Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 37, 2019

Want to stay up to date with the latest developments in finance, but short on time? Don't worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

0. Less Than Zero: The New Normal for Interest Rates?
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, financially sound governments had to pay interest rates of 6-8 percent in order to borrow. Financial advisors and investors used these figures to decide the allocation of portfolios for retirement purposes. If anyone had mentioned the possibility of negative interest rates back then, they would have been laughed at – it would be an aberration, negative interest rates weren’t possible in the real world.

1. The Strategy Behind TikTok’s Global Rise
Few tech startups have taken off as quickly as Beijing-based ByteDance, the creator of the highly popular 15-second video app, TikTok. In just two years, TikTok has emerged to rival companies like Netflix, YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook with more than one billion downloads in 150 markets worldwide and 75 languages. On the app, homemade videos showcase everything from comedy to lip syncs to dog grooming tips that users create and share on their phones. The scrappy, goofy, fast-moving content has hooked young audiences around the world.

2. M&A Risks: Buyers Beware
In 2018 the value of mergers and acquisitions worldwide was a cool $3.9 trillion, according to the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances. Companies very much like to make deals, which ideally provide strategic synergies, operating efficiencies, and a fast path to growth. Yet it’s equally certain that some transactions are the product of wishful thinking. After analyzing 2,500 deals, L.E.K. Consulting found that more than 60% of them destroyed shareholder value. What’s more, many companies are flailing about with no vision: In a survey of 400 top executives by Grant Thornton, only 31% of participants said they had a clear, well-understood M&A strategy.

3. Three Keys to Creating Prosperity in Africa
Too many minds are anchored on the notion of Africa as a place of need. To create sustainable prosperity, we need to revisit the lens through which we view the continent. We must also stop seeing its billion people in aggregate.

4. 4 common lies about performance and productivity
When it comes to becoming the best version of yourself, there’s a lot of bad advice out there. Sure, bodies and minds typically work better if they’re healthy, rested, and filled with the proper nutrients. But some experts warn that a combination of our interest in “hacking” and quick fixes coupled with all-or-nothing thinking could actually backfire.

5. I Just Discovered Warren Buffet's 25/5 Rule and It's Completely Brilliant
The 25/5 rule only takes five minutes to put into practice, but it can maximize your productivity and boost your career.

6. Why finance must become a data steward
The expanding use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning challenges the finance function to take on responsibility for personally identifiable information that technology can create, says Cindy Maike, CPA, vice-president, industry solutions at US-headquartered software company Cloudera and a data governance and compliance expert.

7. Speak softly, make tough decisions: An interview with Alibaba Group chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang
The chairman and CEO of China’s e-commerce giant describes Alibaba’s approach to innovation and how he balances analytics and instinct to push himself to spot hidden opportunities.

8. Upskilling for the digital age
The digital revolution is changing the way companies run and affecting the roles of auditors, accountants, and other financial professionals and how they are fulfilling their roles, according to Lauren Berrington, chief audit executive of South Africa-based The Bidvest Group. Berrington spoke Wednesday at the CGMA Africa Conference 2019: Finance Transformation in the Digital World in Cape Town.

9. Is your business really ready for Brexit? Managing foreign exchange during uncertain times.
Businesses with an exposure to foreign currencies are in turn exploring more flexible hedging strategies to help navigate periods of greater uncertainty and minimize negative impact on their bottom line.

10. Building the Environment to Create Trust and Solve Problems
FEI Daily speaks with Wes Bricker on building trust in capital markets, the top issues facing capital markets today, and the impact of changing expectations and technology on audits moving forward.