Chief financial officers in digital age

By Dang Hoa - Sep 28, 2018 | 05:03 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERTechnology is booming and chief financial officers need to utilize the opportunities from new trends, especially for young economies like Vietnam, in order to ensure growth, productivity, and cost reduction, according to Chairman of the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes (IAFEI) Fausto Cosi.

Chief financial officers in digital age
Chairman of IAFEI Fausto Cosi. Photo:

"If chief financial officers (CFOs) are not willing to change to adapt to the state of the art technologies, they would not be able to catch up with the new trends which are changing every day," he said.

Sharing with TheLEADER, Chairman of the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes (IAFEI) Fausto Cosi said that countries in the region, including Vietnam, are in a good position in the global economy as there are more and more investment flows coming from other nations. This would be important to guide the growth of emerging economies such as Vietnam.

Vietnam has almost 100 million citizens and a positive demographics with almost 40 per cent of the people under 25 years old.

For investment in emerging markets such as Vietnam, Fausto Cosi believes that finding the quality of workforce should be one of the most important factors in deciding investment rather than just utilizing the low labor costs.

While in Western Europe, Fausto Cosi said that the population is getting older, investment is not as positive as before and it is difficult to guarantee good economic growth in the future. The investment decline in recent years has also created some problems.

The IAFEI's leader said that CFOs play a very important role in every business because they are strategic advisors and investment-oriented for business owners and other stakeholders in the company. If a company does not have the right investment strategy, that company will come to the brink of collapse in a short time because without investment you will not be able to grow.

“CFOs need to be modern and actual. They should always keep updated with international rules, standards in the field of finance and technology instead of being passive about technology breakthrough or they would lag behind.

This will be one of the key factors in ensuring the growth and development of companies because we are living and working in a global economy and Vietnam is also an important factor in that environment," suggested Fausto Cosi.

In that context, Vietnam Chief Financial Officers Club (CFO Vietnam) is cooperating with the Japan Association for Chief Financial Officers (JAFCO) to organize The 48th CFO World Congress - IAFEI for Finance Executives to welcome more than 500 business leaders, global chief financial officers, finance directors and other finance executives from all continents together to share knowledge and expertise, reflect on history, assimilate new information, and delve into the future of the finance profession. 

Chief financial officers in digital age
IAFEI chairman Fausto Cosi. Photo: accountingweekly

"For the first time, the annual IAFEI congress takes place in Vietnam, a true mark of the progress of that rising star economy has made on the road to a market economy with prospects for growth in GDP, consumer spending and living standards," said Fausto Cosi.

Why do you choose “Transforming finance in the digital age” as the theme of the Congress this year?

Fausto Cosi: The effect of political problems on manufacturing activities, international trade, and currency valuations is causing a moment of uncertainty being felt globally.

The theme of our Congress “Transforming Finance in the Digital Age” underlines these concepts, and promises a great opportunity for discussion, for new potential openings towards new markets, and for cultural and professional growth.

It will be an opportune time for all delegates from IAFEI member institutes all over the world to renew ties and network among themselves on topics of common interest making it IAFEI truly the global premiere society of financial executives.

We hope to create an environment for them to share knowledge and expertise, reflect on history, assimilate new information, and delve into the future of the finance profession so that they can solve the problem in term of finance and administration in their companies.

It is very important for recognizing and utilizing the opportunities provided by new technologies in the daily financial activities.

Why do you decide to discuss such topics as cybersecurity, blockchain, analytics and artificial intelligence in the Congress?

Fausto Cosi: In fact, technology is booming and CFOs need to look at the opportunities that new technology brings about, especially for young economies like Vietnam, in order to increase productivity and reduce costs.

The event held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam this year would be a great opportunity for CFOs to learn and update the most advanced technology, experience and expertise in finance from corporate leaders, senior finance executives, chief financial officers, and financial experts from all continents.

In that context, cybersecurity is a very important issue and needs to be discussed so that businesses can ensure that they are not caught up in the dangers when applying technology in their systems.

In this event, we also expect to update the situation at Vietnamese enterprises today, what are the latest technology here.

Could you please assess the success of 47 other events held in other countries?

Fausto Cosi: In the previous events and this time also, we carefully selected the venue of the event. The two most recent conferences were held in South Africa and Brazil. We always utilized opportunities to create the chances for our participants to meet and interact with international partners. For example, in the event taking place three years ago in Milan, our participants were also those who attended the EXPO Milan 2015.

And each event was held in a different country, especially in a growing economy to bring to the CFOs there the messages and opportunities to learn and apply international standards in the field of finance into their system, discuss and exchange experience with financial managers and experts around the world.

With the cooperation between the CFO Vietnam and Japan Association of CFO (JACFO), this year's event is going to be held in Ho Chi Minh City, showing a high spirit of close cooperation between parties. We need to discuss in a spirit of cooperation to be able to draw the missing points in the economies of countries in the region and in the world. Obviously, this spirit is an added value that this year's conference provides.

What are the specific values CFOs can gain from this November event to better improve the finance and administration activities of the company?

Fausto Cosi: CFOs play a very important role in every business because they are strategic advisors and investment-oriented for business owners and other stakeholders in the company.

In this event, we will discuss the issues of investment, technology and especially the identification of potential investment destinations.

Especially, this event will draw the participation of CFOs from developed countries in the world in the context that globalization is happening and the distance between countries is not getting closer. Although some recent moves made by the US president may have negative impacts on the global economy, we need to be open and connect together in order to both support and compete to growth.

Do you have any advice for Vietnamese CFOs?

Fausto Cosi: It’s important to exchange point of view and opportunities if you want to learn, to train your job and to develop because we do not stay at the same place, we are always to look forward if you want to grow.

And the first and most important guarantee for each CFO as a manager, you have to be proud of yourself, learn to grow every day, be professional, follow international rules, do not feel afraid of technology and look at the future with a good and positive view. If we believe in ourselves, we can do everything.

Thank you very much!