Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 39


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. Why deep learning is changing your life
Over the past four years, readers have doubtlessly noticed quantum leaps in the quality of a wide range of everyday technologies. Most obviously, the speech-recognition functions on our smartphones work much better than they used to. We aren't connected to Amtrak or an angry ex. In fact, we are increasingly interacting with our computers by just talking to them, whether it's Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, or the many voice-responsive features of Google. Chinese search giant Baidu says customers have tripled their use of its speech interfaces in the past 18 months.

2. Why India Is Tech's Next Frontier
India is the world's fastest-growing major economy, yet only 34.8% of the country's 1.3 billion citizens uses the internet. And that's just one reason tech companies - both domestic and international - have set their sights on the subcontinent. When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a high-profile visit to Silicon Valley last year, he met with Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook FB 0.09% town hall; held private meetings with Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, and Satya Nadella; and addressed a sold-out crowd of 18,000 at a San Jose arena.

3. The Fintech Honeymoon Is Over — Now What?
Young fintech companies are facing a harsh new reality. After years of unbounded growth fueled by billions in venture capital, the market dynamics that made it all possible have changed. Two trends underscore this market recalibration. First, new fintech investments are tapering off as the broader funding market cools. Second, we're seeing banks, once flummoxed, finally starting to get the hang of digital innovation. To survive the down market will require upstarts to take a long, hard look at their business models and make key investments in these three areas: regulatory compliance, bank partnerships and excellent customer experiences.

4. What's more important: Technical ability or soft skills?
In a business world that's increasingly turning to technology for strategic insights, the skillsets that accounting and finance leaders need on their teams is changing. To capitalise on new tools, CFOs are finding that they need people who:
- Can use Big Data for predictive and prescriptive analytics.
- Are comfortable with digital, mobile, cloud, and software-as-a-service technologies.
- Have strong technological skills in the area of cybersecurity.
Finance leaders don't have the luxury of waiting to add these skills to their teams.

5. Every Manager Needs to Practice Two Types of Coaching
Performance reviews haven't disappeared quite yet. "Despite all the buzz about abolishing formal performance reviews, the vast majority of organizations continue to employ traditional vehicles for sharing performance-related information," reported a recent study by Human Resource Executive. A similar WorldatWork investigation, of practices like ratingless reviews and crowdsourced feedback, discovered that, in spite of all the chatter, these newfangled techniques are actually being used by only a fraction of large organizations.

6. 6 Ways to Cut Your Shipping Costs
Transportation costs are one of a company's major expenses. Depending on the type of industry, truck and parcel shipping payments can represent 5% to 10% of costs. Unfortunately, shipping pricing is extremely complex, with different classifications, numerous discounts, constantly changing fuel surcharges, and up to 150 different accessorial charges to track. In addition, millions of guaranteed UPS and FedEx shipments are delivered late. Unless you're checking the date of delivery against the guaranteed delivery date, you could be paying for shipments when you don't have to.

7. How digital finance could boost growth in emerging economies
Two billion individuals and 200 million micro, small, and midsize businesses in emerging economies today lack access to savings and credit. Even those with access must often pay high fees for a limited range of products. Economic growth suffers. But a solution is right in people's hands: a mobile phone. Digital finance—payments and financial services delivered via mobile phones and the Internet—could transform the lives and economic prospects of individuals, businesses, and governments across the developing world, boosting GDP and making the aspiration of financial inclusion a reality.

8. How To Trick Your Brain To Slow Down Time
"Where did the time go?" is a question we often ask ourselves. The average life span in the U.S. is 79 years, but some people do a lot more living than others while they're above ground—not in physical terms, of course, but in their minds. Famously, time flies when you're having fun. And it slows way down during moments of extreme experience. Movies love to capture the way everything goes into slow motion during a life-threatening event, but that isn't just a visual metaphor. Tennis great John McEnroe once described that phenomenon this way: "Things slow down, the ball seems a lot bigger, and you feel like you have more time."

9. 9 Things You Never See Successful People Do
It's fun to read lists of what makes successful people tick. Their morning rituals. Their habits. Their goal-setting routines. The things they do before calling it a day. What they eat for lunch. But sometimes, it's interesting to see what they don't do. In life, simplicity is more. Less is more. In that spirit, here are a few things to do less of, so that you can experience more success.

10. How to keep compliance and ethics on target
Compliance and ethics management can be a bit like exercise: Intentions may be good and you can put a plan into place, but your results won't be superb unless you continue to work at it with diligence. Just as many a well-intentioned fitness effort falls short, so too do those companies that approach compliance and ethics issues in unfocused, inefficient ways. There isn't much room for error, given the twin challenges of an increasingly complicated regulatory landscape and the heightened level of scrutiny from regulators.

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