Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 44, 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. A conversation about the future of Asia (podcast)
Wonsik Choi is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Seoul office, Oliver Tonby is a senior partner in the Singapore office, and Jonathan Woetzel is a senior partner in the Shanghai office. Simon London, a member of McKinsey Publishing, is based in the Silicon Valley office. 

2. The Two Faces of Private Equity
The story of private equity is really two stories. One is about PE firms investing in and enhancing the value of their portfolio companies. The other is about slashing expenses to the bone in the quest for a bottom line that may appeal to certain gullible potential acquirers. Both are abundantly true stories. While it’s an eminently viable asset class, private equity suffers from an identity crisis caused by frequent missteps.

3. Why Are We Here?
Over the past decade, “purpose” has become a management watchword. Since 2010 it has appeared in the titles of more than 400 new business and leadership books and thousands of articles. And no wonder: Many people—not just Millennials—want to work for organizations whose missions and business philosophies resonate with them intellectually and emotionally.

4. 4 Tips on How to Make Board Meetings Less Stressful and More Productive, From an Actual Board Member and CEO
Bringing your company's most trusted advisers together should not be cause for panic. Follow these four tried-and-true tips to make your meetings one of your greatest assets.

5. How does a finance team build a strategy around AI?
As Artificial Intelligence (AI) gains momentum and becomes more sophisticated, it will change the financial world and how finance teams work. AI is a broad term, so understanding how it slots into financial technology and the role of automation is important when planning an AI strategy that is fit for the future.

6. How to Cultivate Cross-Silo Leadership
How HR managers can look for, develop and reinforce certain behaviours to break down barriers within their organisations. HR managers who strive to identify and cultivate the best talent for their firms understand certain truisms. They know that hiring can’t be done by a bot, that there is a human aspect to finding the right fit for a particular team, and that there is great value in working across divides, be they cultural or functional.

7. Climate-related reporting frameworks highly aligned
With rising interest in climate change and its impact on businesses, organisations globally have been examining sustainability reporting standards and frameworks that will best articulate their climate-related risks and strategies to stakeholders. However, a nagging question remains: Which is the best standard or framework to use?

8. Are Venture Capitalists Hopelessly Biased, or Deceptively Rational?
No matter how rational we may claim or want to be, no human being is entirely free of bias. The challenge is to be aware of one’s own bias – or, failing that, to design processes that mitigate bias – so that objective considerations can prevail. This challenge becomes especially pertinent in a field such as venture capital, where intrinsic uncertainty renders decision makers particularly prone to irrational influences.

9. California Destroys $1 Trillion Gig Economy With New Law
California isn’t shy when it comes to making the daily headlines. Often heralded as a progressive utopia, the Golden State recently signed into law Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which will change the landscape of the gig worker economy. Stemming from the groundbreaking court decision established in Dynamex West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, the California Supreme Court found Dynamex’s workers were misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees.

10. Cloud-based accounting and African SME growth
For many small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in African economies, accounting and financial management has been an isolated function — with management accountants fulfilling a very important role. In most scenarios, the SME accounting role has been limited to laborious data capture and annual meetings between the accountant and business owner to hand over reports and financial statements.