Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 9, 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. Why CFOs are embracing technology as never before
A new generation of tech-savvy CFOs is helping businesses better understand and integrate technology into their operations. It's another evolutionary step for CFOs. Finance chiefs were once more focused on back-office operations. Slowly, they began to take on more responsibility, such as oversight of information technology, which included systems and cybersecurity knowledge. Today's top CFOs are thinking about technology in a more strategic, external sense. You can't really separate the technology conversation from the business conversation today.

2. Work Like Obama - Management Secrets from the World's Toughest Job
Based on the photos of Obama kite boarding off the coast of billionaire Richard Branson's private island in the Caribbean, few of us will ever have the chance to vacation like our former president. But by examining the daily habits he developed over his eight years in one of the most intense working environments in the world, we can all learn how to work like Obama.

3. Great Companies Obsess Over Productivity, Not Efficiency
Business leaders often think of "efficiency" and "productivity" as synonyms, two sides of the same coin. When it comes to strategy, however, efficiency and productivity are very different. At a time when so many companies are starved for growth, senior leaders must bring a productivity mindset to their business and remove organizational obstacles to workforce productivity. This view differs substantially from the relentless focus on efficiency that has characterized management thinking for most of the last three decades, but it is absolutely essential if companies are going to spur innovation and reignite profitable growth.

Let me explain...

4. Modern slavery: Hidden risks to look for in your supply chain
Modern slavery is generally perceived as something that occurs in emerging economies. But it happens in established economies, too. There are an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 victims of trafficking and forced labour in the UK, for instance, according to government research conducted in 2013. "It can be prevalent in anybody's supply chain in any type of business," said Mark Heath, head of business change and development at the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), a public body that regulates the supply of temporary labour into the fresh produce sector in Britain.

5. The Right Way to Start a Meeting
We all know there's a price to pay for a making bad first impression: A limp handshake conveys low confidence; a wrinkled suit makes you seem lazy; oversharing comes across as emotional instability. But do you ever think about the first impression your meetings make? Frequently restarting meetings for stragglers sends the message that participants have more control than you do. Issues opened for discussion with no clear purpose get hijacked by participants with a clearer agenda than yours. Monologues validate everyone's fears that your meeting is going to be about as valuable (and as scintillating) as watching an hour of C-SPAN.

6. Six steps to maximise your sale value
Selling a business can be a hugely stressful time. Joe Stelzer, managing partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance outlines how to create a smooth sales process and secure the best possible valuation. Step 1 is strengthen financial controls. This will allow you to spot important issues to address, ensuring you secure the best price on sale.

7. Data analytics: New ways for internal auditors to apply their skills
Changes inherent to big data and data analytics have many chief audit executives (CAEs) around the world asking what internal auditors of the future will look like: Will they be accountants, mathematicians, or data analysts? Most likely it will be a person who has analytical, technical, and data skills, as well as business acumen, presentation skills, and project management capabilities, said Neil White, Deloitte's global internal audit analytics leader. "That doesn't necessarily need to sit in one person. It could be spread across multiple people within a group."

8. The CFOs Who Wouldn't Be King
Chief financial officers in the United States are feeling wildly optimistic about the country's economic prospects, guardedly optimistic about their company's prospects, and not very optimistic at all—in fact, for the most part, downright pessimistic—about the prospects for their own career advancement. Those are among the findings of the latest Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook survey, which drew responses from nearly 1,000 senior finance executives worldwide.

9. Data Analytics Adopters Brave Obstacles
"Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway," Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, wrote. Certainly, many CFOs, and not just those with web-based businesses, would wholeheartedly agree: data is the sensory information produced by a business that has its eyes and ears on operations and customers. Analytics is the brain that processes the information and provides insight, which ideally leads a company to take meaningful action.

10. 10 Horrible Leadership Habits You Need to Get Rid Of
The horrible leadership behaviors I'm about to expound on are not mere platitudes or hackneyed clichés. They remain, unfortunately, characteristics of well-meaning people on high perches who have blind spots that keep them from growing into true leaders. In the list below, you'll note the first item is unique from the other nine. In a cultural or systemic context, it certainly is "horrible" and needs to stop. The rest point to an assortment of individual and team-leadership frightfulness that should make your hair stand up. Without further ado, I unleash leadership (or lack thereof) truth.