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How Can We Help? Top CFO Strategic Priorities for 2024



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    Attending the Finance Leaders Conference in November 2023 shed light on the CFO’s top strategic priorities for 2024, as identified in the Deloitte SA CFO Survey H1 2023. These priorities, in order of significance, are cost optimisation, better cashflow management, and digitalisation. In our next article, we will address other priority areas for the CFO which include strategic risk management, sustainable finance, talent management, strategic partnerships, and customer-centric financial strategies. In this article, we will unpack the first three priority areas in greater detail:

    Cost Management

    Cost optimisation takes centre stage in the face of a challenging economic environment marked by high interest rates, volatile currency fluctuations, inflation, and local port-related challenges which affect the availability and cost of critical inputs and products required for local business operations and hamper exports.

    Strategically focusing on reducing operating expenditure may be the lowest hanging fruit for a business trying to optimise business financial performance, as strategic initiatives and efforts to grow existing markets and innovate through new or enhanced products or services may take time to implement while revenues remain unchanged or worse yet decrease due to competitive forces. Interestingly, introducing new products and services was rated 8th as a CFO strategic priority area for 2024 in the same survey referenced above.

    So, what are the key operating expenditures for your business and are there any opportunities to operate in a more cost-effective manner? 

    The key business expenses could be salaries and wages, procurement, logistics, interest, rent for office space, or travel costs for example. Are there opportunities to re-negotiate pricing and terms with current suppliers, remaining cognisant of existing contractual commitments, as well as go to market and find more cost-effective alternatives as required? 

    Better Cashflow Management

    Cash is king and continues to be. The better able you are to manage your cashflow, the better your business will be, especially in a challenging economic environment.

    Maintaining a liquid business, that is a business that can use its short-term assets (which include cash), to pay for its short-term liabilities as they fall due, is becoming increasingly challenging not only for small businesses but larger ones as well. Chronic repetitive liquidity crises are a big red flag for a business of any size. So, keep a finger on the cashflow pulse by leveraging real-time cashflow dashboards and incorporating cashflow forecasting for upcoming commitments. Be proactive and communicate openly with key suppliers, rather than avoiding them, if payments are going to be delayed. The cash operating cycle should therefore be managed efficiently and effectively.

    Is cashflow management a priority for your business and do you have the right tools to enable you to improve your cashflow management capabilities and build cash reserves to enhance financial resilience?

    Digitalisation

    Manual and paper-based processes (eg supplier and bank reconciliations), high volume of data, inconsistent processes, supporting documentation which is difficult to retrieve efficiently when required or cannot be located at all. Does any of this sound familiar? These are some common recuring challenges which may signal the need for finance automation.

    Automation can perform more of the day-to-day accounting tasks, and free up your team so they can spend more time on critical financial analysis to augment business strategy (eg supply chain practices), strategic thinking, innovation projects and enhanced forecasting and planning. New technologies such as AI and machine learning will enable the finance function to deliver more value to the business. Automation makes it easy to leverage data analytics to drive productivity in the finance function and real -time data and dashboards to support operational and performance improvements across the business. 

    It is the CFO (or Chief Value Officer) and not the CIO who is driving the digital transformation agenda. Emerging financial management technology really is key to the success of the finance team, and that of the business in general.

    How are you progressing with your finance automation journey, and is it unlocking value for your business?

    At Sapientis Advisory, we partner with our clients to enhance financial governance and we can help you with these top strategic initiatives as follows:-

    • Work with your team to conduct an in-depth analysis of business finances to indicate potential areas for cost optimisation and assist you with implementing the initiatives in a timely and efficient manner. We also assist with dashboards to use for monitoring cashflows as well as key ratios to focus on and monitor, cashflow forecasting to enhance cashflow management in your business and ensure that your business remains liquid and thus able to pay for its obligations in the short term as they arise.
    • We also assist with developing annual financial budgets which serve as a key cost management tool for enhancing financial governance in your business on an-ongoing-basis.
    • Talk to  us about cloud-based financial software options which are best suited to your business requirements.
    • Struggling to come out of debt and resuscitate your business due to high interest payments on your financing? We advise on financing options that can help your business to break the cycle of indebtedness. Get in touch with us today for tailor-made solutions to your financing challenges.