For Tommie Koeries, Financial Director of the Tiletoria Group of Companies, a subsidiary of Invicta Holdings Ltd., the path that led him to this position started in Grade 8 when he first encountered Accounting as a school subject. “It was just a natural fit for me and I excelled at the subject.” That was when he decided to become a CA (SA) and a business leader.
This desire led him to complete his articles at Sasol Ltd through the Training Outside Public Practice (TOPP), which is based more on commercial training as opposed to traditional audit training.
“I initially started my articles in the audit profession but then decided to do my training outside the audit profession. This was one of my best decisions in my career as this positioned me very well to become a Finance Executive at a listed entity.”
After completing his articles, I fulfilled various roles at Sasol in a senior finance role which further molded my personal and professional skills. This prepared me for my Executive roles I am currently fulfilling in corporate.
On investing in Africa
Despite several factors such as labour laws, political instability and electricity supply that undermines GDP growth in the country, South Africa still plays an important role in the global financial world, and it still presents an investment proposition for global investors.
These are the views of Mr Tommie Koeries, Financial Director of the Tiletoria Group of Companies, a subsidiary of Invicta Holdings Ltd.
“First of all, our financial sector is one of the best in the world and was one of few financial systems that were not adversely affected by the financial crisis in 2008. South Africa is still seen as the springboard for Africa for many developed economies.”
According to Koeries, sectors such as tourism, financial services and the consumer industries sector continue to present good return on investments for investors.
“At the moment capital intensive industries such as mining and manufacturing sector are not ideal due to the challenge with our electricity supply. I would therefore not advise to make significant investments in these sectors unless the supplier can guarantee electricity supply.”
He says the country’s infrastructure and sound financial system makes a compelling case to invest here, providing that political instability, rigorous labour laws and high unemployment (especially amongst youth) are addressed, as well as the fact that regulations are not business friendly to the business community, especially the small business sector.
“Our financial sector is one of the best in the world and was one of few financial systems that were not adversely affected by the financial crisis in 2008. ”
Nevertheless, Koeries believes that GDP growth for the foreseeable future (3-5 years) will be around 3%.
“However, since we are part of the global economy export opportunities for local companies exist which can give growth beyond 3%. I feel companies that deliver value to stakeholders will always outperform average growth of an economy.”
He says South African companies can have a massive impact on the economic growth potential of the African continent as many global companies that want to invest in Africa sees South Africa as the springboard for African investment.
“Africa still presents a good return for many developed economies who are operating in low GDP environments. The fact that South Africa have the infrastructure, financial system and skills, the role it can play in the growth potential on the African continent is immense.”
Koeries says one the constraints of expanding into Africa is without a doubt the underdevelopment of infrastructure which still requires a lot of investment. “The supply chain thus can be a challenge to many companies that want to operate in Africa. This however is getting attention and when you see countries like Rwanda making inroads, it gives hope that the global community is prepared to put capital into Africa to address the infrastructure challenge.”
He says although corruption continues to be a challenge in Africa, it is not only limited to the continent. “With more focus on corporate governance globally, I am confident that the level of corruption seen on the African continent will be reduced to acceptable levels.”
Koeries believes that although Africa is already playing a massive role in the expansion of South African companies, its role in the future will become more valuable to the global community.
As far as Brexit is concerned, Koeries says he doesn’t think the impact will be massive to South Africa.
“The UK still needs the international community hence most agreements that were concluded with the EU will most likely be concluded with the UK on the same basis.”
On the role of the CFO
“The biggest challenge for a modern CFO and finance executive is the fast evolving business landscape in which businesses operate and the timeous response to your business model that is required. Failure to respond adequately and timeously might be a serious threat to the sustainability of your business.”
Koeries says the new workforce of the millennials also presents a challenge and businesses struggle to keep the workforce fully engaged.
He says Cyber security is also a big risk to businesses and businesses might not always respond adequately to these risks.
“Great opportunities exist in these environments and the challenge for business leaders is to see these opportunities, such as how to leverage technology to the benefit of the business. Individuals on average have four screens and the questions are whether we maximize these platforms to reach our audiences and how we can utilise technology to optimize the supply chain (remove layers of costs).”
He says the role of the CFO in his industry has seen massive changes over recent years as it has moved from a scorekeeper to a business partner role where the CFO tends to set the strategic pace for the business and plays an important role in ensuring the sustainability of the business.
CFO’ have also had to take on more decision making responsibilities, says Koeries.
“As all activities have an impact on the business, it is therefore the right thing to involve Finance as well. The challenge the CFO faces today is time. Therefore time management becomes critical. The things we were measured on in the past will still be expected from us, however we now also need to fulfill the business partner role.
He says he had to obtain softer skills that traditionally were not the focus of the finance person.
“These alternative skills are without a doubt expected from CFOs, as they are probably the best skilled amongst the executives of a board. With scenario planning a CFO can guide a business on which business model to follow to ensure the business is sustainable.”
Koeries sees the role of CFO’s/finance managers in South Africa changing in the future to fulfill a greater business partner role as opposed to the traditional role.