Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 48


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. CFOs' Top Goal for 2017: Better Analysis and Reporting
Modern CFOs are transforming from backroom accountants into boardroom advisers and say improving reporting and analysis functions in 2017 is a top improvement goal, according to a new survey by the consulting firm Kaufman Hall. More than 70% of over 380 finance executives polled say supporting decision-making is their number-one goal for 2017, a divergence from the more traditional finance and accounting roles. Over 90% say they need to do more with the financial and operations data at hand to help top management make critical decisions.

2. Using agile to accelerate your data transformation
Indeed, companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to transform their data-related IT infrastructures and processes. But for most, the benefits of doing so have been limited to discrete areas of operation. Data-migration solutions created for specific business units or functional areas—such as the ad hoc repositories built for financial or administrative data—have been difficult to replicate company-wide because there is no end-to-end logic or central governance associated with them. Critical business information remains trapped in isolated systems.

3. Recruiting for Next-Generation Finance Skills
The recruiting wish list for today's corporate finance professional has fundamentally changed. The long list of credentials with top-ranked schools and companies and the connections to industry groups and peers—once the tried and true measures of candidate suitability—have taken a back-seat to highly specialized skills and technology expertise in areas like big data and cognitive computing. These criteria didn't even exist five years ago and don't really shine through on a résumé.

4. The Ultimate Soft Skills Of Truly Successful People
Colleges and job training programs tend to focus on the hard skills you need for a particular career — how to use specific tools and programs, the knowledge needed to complete your tasks — but there are other skills, so-called "soft" skills that are perhaps even more important for a truly successful career. In fact, there's nothing soft at all about soft skills; they can be difficult to master, but if you do, you'll be employable in practically any field. No matter what your industry, position, or current employment, the following seven skills are vital to success in any chosen field.

5. Five Scientific Reasons Why So Many Productivity Hacks Fail
Stop trying to rewire human behaviors and focus instead on the environments where they play out. As the chief scientist at a Fortune 25 health care company, it was my job to put behavioral science to good use in the workplace. For a number of reasons, that was easier said than done. In my experience, there are a few reasons why improving human behavior is so difficult. No matter what productivity fix you you personally or your company tries to implement, these are some of the obstacles you're likely to run up against. Getting past them, though, starts with knowing what they are.

6. What makes a CFO great
Corporate finance leaders face four main challenges. Tackling them will allow CFOs to shape strategy and drive innovation necessary for sustainable growth, but it will also rapidly expand their role, EY research suggests. A majority of finance leaders said they are increasingly expected to have digital know-how, use data analytics, and manage risks. They also have to deal more with shareholders and regulators than before, according to a global EY survey of more than 750 finance leaders.

7. Bracing for seven critical changes as fintech matures
The fintech sector is being shaped by shifting market conditions, new regulations, and changes in consumer demands and behaviors. For the past decade, fintech companies—technology firms that focus on financial products and services—have moved quickly, forcing incumbents to rethink their core business models and embrace digital innovations. But now, the fintech industry is itself maturing and entering a period of rapid change. Companies wondering how they will fit into this new era must first understand the forces that are pushing the changes.

8. Metric of the Month: Personnel Cost Errors
When forecasting how much a company will need to spend on labor, precision is vital. If CFOs get the personnel cost forecast wrong, the ripple effect is felt throughout the organization. Nobody feels it more than business-unit managers, who must find a way to get the work done when recruitment and staffing allocations don't match up with demand. Knowing the damage that weak personnel forecasting can do, more CFOs today are saying they hope to use predictive analysis to anticipate fluctuations in customer demand, revenue flows, and related costs over time. But how many CFOs can claim a measure of precision at the moment?

9. Harness your emotions for peak performance
Leaders can improve their decision-making ability in high-pressure situations, and help their teams become more productive, by gaining a better awareness of their feelings.
Corporate salaries and executive performance bonuses are usually tied to what is delivered. And, on one level, that makes sense. After all, as the saying goes, you can only manage what you can measure. But it's harder to measure the quality of leadership without some means of quantifying it.

10. The Top 15 Companies of 2016
The competition for Inc. magazine's 2016 Company of the Year was intense. But, as the title indicates, there can be only one. Here are 14 companies that went up against this year's winner: Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill's Riot Games.

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