Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 38, 2018

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. Things are looking up with this Excel function
LOOKUP requires the data to be ‘looked up’ to be in ascending order, but it doesn’t have to be strict ascending order. For example, the sequence 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 77, 77, 78 would be fine. It then hunts out the largest value less than or equal to what it is looking for. So with duplicates, this means the final occurrence of the value, which can be really useful when grouping periods in modelling. In fact, LOOKUP is often the optimal function to use when you are looking up dates, as they are always in ascending order.

2. Biggest Email Mistake You Can Make (and We're All Guilty)
In a recent interview with CNBC's Adam Bryant, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner shared his thoughts on a variety of business topics, including what he's learned about email over the years. In doing so, he called out the practice that stands out as the single biggest mistake people make in email: Writing too much.

3. Innovation Should Be a Top Priority for Boards. So Why Isn’t It?
Corporate directors and executives alike recognize that today’s pace of change continues to accelerate and that firms need to innovate to stay ahead. But are boards doing enough to support innovation, as they should? We conducted a survey of over 5,000 board members from around the world to find out. We found that, overall, innovation does not rank as a top strategic challenge for the majority of boards. Although directors in certain industries are more aware of the threat of disruption, the widespread lack of board-level engagement in innovation processes could be a major blind spot and a potential liability.

4. Psychologists Have Finally Discovered 4 Research-Backed Personality Types
Thanks to social media and the insatiable human thirst for distracting quizzes, these days it's perfectly possible to get 1.5 million people to take a research-validated personality test, generating a massive data set. When the researchers sifted through the data, they found some people are indeed personality unicorns -- strange and beautiful unto themselves and not much like any significant group of others -- but most of us cluster into just four distinct groups. 

5. Five Ways Finance And Accounting Leaders Can Foster Greater Engagement
In every corporate office, we pass through the halls and usually find that the department with less interaction, longer hours and lower engagement is the finance and accounting (F&A) department. We tend to hear the outdated clichés of “it comes with the job” and “accounting will always be mundane.” Well, based on my professional experience, I can tell you that it is neither.

6. A 6-Part Tool for Ranking and Assessing Risks
One of the most overused expressions thrown around by wannabe “Wall Street Rambos” is business is war. But sometimes war tactics really can help in business. Among these tactics is CARVER, a system for assessing and ranking threats and opportunities. Developed during World War II, CARVER (then one letter shorter and known as CARVE) was originally used by analysts to determine where bomber pilots could most effectively drop their munitions on enemy targets. It can be both offensive and defensive…….

7. Institutional Investors Put Private CFOs in the Public Eye
In 1996, more than 7,400 companies were listed on the major U.S. stock exchanges; today the number is less than half of that. There are many reasons for the decline, but among the more consequential is the emergence of crossover investing. Crossovers are traditional institutional investors that also invest in private start-ups. Their growing interest in accessing pre-public equity is fostering a new “gray market” that blurs the line between public and private status. To a degree, the private markets are cannibalizing the public markets. 

8. How to Be a Freelancer and Not End Up Homeless
Freelancing isn't for everyone. If you're dying to start a real business--meaning one with employees, products, and investors and a big-money exit strategy, freelancing is going to seem second best. On the other hand, unlike businesses, freelancing has a very low startup cost, gives you maximum control over your life, has the same (or better) tax breaks, and is far less time-consuming than trying to be a full-on entrepreneur.

9. The Real Story Behind Uber’s Exit from Southeast Asia
Since Uber, the first car-hailing app, began disrupting taxi and transport services around the world, Southeast Asian rivals such as Grab and Go-Jek have risen to compete with it. In March this year, Uber announced that it was selling its Southeast Asia business to Grab. On the surface it looked like Grab won and Uber lost, and that a fierce rivalry would emerge between Grab and Go-Jek, Indonesia’s first unicorn. My new case study, “Grab vs. Uber vs. Go-Jek”, delves deeper into this story.

10. The Bright Side of Busyness
Most people feel terribly busy every day. Work just keeps piling up, the kids need to be chauffeured to their after-school activities, inboxes are overflowing and your parents are coming over for the weekend. You wish that life would slow down, but what if there was a silver lining to all this busyness? The truth is, there is a good reason why so few people ever tame their busy lives. In many societies, busyness is a badge of honour worn with pride. Feeling in demand makes people feel good about themselves. It boosts self-image.