Finance Indaba 2018 Q&A: CaseWare's Jodi Joseph

CaseWare Africa's Jodi Joseph tells CFO SA about their offering, and the effects of digital transformation.

Q. Tell us a little about your background and career to date.

“I am a CA by training. I completed my articles in 1998, and then joined Investec Group SA in risk management. In early 2000, I moved with Investec to London where I was the CFO of Capital Markets, and later the COO of Capital Markets. I had a very good run while we built that business. Thereafter I moved back to South Africa, still with Investec, and I worked on the Basel II project before moving into private banking.”

“At that stage, I had three children and I wanted to make a move out of the listed environment. I moved to CQS who were the market leader in audit software and financial reporting software in South Africa at the time, using the CaseWare product. I joined them in January 2013 as the COO, working with Ross Hampton who had headed up the business for 20 years. I work closely with Ross for about five years, and was a key person in the team when we were bought by Adapt IT in 2016. Ross then moved to Caseware Canada, and I was promoted to the role of divisional executive. Having worked as Ross's ‘right hand’, across every part of the business, and given my financial experience, I think I am well positioned to look after our client base.”

Q. What is CaseWare’s offering and niche in the market?

“In the professional accounting market, we offer assurance software – from compilation engagements, independent review engagements, and for audits. We offer the full spectrum of assurance engagement software where we focus on delivering high compliance and high efficiency to enable our clients to run profitable businesses while delivering a quality product in terms of compliance and risk management for their clients. Our software really helps them achieve both these goals.” 

“For corporates and the public sector, we provide the flagship product to produce a set of financial statements in the most efficient and compliant way. We are always focused on this combination of efficiency and compliance. Plus, with the XBRL demand that has come into the market this year, this is seamlessly included in our offering which speaks directly to the more demanding landscape that all CFOs find themselves in.”

Q. How do you see tech transforming the finance function?

“My passion is driving the industry of finance into an exception-management industry, and away from a production-line industry. Traditionally, every piece of finance information had to be processed: someone had to capture the data, someone had to do a reconciliation, all those kind of things. But with the technology that is here today, you can enjoy higher automation and higher accuracy than ever before. This frees you up for topics that require your real focus, whether that is exceptions or areas where you must apply judgment.”

“The accounting and auditing profession still strikes me as far more paper-based than it needs to be, and we are seeing demand from clients for more online portals for them to offer their clients more of a self-service offering. Gone are the days where clients phone their accountant to send the latest financials. People want to be able to login at a time that suits them, even if their accountant’s offices are closed, and access their latest financials, tax clearance certificates, and the kind of things that you need to conduct business in real time. Business operates at a quicker pace. The turnaround time demand and expectations are greater.”

“Reporting demands have also changed vastly. The changed introduced by XBRL in the South African economy is going to be significant. It will lead to data analysis, and corporate failure prediction through data analysis. CIPC and the Officer of the Regulator will be acting proactively in the future, with far better insights using data. This will change the whole regulatory landscape. From there, we may see that information being shared directly with SARS. These things that were historically very separate, duplicate processes (with longer deadlines for compliance) will become quicker, more accurate, and more granular. The finance community will need to respond to that.

"In the longer term, we will see data-driven audits and artificial intelligence coming into play, which will again change the role of the CFOs.”

Q. How does CaseWare Africa prefer to manage their client relationships?

“We have a multi-pronged approach with external and internal sales people who manage these relationships. We have also both people-supported and technology-supported interactions. We have presence on all social media platforms, and a ‘success community’ where we provide a lot of material (such as manuals, user guides, and videos) as a self-service for our client base. We also offer a well-staffed and well-educated support desk, with telephonic, live chat, and email support. Additionally, we offer bespoke training designed specifically for client requirements. Client success is critical to our business, and we are very flexible in how we can help them. We believe that our variety and availability of services to support clients is both rich and diverse.”

Q. What are your expectations for the Finance Indaba 2018?

“When we attend events such as this, we are always looking to achieve several outcomes. Firstly, we want to network and interact with a lot of the delegates, to access the state of mind of these accounting professionals – what is worrying them, what is top of mind –  to keep our finger on the pulse of the finance community. We hope to provide insight and thought leadership during our presentation session.

"Of course, we like to attend some of the sessions and listen to speakers, and we always want to meet prospective new clients.”