How can the CFO avoid saying no in 2016?


With some questionable political decision making, a struggling national currency and sombre messages from rating agencies pouring in, South African businesses can be forgiven to be a bit apprehensive about 2016. In the middle of it all the CFO has shifted its role from number cruncher to business partner, but with pressure around slowing growth increasing there is the danger of reverting back to the old naysayer role. How does the CFO avoid saying no in 2016?

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Sasol CFO Bongani Nqwababa, who will start his new job as joint CEO of the oil firm later this year, dedicated his keynote speech on this very topic during a great CFO event at KPMG's Wanooka Place. "Get the basics right and get credibility," Nqwababa told the other CFOs. "Are you being invited to the table or do you demand to be there?" Here are two more quotes from a recent CFO Magazine interview with Bongani:

"I like being a business partner, not only to the CEO but also to Exco colleagues and the Board. The role of the CFO is converting strategy statements into value and deal with a multiplicity of internal and external stakeholders. Contrary to the image of the CFO role, I am yet to have a boring day."

"The CFO needs to be a trusted business partner or wingman, as the Amplats CEO used to call me. You need to support and not second guess each other. I work on building relationships with the CEO, but also with other colleagues. That means that when I raise difficult issues, it is because of the issues and not for any other reason. That is important."

During another 2015 CFO event, last year's CFO of the Year Deon Viljoen (Alexander Forbes), spoke about the modern CFO and emphasised that the often-used scale of progress for a CFO - from bean counter to process manager to business partner to value manager - is not path but an expansion of the role. "Even when you move further up the scale, you can never forget about the basics." He also urged CFOs to "try not to have the same crisis twice, but institutionalise the way you deal with it".

Great advice, no?

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