Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 2, 2019

Want to keep up to date with the latest developments in finance, but 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. Steve Jobs Said 1 Thing Separates Successful People From Everyone Else (and Will Make All the Difference In Your Life)
Steve Jobs had extremely high expectations. He challenged himself  and the people around him to work smarter, work longer, and work harder so he, and they, could accomplish everything they dreamed possible. Jobs believed in the power of asking. Jobs believed the future was something we can all make our mark upon. 

2. A Finance Chief’s Practical View of Robotics and AI
Discussion around the impact of intelligent automation often centers on what it means for consumers, or its implications for the workplace and the changing nature of jobs. But what does it mean in practice for finance professionals? As the CFO of an S&P 500 company with more than three decades of finance and business experience, I find that the aspect of robotics and artificial intelligence that has most surprised me is the extent to which we have come to implement these technologies in corporate finance.

3. M&A Didn’t Add Value in 2018. How About 2019?
As we reported in December, the volume of mergers and acquisitions activity rose in 2018 and is expected to grow further this year. That does not mean, however, that deals were successful last year or necessarily will be in 2019. The global M&A market is struggling to add value, and the post-deal performance of buyers has steadily declined since a 2015 peak, according to data compiled by Willis Towers Watson (WTW) and the University of London’s Cass Business School.

4. 4 reasons leaders should be able to do any job at the company (even the entry level ones)
When people think of leaders who carry the illustrious title of CEO, they might envision someone who sits in a plush office all day, looks out of a big window, and has a personal assistant to bring them coffee. (By the way, did you say you wanted that with sugar and cream, or just hot and gently stirred?)

5. The five trademarks of agile organizations
This article was written collaboratively by the McKinsey Agile Tribe, a group of over 50 global colleagues bringing expertise from the digital, operations, marketing, and organisation disciplines. They integrate their deep experience and thought leadership to extract the best from McKinsey’s global experience as it helps organisations transform themselves into agile organisations.

6. How absolute zero (-based budgeting) can heat up growth
Your company needs growth. You’ll need resources to fund it. But with margins chronically tight, where can you turn? The go-to strategy: making the margins wider by cutting costs. The CFO sends out targets, the organisation meets them (more or less), and margins duly widen. For a while. But not necessarily for long.

7. Why Most Performance Evaluations Are Biased, and How to Fix Them
Underlying this process is the belief that by reflecting on people’s performance and codifying it in an evaluation form, we will be able to assess their merits objectively, give out rewards fairly, and offer useful feedback to help them develop in the next year. But while we may strive to be as meritocratic as possible, our assessments are imperfect and all too often biased.

8. Will Apple Be the Next Nokia?
When Apple cut its revenue forecast for the first time in 16 years at the beginning of January, this unleashed a flurry of speculation and doubt as some observers wondered whether Apple was now in danger of following Nokia. I doubt Apple executives need to be unduly concerned with this risk now. In fact, Steve Jobs’s reaction to a journalist probing him about his strategy in the 1990s, shortly after he had reassumed the leadership of Apple and drastically pruned its product line, comes to mind: “I am going to wait for the next big thing”. This may also fit the current situation.

9. Nonfinancial reporting: The big debate
The question of whether corporate reporting on nonfinancial matters should be mandatory has been brought into sharp focus in the past decade since the global financial crisis. There is also the question of who should take responsibility for setting the standards. The issue emerged in December in a debate run by the Oxford Saïd Business School in the Oxford Union chamber in central Oxford in the UK.

10. Finance as a Force for Good
Sustainable investing, previously a niche specialisation, has become increasingly commonplace in recent years. Globally, more than a quarter of professionally managed assets are now invested according to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles. In addition, many mainstream financial institutions are publicly committing to sustainable investing as the way forward. Investors can choose from a wide range of sustainable products and funds and are increasingly able to monitor the sustainability of their investments, even those without a “sustainable” label.