, the CFOs represented organizations in retail, manufacturing, professional services, construction, wholesale, transportation, business services, and others.

9. Disruptive Influences: 20 Tech Companies to Watch
Venture capital money is flowing freely. Cloud infrastructure is enabling startup companies to operate on scant fixed investment. Next-generation technologies are promising to revolutionize business processes. In many ways, it is a boon time for enterprise technology. But for finance chiefs trying to pick their way through whitepapers, conferences, product pitches, and webinars, the array of products and vendors can be dizzying. And new companies pop up continually, making it difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest.

10. KPIs: The Key to Corporate Compliance
New Justice Department guidance on compliance highlights the need for a data-driven approach to compliance. While some industries, particularly those that are intensely regulated, have well-developed risk and compliance functions, the newly released Justice Department guidance, "Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs," is essential reading for all businesses. Specifically, the guidance focuses on the use of data in the assessment of compliance programs.