The Finance Indaba Online taught CFOs how to win as the next generation of finance leaders.
During her keynote address at the recent Finance Indaba Online, Bongi Ngoma (featured), national head of audit at the Auditor General of South Africa, emphasised that where you come from as leaders is important, but where you are going is just as significant.
Bongi said a healthy nation is a wealthy nation, and that when finance professionals see the quality of basic services collapsing to embarrassing levels, they should have sleepless nights.
Supporting Bongi’s view, Vincent Motholo, CFO UCT and chairman of SAICA finance said that ethics or moral principles are what govern our behaviour in how we do things.
He pointed out that CFOs are central in any organisation because they are an enabler of many aspects of the business, and as a leader of finance it is important that they take a lead when it comes to ethics.
Mike Ngoma, director: financial services at Gauteng Department of Human Settlements, stressed that ethical leadership and good governance affect how institutions and organisations are managed and led.
He said the issues of integrity, transparency and accountability are crucial because they affect the public perception of organisations.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced leaders to do things differently. Rika Hopley, divisional CFO at Hollard Insure, said the company was forced to make operational changes, including providing laptops to staff so they could work from home and organising permits for those who would need to work from the office.
Tinyiko Sihlangu, CFO at Royal Bafokeng Holdings, said their focus shifted to ensuring their shareholders, being the community, received dividends for the whole year.
She added that the company had to relook at its budgets and income. “We had to look at whether our business is fit for purpose,” she said.
Its okay to make mistakes
Although ethics are meant to guide leaders, panellists and participants at the Indaba shared that it was acceptable to make mistakes.
Jubilant Speckman, CFO at Salungano Group (previously Wescoal), said that she made a few mistakes early on in her career, and some have been more monumental than others.
Buhle Hanise, CFO of BAIC SA, talked about leaving a company because of a strained relationship with a superior. Buhle’s advice was to focus and not be distracted to ensure that you know what your goals and dreams are.
Marlé van der Walt, FD at Investec Bank, mentioned Investec’s stellar results and added that it was a great achievement coming out of Covid-19. But it was not without struggles. She mentioned that there was a time that shareholders were unhappy with their decisions. And there were a couple of things that they did wrong.
CFOs should live up to ESG promises
The CFO leaders agreed that although it was acceptable to make mistakes, they should live up to their ESG promises.
Arno Daehnke, Group FD, Standard Bank told attendees that more often than not, organisations who are motivated by sustainability will most likely succeed compared to those that are not.
According to Rebecca Pole, FD, NEXTEC (EOH), while companies are concerned about their reporting, they are also made up of people.
“ESG is not just about driving profits, but to see what impact you’re having on society,” said Devrani Moonsamy, head of finance, the Competition Tribunal of South Africa.