Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 29, 2019

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. Google Can Spot Its Highest-Empathy Leaders In 5 Minutes With These 16 Questions
Google has perfected the use of data to help illuminate people dynamics. It tried to prove managers don't matter and instead found 10 traits of the very best ones. It spent two years studying 180 teams to discern what makes the most effective teams.

2. Asia’s future is now
One of the most dramatic developments of the past 30 years has been emerging Asia’s soaring consumption and its integration into global flows of trade, capital, talent, and innovation. In the decades ahead, Asia’s economies will go from participating in these flows to determining their shape and direction. Indeed, in many areas—from the internet to trade and luxury goods—they already are. The question is no longer how quickly Asia will rise; it is how Asia will lead.

3. Y Combinator Accelerates the Hunt for Unicorns
Last summer, Y Combinator (YC), the original start-up accelerator that has invested in more than 2,000 fledgling firms with a combined value of US$150 billion, sent acceptance emails to 11,000 of 15,000 applicants to its Startup School instead of the estimated 4,000 originally intended. Rather than jettisoning the surplus applicants, the company that nurtured the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit and Quora decided to keep everyone on board.

4. Expect these HR expenses to rise
The past few years have been a period of transition for human resources departments as tight labour markets mean training and recruitment costs are taking up an increasing share of finance department budgets, and this year is unlikely to be an exception. So where are CFOs likely to see the biggest spike in costs?

5. 5 Steps for Tying Executive Compensation to Sustainability
The final link in the chain of improving corporate accountability for sustainability is to tie improvements to pay. Companies should use incentives to motivate executives to tap big strategic opportunities related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. How should these incentives should be designed. What implementation steps do you take? And how can you overcome the challenges that deter executives and directors from changing how company incentives have traditionally been designed?

6. How to manage email so that it doesn’t control you
Our compulsion to email is a regular feature of modern life. The average office worker receives 126 messages a day, devotes 28 percent of their week to emails, is interrupted 11 times per hour, and opens emails within six seconds of notification. No matter how you slice it, the data is scary.

7. Accelerating the Close Cycle to Make Finance More Strategic
Many finance teams are still bogged down with fundamental processes for financial consolidation, account reconciliations and reporting. The month-end financial close, for example, takes 10 business days or longer for 25 percent of the companies responding in the APQC General Accounting Open Standards Benchmarking survey. Half a month to close out each month!

8. In Today’s Volatile Economy, Rolling Forecasts Take the Guess out of Guesswork
I speak to many CFOs who assure me that rolling forecasts aren’t necessary for their organizations. They update their plans when their actuals come in each month, which negates the need for full-blown forecasts every few months. I would agree, if it were possible to predict with 100% certainty what the future will look like. But we can’t. Not even the top economists can do that. 

9. The World’s Most Valuable Soccer Teams 2019
It's still raining money for the world's most valuable soccer teams because they attract an incredible number of fans inside stadiums and in front of televisions, particularly for the Champions League. Sponsors salivate, paying more and more money to attach themselves to these teams, knowing their players are global billboards whose likenesses are embedded in the hearts and minds of billions.

10. 10 Steps to Effective Finance Staff Meetings
A high-functioning team needs to have a weekly meeting to make sure it stays on track with goals. That goes for finance, the company leadership team, the HR team, or any part of the company. Once finance leaders understand how to make these meetings better in their own area, they can be heroes and teach everyone else how to be more productive and solve problems fast.