Five CFOs share the challenges and opportunities they are currently faced with

There is an opportunity for the private industry to invest in economic and infrastructure growth.

CFOs are faced with a lot of challenges in their careers and industries, especially with the current economic climate. They are also faced with many opportunities. 

We asked these five CFOs what obstacles they are faced with and what possibilities overcoming these hurdles can bring:

Letsema CFO Katlego Tlale said that one of the issues affecting pretty much all businesses in the South African landscape now is “How do you deal with the structural challenges that we have in the economy?” 

Secondly, he said the credibility and values of certain industries that Letsema are active in face substantial questions. “The consulting industry is faced with a number of tough questions about its role and position in society, and these are questions that require much consideration and thought.” 

He also said that the private sector is demanding. “They require us to sharpen our pencils and, in that process, the skills and competencies that we’ve been able to build out of our organisation over a period of time have 
been exceptional.” 

Verimark FD and 2020 CFO Awards nominee Bryan Groome said the retail industry is under pressure “especially the retailers who import and are experiencing the devaluation of the rand to foreign currencies”. 

He said that the industry continues to change and that it’s necessary to adapt to the ever-changing customer requirements. “There will always be challenges such as competition in the market as well as the fragmentation of the media which makes it harder to select and target the end consumer. The ever-changing retail market creates new opportunities, the digital retail space continues to grow and although not at international levels, provides a great opportunity for the retail market.” 

New Development Bank CFO Leslie Maasdorp said the opportunities are massive because all the bank’s member countries are still rapidly urbanising, so there’s an urgent need to upgrade existing infrastructure and build new ports, rail, roads, bridges and power stations. 

He said there is also a significant opportunity today to crowd in more private capital into infrastructure.

The Department of Public Service and Administration CFO Masilo Makhura said the challenge he is faced with is to ensure the prevention of corruption in the public sector and that there is no wastage of public funds by officials. 

His other challenge is to ensure that everybody in the department complies with all legislative requirements relating to financial and SCM matters. “In this economic climate, I need to safeguard that the limited budget allocated to the department is utilised effectively and efficiently, and guarantee that austerity measures introduced by National Treasury are implemented fully to save unnecessary costs and wastage.”

“Vitality, we are part of the group’s operations, and are involved in every company,” Discovery Vitality CFO Senele Mbatha (pictured) said. “If Discovery launches a bank, we support that. So there’s a lot of opportunity for us.”

He adds that, like all companies in South Africa, though, Vitality is dealing with the fact that the economy isn’t growing as it should be, and customers are expecting more. “So we need to be slick, efficient, smart and relevant. That will continue to be a challenge going forward – being asked to do more with less – until the economy starts to grow.”