Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 40, 2019

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. Zuckerberg Told Facebook Employees the Government Can't Break Up Big Tech for 1 Reason
Elizabeth Warren very much disagrees.

2. The Link Between Capital Structure and Financial Flexibility
A company’s capital structure — its ratio of debt to the sum of debt and equity market value — is important for assessing the organization’s financial flexibility and ability to access capital in the future. If the company has a high debt-to-equity ratio, for instance, it’s said to be highly leveraged and may have fewer opportunities to borrow funds to support innovation. The ratio also can influence investors’ decisions regarding the company.

3. Three Cornerstones of Global Retail Innovation
To the untrained eye or casual observer, the retail sector in recent years can seem like a blur of dizzying change. From experiential stores, virtual reality dressing rooms, voice commerce, anonymous shopping, to “online-native” brands opening brick and mortar shops, even pundits are finding it hard to keep up with innovations in the sector. But whatever guise it assumes, successful innovation is based on real needs or deep insight into human psychology – think smartphones, ride-hailing apps and social media.

4. What CFOs need to know to start AI deployment
PwC estimates that artificial intelligence (AI) could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030. In Singapore, 86% of the 150 CFOs recruitment agency Robert Half surveyed earlier this year indicated that they are implementing the technology or have plans to do so in the next 12 months. The benefits those CFOs expect AI to bring include increased efficiencies and productivity (50%), better decision-making capabilities (46%), and enhanced processes (44%), the company noted.

5. 5 Things Leaders Do That Stifle Innovation
In 2018, the U.S. slipped out of Bloomberg’s 10 most innovative countries for the first time. But this isn’t necessarily a hint of entrepreneurship’s demise; it’s a reflection of the tumultuous environment we find ourselves in — one that’s rife with unpredictability.

6. The analytics academy: Bridging the gap between human and artificial intelligence
As organizations rebuild their foundations to compete in the era of data and advanced analytics, in-house capability-building programs offer the best way to train workers up to the task.

7. Information About Differences Ultimately Leads to Profit 
In 1855, Napoleon III wanted to make the Exposition Universelle an event to rival London’s Great Exhibition. In addition to building an exhibition space to dwarf Crystal Palace, the last monarch of France asked for a ranking of Bordeaux’s most expensive (ergo best) wines. This established the different strata of châteaux, such as premier cru, deuxième cru and so on. With the Bordeaux Classification, we see an early example of industry classification that still reverberates today.

8. Planning for long-term growth in a volatile world
Rapid change is creating an ever-increasing array of challenges to building businesses that are profitable over the long term. These challenges (see the chart "Emerging Business Challenges and Their Impact on Planning") affect all operations but place particular pressure on business planning.

9. Fast and Easy G&A Cuts Won’t Cut It in the Next Downturn 
Following the last recession, functional leaders learned the hard way that it can take years to recover from deep cost reductions. More than half of executives who lead general and administrative (G&A) functions, including finance, expect a downturn this year or next, a new Bain & Company survey shows.

10. The chief risk officer in 2025 – the trends you need to know
Over the last decade, Chief Risk Officers (CROs) have become indispensable to executive teams. As traditional business models are disrupted, not least by globalisation and the march of technology, the need to manage risk appetites, develop effective risk frameworks and policies, and provide advice to boards and C-suite execs is higher than ever. However, this same landscape of change and disruption means that the CRO role is rapidly evolving. Essentially, as technologies and business models change, so do the associated risks and responsibilities.