Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 16, 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. Think digital is a big deal? You ain't seen nothing yet
All the talk of digital disruption turning incumbents into dinosaurs and unicorns into masters of entirely new domains might lead you to think this is already an old narrative—so 2016. In fact, digitization has barely started, and so has the accompanying upheaval. Digital technologies and processes have penetrated only about 35% of the way into the average industry, meaning that merely a third of a typical company's products and operations that could be digitized have been.

2. How functional leaders become CEOs
Holding a functional leadership role isn't the most direct route to becoming a CEO. Fewer than 15 percent of the CEOs in a data set we've been scrutinizing for more than a year ascended to the corner office after serving as a functional leader such as chief financial officer, chief marketing officer (CMO), chief strategy officer, chief technology officer (CTO), or general counsel. Nearly all the rest had been operators—CEOs at other companies, leaders of major operating divisions, or chief operating officers.

3. What to Do About Mediocrity on Your Team
The toughest test of a manager is not how they deal with poor performance — it's how they address mediocrity. I've been struck over the years watching executives opine in public about the need for "accountability" and "high performance," then complain helplessly in private about one or two middling members of their own team. You have no moral authority to ask other managers to hold people accountable if you're not doing so yourself. Are you sure you're doing enough to push for high performance? How many employees do you have whose performance isn't bad enough for termination, but whom you'd pass on if you could get a do-over on hiring them?

4. Risk Management Costs Dove 5% in 2016
With the insurance industry glutted with capital, corporations were among those benefiting from the oversupply by paying lower prices for property-casualty coverage in 2016, according to the Risk and Insurance Management Society's annual benchmark study. The main drivers of a 5% overall decline in risk-related expenses were a 12% drop in the cost of covering property exposures; of 6% for workers' compensation; and of 5% for liability, according to the study. The only area in which risk managers saw rising costs was to cover fidelity, surety, and crime losses.

5. The 5 habits of top risk managers
Companies taking the lead in risk management practices are shifting away from protection mode, tying in risk management with strategic initiatives and decision-making, and placing more risk decision-making in the hands of business units. PwC characterises these risk leaders as Front Liners in a new survey report, which gathered the opinion of nearly 1,600 corporate officers in 80 countries. The report singled out Front Liners as just 13% of respondents globally.

6. How the most productive CEO's keep e-mail in check
How many hours a day do you spend sifting through your inbox? Does the idea of taking up arms against a sea of emails each morning feel hopeless? You aren't alone. Some of the most productive people out there struggle with email—or used to, before coming up with some useful hacks and regimens to help them. Email may not be going away anytime soon (even the pros at group messaging companies like Slack and HipChat still rely on it for a few things), but there may be a few ways to make it more manageable. Here's how some of the busiest execs keep their email time to a minimum.

7. How to Get Your ROI on Employee Benefits Spending
If you're like most employers, attracting and retaining the right talent is critical to your success. You want the right people in the right position with the right training to meet your customers' needs, and you've likely made significant investments in your human capital to achieve these goals. Unfortunately, employees don't always understand or appreciate the investments that we make on their behalf.

8. Career steps CFOs can take to be CEO-worthy
CFO skills can translate well to the CEO role - and plenty of CFOs aspire to be the boss one day. Yet, not every finance chief is automatically CEO-worthy; some skills must be practised, and others must be learned on the job. One key step is the realisation that you are in charge. "That was one of the first things that hit me: I am the one making that final decision," said Anoop Mehta, CPA, CGMA, who became president of his company after previously serving as CFO.

9. Why CFOs must have robust intercompany agreements
The value of intercompany agreements (ICA), like many types of contractual arrangement, often only becomes apparent when something goes wrong. Businesses frequently take the view that the relationship between corporate entities within a group is unlikely to come under scrutiny and so neglect to invest in clear, legally robust intercompany agreements. Even when such agreements do exist, they are often badly drafted, incomprehensible and out-of-date, and don't reflect the commercial reality of how the group operates.

10. Elon Musk Succeeds by Doing the Exact Opposite of What We're All To...
How many times have you been told to focus, to narrow your efforts, and zero in on what you're good at? Whether you're an athlete or a startup founder or an artist, the conventional wisdom for decades has been that specialization leads to mastery leads to inevitable success. It makes perfect sense and has worked for countless experts, but then there's Elon Musk, who seems to focus on everything all at once, upending entire industries each time he sets his attention on something new.

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