In Conversation with Manish Singhania CFO Essar Steel Precoated Facility
1. From your personal experience, how do you think the role of CFOs has transformed and evolved in the past few years?
Ans : Role of CFO has evolved from Control to Contribute over the period . Earlier CFO effectiveness was measured on historical transactions and tax efficiency, Now with real time business decisions, now CFO is expected to play role in analyzing and providing guidance for future outlook and be business partner instead of mere controller.
With overall holistic knowledge and finance being integral to all business functions, CFO is
In better position to assess and manage risk and develop framework for the same.
In recent past , Compliance and Corporate Governance has taken center stage and as professed in the subject matter , CFOs are natural choice for organisations to rely upon to anchor these initiative in the organisations.
2. Please give us a little prelude to what you are going to talk about at the conference.
Ans: Digitization and Artificial intelligence are new buzzwords and changing business landscape. Finance function is no exception and these contemporary technologies will make deep impact upon Business models and the way business is run. Entire gamut of controls will be replaced by different measures. I will be touching various issues evolving from this transformation.
3. What are the technologies that are being seeked by most industry leaders/ CFOs?
Ans : Ours is the age of plenty of data . In fact we are living in the age of date congestion.
The real challenge today is not availability of data but too much availability of data yet struggling for meaningful data.
Further with open systems, conventional flow and controls of data capturing have become irrelevant.
In this scenario, technologies which can provide relevant information in time from data loads is most sought after.
In finance domain, the focus shift is from Past to future and real time transaction processing and meaningful analysis of data .
Artificial intelligence has been making inroad swiftly in Finance and repetitive transactions and predictive processes are being digitized .Boots are replacing human.
The whole idea is to improve productivity leap bound, make financial information available real time accurately and utilize manpower into analysis and business forecasting.
4. What are your views about the new age millennial CFOs? Are they different in their attitude and approach towards the roles and responsibilities of a CFO?
Ans : There has been complete shift in business approach in last decade. Earlier focus used to be on volume and profitability, now the buzzword is valuation and value creation.
Shareholders gain have been replaced by stakeholder’s interest. Hence, the role and responsibility of new age CFO has become multifold compared to earlier avatar.
Technology is another critical differentiator . Now a days, CFO cannot remain oblivious to new age technology. In fact, they are embraced to it and have been given charge for business transformation in organization.
Another peculiar development which has happened is disruption of liner communication and now organizations are exposed and prone to risks which were not considered as Business Risk earlier. We have seen instances of sudden value erosion of firms on the basis of social media posts. These Black swans have created situation that CFO need to become Spokesperson of the organization and engage in periodic interaction with external stakeholders.
5. How do you think digitization and automation of processes is reducing the workload and improving efficiency? Please give a use case.
Ans : The entire concept of digitization and automation works around volume of data , timelines and efficiency . With increased business volumes and information requirements, it is imperative to go for business process transformation. Digitization is making positive impact in the processes having repetitive data. The biggest example across industries and verticals is GST implementation. Success rate of GST implementation and compliance status would not have been achieved without digitization. Automation of the entire process has ensured timely availment of GST Credit, matching of business partners invoices with ours , improved turnaround time for logistic with e way automation and most importantly filing of returns within prescribed time lines.
These we could achieve without increase in headcount . Improved productivity and efficiency has been motivation booster for human capital .