Oracle calls on CFOs to be change agents

Oracle's Naaliah Gora says that boards and CEOs require CFOs to be more analytical.

It is time for South Africa’s chief financial officers to change “the game” so they can be at the same standard as their global counterparts, Naailah Gora, senior applications consultant at Oracle said at the Finance Indaba Africa on 3 October.

“In this day and age you need to be a leading pillar to your companies. You need to move away from number crunching and into digital trends,” she said, speaking at the well-attended event. 

Chief financial officers need to move with the pace of time, Gora said, adding finance departments need to rethink their current models and change the game and make it much more agile.

About 30 percent of companies in South Africa support agility in their businesses, she said.

She urged chief financial officers to collaborate with each other and avoid working in silos.

This would allow for new opportunities in the market to be exploited, thereby increasing the profitability of the companies they work for, she continued.

Her statements are particularly relevant now in South Africa when the role of the chief executive officer as not only the driver of overall strategy but also of the company’s balance sheet and income statement, has come under the spotlight.

Internationally, the role of the chief financial officer has gradually changed over the past 10 years because of the 2007/2008 global financial crisis, the rise of big data and the influence of social and digital media.

Traditionally, their role entailed supervising, managing and engaging the work of the financial controller, credit manager and insurance manager, and duties including managing investments, analysing expenses and tracking regulatory trends.

All pretty challenging tasks in themselves but the expectations of the chief executive officer and indeed the board of directors of the chief financial officers require that the focus of the role will need to change.

About 42 percent of South Africans surveyed say chief financial officers need to be more analytical in this day and age, Gora said.

“Outdated systems have got to be ignored at all costs,” Gora said, adding that procure to pay in South Africa is one such system that needs to go because it takes a long time.