Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 24, 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. Apple Bank here we come Guys, it's happening. Did you miss the news? You probably did, because the announcement was tucked in between demos of the latest iMessage stickers. Millennials... sigh. At the annual developer conference WWDC, Apple announced their next move into the world of Financial Services. If you thought Apple Pay was as far as they would go, you were mistaken. Sorely mistaken! 2. Amazon, Whole Foods, and the Future of the (Old) New Economy I heard the news today, oh boy — Amazon is buying Whole Foods Market in a deal worth nearly $14 billion. The combination of these iconic companies, both of which have come of age in the last two decades, raises obvious questions. Does the transaction reflect how hard it’s been for Whole Foods to keep Wall Street satisfied with its growth and profits? (It does.) Does the deal underscore just how expansive a vision Jeff Bezos has for Amazon, his dream of it becoming the “everything store”? (No doubt.) 3. Why accountants need to get a grip on blockchain By strict definition, blockchain is a global digital ledger of economic transactions that is transparent, continually updated by countless users, and considered by many as almost impossible to corrupt or hack. But in the broader sense, blockchain is also a lightning rod for highly charged opinion, confusion, and even fear. Some argue that blockchain will completely transform finance, accounting, and auditing. Others are decidedly more circumspect regarding its impact. And a certain segment is nervous, not knowing whether blockchain will make portions of the accounting profession obsolete – perhaps large ones, specifically as it relates to the current audit and tax practices focusing on compliance. 4. CFOs Still Spurning High-Return Projects Modern finance theory says that as long as an investment earns a rate higher than the cost of capital, it creates value for a firm. Thus, when the hurdle rate exceeds the cost of capital, a firm is passing up value-creating projects, explains John Graham, professor of finance at Duke University. 5. 5 Leadership Mistakes Even the Best Bosses Make If you think your boss is some freak of nature and you're the luckiest person alive, I'll break it to you gently: He or she is human and will make mistakes. The great ones rise up from their errors by A) acknowledging they made a mistake and correcting a behavior (think humility), or B) acknowledging a blind spot that needs to be addressed, then doing something about it. Lets dive into a few prevalent leadership mistakes that even the best and smartest leaders tend to make. 6. How artificial intelligence can deliver real value to companies After decades of extravagant promises and frustrating disappointments, artificial intelligence (AI) is finally starting to deliver real-life benefits to early-adopting companies. Retailers on the digital frontier rely on AI-powered robots to run their warehouses—and even to automatically order stock when inventory runs low. Utilities use AI to forecast electricity demand. Automakers harness the technology in self-driving cars. 7. How Can You Tell Someone Has True Leadership Skills? Look for This ... Ever been in an important meeting where a topic on the agenda causes tension that you can cut with a knife? Instead of colleagues speaking up to solve an issue, you get poker faces and eyes looking down to avert what nobody wants to deal with. The same is true when it comes to having those tough conversations to call someone to the carpet. We procrastinate or avoid the confrontation, because it's never pleasant, for example, to tell someone she's not cutting it. So when people ask me, "What's the secret to great communication?" my usual response baffles some, because it can seem so counterintuitive: "Be radically transparent." 8. The benefits of thinking like an activist investor The rapid growth and influence of activist investors has many executives nervously looking over their shoulders. Even large companies are increasingly vulnerable (Exhibit 1). But there is a benefit to be had by those managers with the courage to take as hard a look at their own company’s performance as a performance-minded outsider might. The objective isn’t necessarily for managers to do what activists would do—activists’ performance is mixed, after all (Exhibit 2). Instead, the goal is for managers to examine their own strategy, governance, and operations with an eye to unearthing opportunities to improve performance. 9. How To Write A Work Email When You’re Really Pissed Off Just don’t. But if you absolutely must, do it like this. 10. Top 10 tips for great teamwork Doing great teamwork or being an inspirational team leader are terms we often hear bandied in our workplace or perhaps in the plethora of management aid books now available. Leader, player, server of teams – we all have a part to play. Yet, how well are you playing your part? In the first of a new series of articles by global job board CareersinAudit.com, Simon Wright, operations director, provides a top 10 teamwork checklist.