May 19, 2020

Africa's CFO of the future

South African construction industry
Construction Technology
Construction skills
Bizclik Editor
4 min
Africa's CFO of the future

The role of the Chief Financial Officer is a complex one, especially in today's financial market and economic climate. On top of managing risk, co-ordinating financial planning and reporting to higher management, the CFO has also been responsible for steadying the corporate ship during the global banking storm. However, with several companies and organisations facing administration or even liquidation, financial directors have an obligation to not only react when figures start to slide, but also plan and anticipate every possible monetary eventuality.


The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) certainly believes that the CFO of the future has several different roles and responsibilities. In its second research report in a series on The Chief Financial Officer of the Future, the SAICA sent a questionnaire to CFOs of the 40 largest companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The report focuses on 26 respondents who completed the questionnaire, evaluating and reflecting on their financial responsibilities since the global economic downturn.

In 2008, SAICA released a similar report which developed a model for the key focus areas of CFOs which indentified four roles; planner and strategist, compliance and transaction officer, growth and innovation catalyst, and corporate governance, citizenship and people manager.

Even in 2008, research conducted and written by Professor Thea Voogt at the University of Johannesburg said that "many books, journals and research reports have been published on the evolving role of the CFO, which has taken him/her from scorekeeper to strategist and business partner.”

In response to SAICA's 2010 survey, 64 percent of respondents believed that their role as CFO had changed due to the global financial crisis. Respondents also indentified that because of the economic downturn, their role as a planner and strategist had increased importance and would also be a key priority in three years time.


A planner and strategist must provide financial leadership through advanced preparation in line with the businesses plan or mission. Risk identification and assessment, project and contract management as well as budgeting and pricing evaluation are also key areas for strategic planning and leadership. However one respondent said that the “role of risk management seems to be underplayed in definitions”.

A separate report by CFO Research Service in 2008 documented the importance of risk management and revealed that senior finance executives’ greatest concerns included raising capital, executing long-term strategy and managing risk during the financial crisis.

In the report, 62 percent of respondents said that risk management practices at banks and other financial institutions were a major contributor to the crisis. Risk management was "one of the first-order issues to emerge from the crisis - on par with the most immediate funding problems that companies are currently experiencing," according to CFO Research.


While the negative side of the economic downturn is decreased financial strength and loss of turnover, the crisis has encouraged businesses to revaluate job roles in order to increase responsibility and operational focus.

“The company has clearly defined differentiation in the roles of CEO and CFO/COO, with the former focused on corporate governance, people, reputation and the risk and the latter focused on operational, finance, and growth. The two overlap in strategy, planning, growth and innovation,” said another interviewee.

SAICA’s report included respondents from some of South Africa’s biggest businesses including MTN Group, Tiger Brands, Sasol and BHP Billiton to name a few.


A competent, forward thinking CFO needs to be pro-active in their role, planning for every eventuality while constantly assessing the financial strength of a business.

Another respondent said: “The global financial crisis brought into sharp relief the key roles of compliance and risk but because our focus had strongly moved in this direction two years prior to the crisis, we have not had to make any significant adjustments to our focus.

“We continue to make improvements in these areas driven by our business strategy influenced by the crisis but not caused by it.”

Taking this response as an example of forward thinking, the role of the CFO is clearly constantly changing, however it is important for businesses to establish pro-active financial strategies in order to stay ahead and stay profitable.

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Jun 14, 2021

5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly

Kate Birch
3 min
Heading up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy is winning awards and leading with diversity

Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.

Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills. 

What do you do, in a nutshell?

I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.

How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?

I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.

They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?

The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless. 

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.


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