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30 Nov 2022, Edition - 2696, Wednesday

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Coimbatore

Today’s New age CFO has a more complex role to play

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COIMBATORE : The new age Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has a much bigger, more complex, and more tougher role cut out for him to perform than his traditional counterpart.
The responsibilities of the conventional CFO are mainly confined to protecting the assets, minimizing risks, getting the company’s balance-sheet right, and running efficient and effective finance management.

On the other hand, the modern day CFO has to be an all rounder who has to ensure strict compliance with a vast array of regulatory laws, accountable to the various requirements of stakeholders, and remain sane in the face of unprecedented disruptions as was evidenced during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

The above facts were analyzed threadbare at Coimbatore Management Association’s CFO Conclave held at SIEMA Hall at Race Course in Coimbatore on April 29,2022. CMA President Jayakumar Ramdass in his welcome address said that besides paying attention to the financial aspects, the CFO would have to manage disruptions and yet deliver value. Programme Chairman CA K.Ravi in his remarks said that the CFO has to manage 4 Rs—Resources, Risk, Relationship and Responsibility.

Mr S.Narayan, IAS (Retd), Member, Special Economic Advisory Committee, Tamil Nadu Government, and former Economic Advisor to Prime Minister, delivered the keynote address and inaugurated the conclave. He said that it had fallen upon the CFO to perform beyond the ambit of his responsibilities, and to do justice to his role the CFO had to find recourse to technology. Answering a question from a participant as to whether the promoters were facing lesser risks, Mr Narayan asserted that the risk taking ability of promoters had not come down.

Speaking on the topic “Technology and CFO,”Mr S.Srinivas, CFO & Compliance Officer, Seshasayee Paper & Boards Ltd, Erode, batted for CFO adopting technology for effectively discharging his responsibilities. The CFO would have to leverage technology to conform to the basic discipline of compliance. The Maharashtra, Telengana and Tamil Nadu State Governments are increasingly adopting blockchain technology in keeping track of RT-PCR tests, property registration and finding solutions to grassroots problems respectively, he said.

Dwelling on the topic “Financial challenges & CFO,” Mr Rakesh Patwari, Country Head Business Development, HSBC Bank Ltd, said that of late the financial landscape across the spectrum was changing. Especially, in the last two years it was quite stressful owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Patwari futher said that manufacturing activity was now transforming into services. Now the financial sector was witnessing a different class of investors coming in, he added.

Elaborating on the topic “Managing compliance risks & CFO,”Mr Sai Bommadevara, Managing Director, PWC Risk Assurance Services, said that compliance is becoming and increasing role for the new age CFOs and has to put in place a proper system to meet statutory requirements.

Panel discussion

Subsequently, Mr Raghuvir Srinivasan, Editor, The Hindu BusinessLine, Chennai, chaired the panel discussion on “Emerging contemporary challenges for CFO”. He observed in a lighter vein that the way the responsibilities delineated for a modern CFO make one feel that a CFO ought to be a super human being.
It has become a gargantuan task for the CFO to take care of the financial aspects of the company, keep an eye on the workforce, and comply with the norms prescribed by the regulatory authorities. He wondered whether the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) was readying the CAs to cope with the modern day requirements.

Mr N.Prasad, Director, Savedisk, stated that ICAI was preparing the CAs more toward practice than towards industry. Questions relating to all issues are directed to the CFO and therefore, proper grooming is necessary for them to succeed. Mr Srinivas strongly defended the need for using technological tools for day to day.

Mr Sai Bommavara said that the cost of compliance would be much lower than the cost of non compliance.

CMA secretary Dr Nithyanandan Devaraaj summed up the event and proposed a vote of thanks. The meeting was well attended by various finance Professional from the region.

Mr. Raghuvir Srinivasan Editor, The Hindu BusinessLine, Chennai speaking at the CFO Conclave organized by Coimbatore Management Association. Also seen are panalists : Mr Rakesh Patwari, Country Head Business Development, HSBC Bank Ltd; Mr N.Prasad, Director, Savedisk; Mr. S.Srinivas, CFO & Compliance Officer, Seshasayee Paper & Boards Ltd, Erode; and Mr Sai Bommadevara, Managing Director, PWC Risk Assurance Services.

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