Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 36, 2020

Want to stay up to date with the latest developments in finance, but short on time? Don't worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. The pandemic's effect on CFO tenure
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shifted the role and the path of CFOs, and experts say more change is on the way. Those accustomed to focusing on budgets and forecasts are increasingly asked to think more strategically and display strong management skills. “It’s a ton of pressure,” said Beau Lambert, a senior client partner for global consulting firm Korn Ferry.

2. Work-From-Anywhere Future Exposes Holes in Operational Strategy
With work-from-anywhere likely to become the norm, many companies are struggling with how to maintain continuity, encourage collaboration, and maintain their cultures in a dispersed work environment. Citing challenges ranging from training and professional development to loss of spontaneity and erosion of corporate culture, some companies are even starting to push back on the idea that large-scale remote work is a good idea. 

3. Richard Branson Thinks Everyone Should Read This Book Right Now
Besieged by a deadly virus and its economic fallout, struggling with a racial reckoning, and watching huge sections of countries burn thanks to climate change, it's hard not to feel dispirited and exhausted. The only thing that can give us the energy to confront these horrors is hope that they can be overcome. Where do you find that hope?  Richard Branson has a suggestion in the form of a book recommendation. 

4. How to use Excel Power Query's best feature
We’ve covered various aspects of Excel Power Query the past two months, showing how it transforms data and can help with bank reconciliations. Those are great, but I’ve saved the best for the last of our three-part Power Query series.

5. Business Optimism Rebounds From Virus Shock
U.S. business executives are feeling a bit better about their companies’ prospects but are still deeply concerned about the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

6. Do You Have the Right Sales Channels for a Downturn?
Major economic downturns hit most companies. And manufacturers who sell to their customers through channel partners, such as retailers or value-added resellers, face additional challenges. Under-capitalized partners may be unable to get products to customers — or worse, could go bust.  With the current pandemic, the situation appears dire, with even more bankruptcies predicted than occurred during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

7. Worried about a colleague's mental wellbeing?
While governments around the world work to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, health professionals are warning of a simmering mental health crisis. The pandemic has induced prolonged fear and anxiety, which for many has been exacerbated by the loneliness and isolation of lockdowns. For people with existing mental health challenges, such as depression, today's climate of uncertainty can be especially fraught.

8. How Boards Can Plan for the Disasters That No One Wants to Think About
It’s tempting to call the Covid-19 pandemic a black swan — an event so unexpected and devastating that companies could not have prepared for it. But experts have been predicting global pandemics for years, and in January 2020, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report cited infectious diseases as a potential threat. Yet very few companies included a global pandemic in their highest risk categories.

9. Reconceiving Innovation for Covid-19
For certain firms, Covid-19 has infused new meaning into the old cliché that a crisis is just an opportunity in disguise. Before the pandemic, digital companies such as Amazon and Zoom were competing not only with incumbents but also with conventions that refused to die, such as the handshake and the clearance sale. Now, Covid-19 has disrupted the old ways, leaving these already cutting-edge firms with even less competition and much more freedom to innovate. No wonder Amazon has hired 175,000 frontline workers as it gears up for massive growth.

10. The Central Conundrum of Covid-19 Entrepreneurship
To get to the top and remain there, businesses must constantly develop new capabilities as they leverage existing ones. Keeping both priorities in play is tricky in the best of times, which is why legacy companies of late have been increasingly outsourcing innovation to tech start-ups via partnerships or outright acquisitions, a trend that has generated tremendous value for start-ups and their investors.