Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 49, 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. Want More Creative Breakthroughs? Slow Down
Many years ago, the CEO of a conglomerate asked me to sit in an executive meeting to observe the team dynamics. What surprised me during this meeting was the absence of decisions, even though various issues were discussed at length. When I mentioned it to the CEO, he said that the team would take decisions the next day. He had discovered that decision quality was much better when everyone had had the chance to sleep on it.

2. Redefining the role of the leader in the reskilling era
Continuous learning in the workplace must become the new norm if individuals and organizations want to stay ahead. This places more demand than ever on leaders to take on a new role they might initially find unfamiliar—that of learning facilitator-in-chief.

3. True lessons about failure from the best business satire ever written
Thirty years ago, as a young reporter in Los Angeles, I wrote about the rise and fall of a teenager named Barry Minkow, who’d built a carpet-cleaning shell business into a public company with a market capitalization exceeding US$200 million. That’s nearly half a billion dollars in today’s money. Minkow’s brazen fraud sounds stranger than fiction — but it’s not, because in 1975, William Gaddis published a much lauded (though little read) novel with a story just as strange. The tale revolves around a fictional 11-year-old tycoon by the name of J.R. Vansant, whose jerry-built business empire collapses on most of the other characters.

4. Prorating over time in Excel
It’s not pretty to model staff costs in a spreadsheet, but it can be done with formulas that are not nearly as complex as they look. Here’s a common problem in financial modelling. Costs (or revenues for that matter) and reporting dates seldom coincide. And that causes problems.

5. Apple Is Bringing 5G to the iPhone. Here's Why That Could Be Worth $100 Billion Next Year
For many people, a 5G iPhone is sort of the holy grail of smartphones. It's highly sought-after but inaccessible--almost mythical among die-hard Apple fans. As other manufacturers have released high-end versions of their flagship devices with 5G capabilities, Apple has waited.

6. These 6 Mistakes Can Undermine Your Leadership
Whether you're a seasoned vet or a newbie, making a mistake as a leader is inevitable. But what separates a great leader from a dysfunctional one is self-awareness, or the ability to identify, learn and grow from our strengths and weaknesses. Leaders who remain self-aware avoid repeating their mistakes, becoming more effective leaders.  In the daily hustle and bustle, though, it's easy to overlook the leadership mistakes you've made. Here are six of the most common I've noticed throughout my career -- and how you can avoid making them yourself.

7. Survey: How agile is your finance department?
Effective transformation, including growth through new digital products and services, can only happen if one key ingredient is in place: organisational agility – but how agile is your organisation? Take our survey to find out.

8. The State of Sustainability
Growing concerns about climate change and workers’ rights – among other issues, are quickly eroding the primacy of shareholder value (first advocated in 1930 and popularized by Milton Friedman in 1970) in favor of stakeholder value (Business Roundtable August 2019).  Accordingly, the movement for increased ESG reporting has reached its tipping point, which was a key theme among presenters at this year’s SASB Symposium: Moving the Market.

9. Directors’ duties and climate change: sustainable practices
Greta Thunberg’s appearance in front of the United Nations in New York. Extinction Rebellion on the streets. Storm devastation across The Bahamas and cancelled Rugby World Cup matches in Japan. Environmental impact often tops the media agenda and, in recent years, we have observed deeper convergence between corporate responsibility and environmental issues.

10. 10 principles for leadership presence
As a leader or aspiring leader at any level, one of the biggest challenges you face is to inspire and motivate other people so that they can take the right actions on behalf of themselves and the group — that is, to have impact. That’s why you want to be a leader with a strong presence not just at conferences, but in every interaction. And if you are such a leader, then every aspect of your presence — including your physical self, your intellect, your voice, and your emotions — is intimately bound up with your message.