157: Roxane Leita

After gaining experience in a variety of roles at PwC, Roxane Leita, was approached by Investec to assist with the launch of Investec Life as their Head of Finance, where she faced the challenge to create finance processes from the ground up and she shares here the intricacies of this role.

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Draftworx, which provides automated drafting and working paper financial software to more than 8000 accounting and auditing firms and corporations. CFO Talks is a brand of the South African Institute of Business Accountants.

CIARAN RYAN: It’s my great pleasure today to welcome Roxane Leita, who is head of finance for Investec Life. For those who are outside of South Africa, that’s a life company, which is part of the Investec Group. She’s been in that role since 2018 and prior to that she was at PwC in a variety of roles from external assurance, financial services, insurance and other roles. We’ll come to that in a minute. The challenge she faced at Investec Life was to create finance processes from the ground up and that meant the legacy business had to be rationalised to allow the company to focus on new strategic responsibilities. This included the successful onboarding of the regulatory reporting function to in house, which resulted in a cost saving from using consultants. She’s been involved in the launch of the company’s new products, Investec Life’s new products, local and offshore investments as it relates to the financial statement and regulatory reporting. First of all, welcome Roxane. We are also joined by Nicolaas van Wyk, who is the chief executive officer at the South African Institute of Business Accountants. Welcome to Nicolaas and welcome to Roxane.

NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Hi, Ciaran. Hi, Roxane.

ROXANE LEITA: Hi, Ciaran, hi Nicolaas, thanks for inviting me onto your show.

CIARAN RYAN: Roxane, tell us a little bit about your role at Investec Life, it seems it’s one where pretty much you had to write the process manual from the very beginning. Was this a challenge for you when you first joined?

ROXANE LEITA: Very interesting question, Ciaran, I had been at PwC for quite some time, as per my intro, with some various roles, all mainly related to insurance and asset management companies. At that point in time, I thought I was quite aware of financial processes, how they work, how they are meant to work, having audited them from an internal and an external point of view. Then I was approached by Investec to come and have a conversation with their Life CEO, Michael Goemans, about at that stage the soon to be launching life insurance company. It was a very appealing opportunity. It’s not often that one gets to join a startup life insurance company, coming with the additional allure of being part of a very well-known, well-established brand such as Investec. Being able to write a process manual was and actually still is an amazing experience, and it’s still an ongoing experience, as the life insurance company was launched in late 2017. So it’s still a fairly new insurance company in terms of insurance companies. Most life insurance companies have been around for decades.

It definitely comes with its own challenges, and I think one of the main ones is doing processes so that they are fit for purpose and fit for what the business needs, as well as making sure that they’re in enough detail and level of granularity so that any reporting is easy. You’ve still got all the required controls that are there and all the necessary audit trails, so there is that balance. For example, a particular entry might be done in two steps, whereas if you look on the face of it, if you do it in one it’s simpler, it’s quicker, it’s easier, but you need that level of detail so that when it comes to reporting, you don’t have to have a manual intervention to actually extract the level of detail that you. So it’s that continually looking at, well, what might have been fit for purpose yesterday, because the business has grown, we’ve added additional business units like our investment product, is it still relevant, do we need to tweak it a little bit, do we need to make little changes to actually make it fit for the future, because your finance function needs to be agile and continually evolving. I think with the level of automation and the focus of automation coming in in the future, it’s always a challenge there to say, okay, we have got this process in place, how do we streamline it and make sure that we can change that to be automated potentially in the future.

One of the allures of going to a big international accounting firm is there are potentially opportunities to go offshore for a while.’

CIARAN RYAN: Okay, obviously with what you’re doing at Investec Life, you had a career before that, which was at PwC and you were there for quite a long time, so you’re not a person who has shifted around much, from what I can see in your career. Tell us about your roles at PwC and how that set you up for where you are now.

ROXANE LEITA: I might not have moved companies, but I do like to see my career at PwC almost in three distinct phases. I started my articles in 2004, what’s now known as a traineeship, in the Pretoria office of PwC and there I mainly did audits of consumer products, there were motor manufacturing companies and some medical schemes and then some other IT companies, for example. So that was my three years of articles and then what happened is I got to spend nine months at PwC’s New York office. I was afforded the opportunity to go on secondment. I think that’s one of the allures of going to a big international accounting firm, is there are potentially opportunities to go offshore for a while. There I did audits of private equity and hedge funds, so that was also a completely scope and completely different clients. It was also a completely different environment. What is nice about PwC is that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, there are some similarities and commonalities, but each office is quite distinct, and each region is quite distinct.

Then after spending nine months in New York, I came back to South Africa, and I joined the financial services, investment and insurance division in the Johannesburg office. As you said in the intro, there I mainly specialised in insurance companies and asset management companies, so three different types of clients. Then what also happened is staying there in the financial services, I moved through the ranks from assistant manager all the way up to associate director and I was also able to get more involved in the actual inner workings of PwC. For example, I played a big role in the risk management insurance function of the firm, making sure that particular auditing standards are met from that point of view. What I also got involved in was training, so when we had new trainees who came onboard, just being involved in the onboarding, training them on the insurance industry because it’s not something that you get exposed to at university or when you’re studying. I think the IFRS 4 standard is something that is put aside and not really covered. So it’s just onboarding them in terms of the industry and also just in terms of this is how we work, this is where you can get your information from. Then as I moved up into more senior roles, it was less about looking after the trainees, but more about ensuring that the managers that we had at PwC were given adequate support, training and mentorship so that they could perform their roles effectively and efficiently as possible, and that you had good quality people because most jobs, for me, it’s mainly about the people.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay, so tell us a little bit more about Investec Life and where that fits into the insurance ecosphere in South Africa, and is it focused exclusively in South Africa or has it got an international presence? Tell us a bit about that.

ROXANE LEITA: Investec Life is a niche life insurer. What it does is it adds to the offering that Investec has for its private banking clients. We refer to ourselves a truly omnichannel offering. So what this means is that our clients can choose how they would like to interact with us. We are fully

digital, our application process is online, so that means that you can go on any time and we’ve had applications go through at very non-traditional business times, not your nine to five. So you can go on at nine o’clock at night, you can log on, do the application and you can potentially accept the policy, if it goes straight through without any underwriting, or if you decide you’ve got some questions, you sound a little bit unsure, you want to have a chat to someone, you can actually speak to someone at Investec Life. Then you can go back online and finish your application. If you’re unsure, you can actually speak to one of our salaried advisors and they can do a full financial plan for you and they can go through the application with you as well. So it really is designed for the client.

However, if they’d like to interact, they’ve got the different options that they can actually interact with us. We’re currently focused on Investec private banking clients and we have the traditional risk

offerings, so it’s life cover, severe illness, income protection and funeral cover. Then we’ve also got mortgage protection cover, so if you’ve got a bond with Investec, you can go online and you can just get cover for the value of the bond with Investec. So as a cover increases or decreases, your life cover then will decrease and increase in your premium as well in line with that. So that’s really where we fit. We started in 2017, so as I said, it’s fairly new days for a life insurance company and then in 2019 we launched our local investment product offering and then in 2020 we launched our offshore investment products. So as you can see, we’ve been growing over the years as well and that also goes with an iterative approach, doing the risk products and then opening up the investment products.

This is actually the period that life insurance companies have been designed for.’

CIARAN RYAN: I’m just interested to find out how this business been going during this nearly two years now of Covid. Are people lapsing on their policies, are they becoming more diligent in the way that they pay their life policies, and they invest for the future, what has been the trend?

ROXANE LEITA: One thing with Covid is everyone now speaks insurance language. People know about co-morbidities now and that’s been the big talk in the industry. One of the advantages that Investec Life had with Covid was because we were fully digital and online, people could still go online and take out policies, even during hard lockdown. We didn’t require any physical signatures or paper application forms. So if people wanted to, they still could come and take out policies. I think people now are very aware of their own mortality, it’s not something that people like to think about, so I think there has been an emphasis on life insurance. But what you’ll also see is a lot of the other life insurers have taken big hits in terms of claims that have been paid out for Covid and also [unclear] regulatory capital requirements are actually comprehensive. So I think the life insurers are well designed and capitalised to weather out this Covid stage that we’re in at this point in time. I think for the life insurance industry it has been a heavy few years just in terms of claims but that’s what life insurance companies are there for, you want to know that when you need them in terms of if someone has passed away, the rest of your family is going to be looked after. So this is actually the period that life insurance companies have been designed for.

CIARAN RYAN: Maybe we can bring Nicolaas van Wyk in here, the one thing I wanted to get your opinion on, Nicolaas, Roxane has been talking about her experience at PwC, it’s the complexity of the accounting profession. She spent many months in New York, working on a range of different functions within the PwC family, and in accounting there are so many different routes that you can take. She’s been involved in auditing private equity firms, she’s now involved with another financial services firm. But my goodness, the range of career opportunities in accounting is quite staggering. I wanted to get your input on that, Nicolaas.

NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Yes, accounting is always a nice study route to take because it has such a wide application and we do find accountants of all types in high demand. We just did a survey on LinkedIn because that’s another new avenue in our profession and I would love to get Roxane’s view on that as well, we’ve seen that CFOs and heads of finance are more and more coming from different backgrounds other than accounting. We interviewed the CFO of Hollard Insurance and he’s an actuary but he’s the CFO of Hollard, and so we find with MTN going for an engineer. In your role as head of finance, what is your perspective on what makes the best CFO or head of finance of an organisation, what do they look for, especially given your own background and moving into insurance, I would love to hear what your views are on that.

ROXANE LEITA: I don’t want to sound biased, being a CA, but I do agree that your accounting roles give you a wide avenue of different ways to actually get to the CFO office and I think there are a lot of different ways that you can get to the CFO office. For me, being a CFO is about business acumen, and that’s why MTN has an engineer, Hollard, and there are a couple of other insurance companies that have actuaries as CFOs. I think for a CFO the role has been evolving over the course of many years, moving away from just being a reporting function or a regulatory function, so less emphasis on technical aspects but more emphasis on business acumen, driving the business forward and enabling the business with appropriate information so that you can make those business decisions. Do you have to be an accountant for that? Not necessarily. For me, does it give you more technical expertise in terms of being able to pick up a set of financials and interpreting that and interpreting some financial ratios? It does. Can those be taught to other people? Absolutely, we’ve seen that. So I think the CFO role, to get that base technical experience however you are going to get that and then to actually build up on that with business acumen and interpersonal people skills because that’s really what you’re doing, you’re interacting with people and conveying information. It doesn’t help if you’ve got the technical know-how but you can’t translate that to the relevant audience, and being a CFO there is a large range of different stakeholders you are speaking to and you have to be able to communicate to those stakeholders in the language that’s appropriate for those stakeholders and coney the message that you have got to get across.

NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Just a follow-up question, your speciality is now obviously in the insurance industry, and you mentioned IFRS 4, and then you also mentioned something interesting in that it wasn’t covered in the curriculum. So maybe also your comment on that. Currently our accounting qualifications are packed full of information but we’re not getting everything. So at what point in your career do you add those additional things, either a new speciality like IFRS standard, a specific one to your industry, or adding the management characteristics that we require of CFOs. When do those things happen?

ROXANE LEITA: That’s a very good question and I have seen it in a variety of different places, where someone who is technical has made a jump into a CFO role, and somebody who you potentially thought would have made a very good business leader because of their interpersonal skills, didn’t actually translate as you would have expected into that business leader. For me, it is about identifying what your particular unique value add is because it’s such a differing part that you can take. I don’t think people should be pinning themselves to say, well, this is how, for example, the CFO of this company made it, I’m going to do the exact same steps and get the exact same results, because you won’t.

So I think it’s assessing where you are, being agile, being hungry and keeping that growth mindset in terms of what’s new, what’s changing, what does the future hold. A lot of what’s been spoken about now of finance functions of the future is automation and how do we get there so that accountants and finance people can do more analysis and, therefore, you’re adding more value to the business by analysing and not spending three weeks preparing a month-end report. That business is now saying, well, they knew about that three months because your sales manager knows what the sales are on a daily basis. They don’t wait for finance to come three weeks after month end and say, this is what your sales numbers are and this is the result, and expect a pat on the back. So it’s constantly identifying what’s coming up on the horizon and what will still be valuable in the future, but still maintaining that technical…what people expect from accountants is attention to detail, they expect a certain level of technical knowledge and I think that’s assumed. So you’ve got to keep maintaining those good skills but also looking for the skills that are going to be marketable in the future. I have two sons and people are saying now that they’re probably going to be doing jobs that haven’t even been thought about just yet. So I think it’s very important to keep looking to the future to see what skills would be necessary then and then adapting. For example, IFRS 4, people might hear the podcast and say, okay, IFRS 4, they’re going to go and they’re going to brush up on that, but what’s actually coming up in the insurance world is a new accounting standard that’s coming in 2023/2024 and that’s IFRS 17. So you’ve always got to be looking to what’s coming up in the future and how you can develop yourself to be future fit.

CIARAN RYAN: IFRS 4, I had to look that up, that’s got to do with insurance contracts.

NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Ciaran, just one more question for Roxane. As SAIBA we also have to face these challenges, how do you position a designation in a constantly changing environment. Traditionally, we would say go to university, get your three, four or five-year articles and then write a final exam and you qualify. But what we have found is that it’s like what Roxane was saying, it constantly changes, and you have to add these management skills to your repertoire as an accountant. So what we then did was to say but can’t we recognise these accomplishments within a designation. So our CFO designation tries to – and I don’t know whether it’s successful – but at least it tries to look at the person’s career development over the years, consider the qualification, experience and also what was gained over about ten years, and then as they reach the pinnacle of our profession, which we think is the head of finance, CFO type role, we then award them with a designation. But in that process because if you just Google the role of the CFO, you’ll see that they keep on talking about the modern CFO and the modern things that they have to do. But that modern changes daily. What are your views in that, Roxane?

People are finding different roles in their 40s or in their 50s, and they’re starting what people define as their second careers.’

ROXANE LEITA: Nicolaas, you’re so right there. It seems just as if people are talking about the CFO and as you have rightly said now, it’s the modern CFO. So are you not now the modern CFO and what does that mean? I think when people are chasing a designation or a position and you’re trying to accumulate a lot of skills or a lot of what you think will add value to the title or will get you to that particular position, you need to be very cautious of…there’s potentially a very overused cliché saying, you try everything but you don’t get to master any specific skill, and I think that’s really what it is, that each CFO has a unique value proposition that they bring to their particular company. For me, it’s identifying what value you can add and then finding the right role, company, designation that actually will utilise your unique abilities that you have because I think as well what has changed over the career landscape is people staying in one job with one company and then starting out right at the bottom and then working their way up. That kind of career path is probably very unique still at this point in time because don’t actually do that. Most people are jumping companies and people talk about lateral moves. You’re not just climbing one career ladder, you move over to a new ladder and you start climbing there.

People are finding different roles in their 40s or in their 50s, and they’re starting what people define as their second careers. So I really think the job market now is very, very different to even what it was maybe even three years ago. Now with Covid, the whole remote working has opened up exponentially and maybe your CFO roles are going more the way of not sitting in a company. But how a lot of these other companies have opened up, you’ve got your CFO almost for hire, where you’ve got a company that comes in as a CFO and then you’ve got different people who are in that role. So I think it’s a skill set and it’s what I used to tell a lot of my managers and a lot of people who I have mentored is, people will tell you a lot about what you have to develop on but if you just focus on that, that’s the stuff that you’re not doing that well, then you’re not focusing on actually what you’re doing very well, and that’s your unique value proposition that you have. So by focusing on understanding what you need to develop and work on, that’s great, because those are skills and that could be people skills or some technical skills that’ll actually add to your repertoire. But don’t forget about what you do really, really well. There’s a lot of opportunity to join a company that sees the value that you can add there.

CIARAN RYAN: Great, tell us a little bit more about yourself now, Roxane, where did you grow up, where did you go to school and, importantly, what drew you to the world of accounting?

ROXANE LEITA: I grew up in Rustenburg, I spent most of my childhood there. I came to Pretoria to study at the University of Pretoria. I think why accounting appealed to me, I’m a fairly logical person, I like to organise things, a very A-type personality in terms of that, so the two careers that were fairly appealing to be was something in engineering, you build stuff, or you can pick things apart and understand how they work and for me, that was what accounting and then auditing actually was. You can go into a company, and you can understand what their processes are and understand how those things get built. So that’s what drew me to accounting, as well as the fact that you can get a job anywhere, so it’s a very flexible degree. So if you want to move from South Africa to the US, to Europe, to anywhere else in the world, India, China, debits and credits are debits and credits, and the way it functions it’s its own language, if you want to call it that. So it translates very well across borders.

CIARAN RYAN: Where would you spend most of your time, just take us through the practicalities of your current role, is it mostly on regulatory issues, is it people management, how big is your team and how are you interacting with them during Covid? Are you working from home or is it a hybrid of home and office?

ROXANE LEITA: The insurance industry is very heavily regulated, there is a lot of time spent interacting with the regulators, checking your regulatory compliance. Now with the new accounting standard coming in, a lot of time is spent on that. I think where I’m quite fortunate is being part of the bigger Investec Group, there are a lot of group functions, group resources, technical resources that I can actually rely on and draw from there to support me. I’m very fortunate for that role. My team is fairly small and fairly lean, and where we don’t do something ourselves, for example, our creditor’s function, we rely on group services. So we try to integrate as much as possible with the rest of the group and with the rest of the functions there. A lot of my role is spent in business with business, ensuring that there is right information so that they can make the right decisions, supporting them. With your CFO role as well, you take a look at your technical side of things, your reporting side, treasury, cash management, looking at cash flows and things like that as well, and then on the people side as well, so that’s either business or the team, developing them, making sure that everyone is performing how they need to perform, so that we can produce the necessary reports, financials and make sure our accounting is stable as well.

There are a couple of compliance matters that I deal with as well, risk items too, so there’s that whole suite that Nicolaas was referring to in terms of what your CFO is actually responsible for. Just in terms of working with Covid as well, still predominantly work from home, the office has opened up, which has been a real treat to be able to go back to the office and see all the people there who you have just been interacting with online. I think the biggest thing was when they opened up the coffee shop because it’s very much a collaborative environment and Investec is very much relationship orientated. So it was very, very nice to be able to go back to the office. There are still strict Covid protocols in place. They’re not working on 100% capacity yet. It’s just really great to be able to go back into the office and see people face to face.

Translating figures into a narrative

CIARAN RYAN: Okay, one of the things that you mentioned earlier was, and it’s part of your role as a CFO, communicating is something that comes up very often with CFOs we speak to. It’s not just the technical background, of course that’s a given that you have to be very technically proficient at what you do, but I think what is required more and more is this ability to be able to translate those figures into a narrative, into a story, which can be understood by different audiences, from the people on the factor floor, all the way to the boardroom, to the C-suite. Is that something that you see as very much part of your role?

ROXANE LEITA: Ciaran, you’ve absolutely summed that up beautifully. Investec has a top programme as well, where they get trainees in, and I had two trainees rotate into my area at different times and that was actually something I’ve said to them as well is that the technical aspect is a given, you’ve come out of university, you’ve got this degree, you’re doing this traineeship, so that’s a given, that’s expected. If you don’t have that then it’s a gap. But the ability to, as you said, translate the numbers into something meaningful that different people can actually understand, that’s definitely a talent and a skill that’s needed in the CFO role. What I do see very often is because

accounting is quite technical, people do slip into the jargon a lot, IFRS, IAS, it’s almost like a competition to see who can come up with the newest acronym there. Then you forget that the people who you’re talking to actually don’t have the background that you actually have. The ability to be simple is so critical. There’s another saying that says if you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t actually understand it yourself., and that’s that ability to be able to break something complex down into very simple elements and explain that to someone, and then you know that you truly understand it because you can break it down into its components and then build it up again and it still

looks the same as what it did before you took it apart.

I see it more and more, particularly being an insurer in a banking world like Investec, they’re not used to the insurance jargon. People only now with Covid got used to the phrase comorbidities. So there’s a lot of insurance jargon there as well and it’s all about understanding what is jargon in your world that you take for granted that somebody else might not understand. So it’s actually explaining it to them, not because they can’t understand it but just because it’s something that they’re not used to, it’s not that they can’t understand it or that they don’t understand it. So yes, it’s very, very important to be able to tell the stories, numbers, tell a story and for accountants, it might be very easy because you’re used to looking just at the numbers and at that language, but to be able to get the numbers to be alive, and I think then in reference to Nicolaas talking about LinkedIn, there are a lot of accountants now on LinkedIn who are doing this whole movement about making numbers simple and making them tell a story because the finance function understand the numbers, they understand the graphs, they understand having three columns next to each other, so this month compared to last month, compared to budget, compared to last year this time, compared to last year annual, last year year-to-date, they understand all of that, but it’s being able to put that into a little concise picture because your C-suite has very limited time.

So what are the three most important things that they actually need to get out of it. They don’t need to understand all the background to it, they just want to understand what are the three most important things to them, and that’s why I say finance is very much a service-orientated function. Finance is there to serve the business and to give it relevant information in a format that the business understands. When I talk to our marketing department, compared to when I talk to my sales, the language needs to change, and I don’t think that those departments should be forced to understand finance. Finance is a giver of information, so they should be translating it into the relevant languages of their stakeholders.

CIARAN RYAN: Wow, that’s a very refreshing viewpoint, where you see yourself as part of the of the service organisation that’s delivering information and service to the people who are actually out there in sales and in production, no doubt.

ROXANE LEITA: That’s it, finance for me, and that’s what I really enjoyed about it is that you get to see all the different parts of the business just by looking at the transaction flows in the ledger. You can see when premium income comes in or when sales are made because that hits a certain account in the ledger and the expenses come out and what does that mean. So you get to see the different parts of the business, whereas if you work in sales, you see the front end, you see the clients, if you work in marketing you’ll also see a different side of the business. But finance sits wherever you want to say, at the back, underneath, but it spans across all of those departments. So you can actually see what’s happening in all of those departments and that’s why I think it’s a very powerful function because you’re able to put all those pieces together and translate that into the relevant information. You have a lot of information, in this day and age businesses have a lot of information, but it’s the businesses that are able to translate that information into something valuable to the business that are actually going to grow and create more value and be valuable businesses going forward. I see finance as a critical role in that function and in the future.

I have two sons, so I’d also like to think that I’m bringing them up in a way that they’re going to contribute to society.’

CIARAN RYAN: A couple of quick questions, we’re wrapping up here. What would you like your legacy to be?

ROXANE LEITA: That I have contributed to something that has left the world in a better place. It sounds a bit trite but one of Investec’s key phrases is living in society and not off of society. So it permeates throughout the whole business that you’re actually giving back, you’re contributing, you’re making something better, and that really appeals to me. So businesswise, for our insurance company, we want to be there when you’re not able to be there for your family. So it’s making other people’s lives better. I have two sons, so I’d also like to think that I’m bringing them up in a way that they’re going to contribute to society and also make it better in their small way. It’s not necessarily being someone big or out there, but it’s just contributing in your own small way to making things a little bit better.

CIARAN RYAN: What do you do in your downtime?

ROXANE LEITA: I like to cook. My youngest son has a very sweet tooth, so I’ve had to expand my cooking skills, not just to doing different culinary cuisines, but to actually baking cakes and muffins and brownies and sweet things.

CIARAN RYAN: You’re a great mom, if you can do that for your son, that’s lovely.

ROXANE LEITA: [Laughing] So that’s really what I do in my downtime.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay, so it’s looking after the stomachs of your two young sons. Are there any books that you would recommend?

ROXANE LEITA: One of the books that I really have an affinity for is the biography that

Walter Isaacson wrote about Steve Jobs. There’s just so much on the internet and so much that you can get about Steve Jobs, but what I really liked about the biography is it just added a lot more colour to some of the events that have happened, and little are publicised or there are movies about Steve Jobs. It gave me more insight and that’s really what I liked about seeing how his mind worked. I think it was absolutely incredible. So that for me was a was a really good book that I’d recommend to anyone.

CIARAN RYAN: I’ve read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs as well and it is fascinating. He’s got a lot of the colour, the good and the bad. He was not the best husband and parent and nor was he

the best boss. But I was just looking at this yesterday, the market capitalisation of Apple, the company that he founded, is $2.5 trillion. It is an absolute stunning creation. This is all something that came out of his idea, we’re going to change the world with these technological devices, not just devices, not just the hardware, but the way that he brought a vision into reality, I think that he was just the most remarkable person.

ROXANE LEITA: Absolutely, I agree with you there.

CIARAN RYAN: Did you have any other books that you wanted to mention?

ROXANE LEITA: I’m a fairly prolific reader, fiction and non-fiction, and if I had to choose a fiction writer it would be the late Terry Pratchett, I just love the social commentary that he has in his books and sometimes it’s just nice to get away from any technical aspects and just immerse yourself in some weird and fantastical world. But what I also like to do, with all the books coming out to either movies or series, I love reading the book as well as then watching the series, like Game of Thrones. Not to criticise how the series haven’t done the books justice but it’s always interesting to understand what needed to be left out to translate the books into cinema. So that’s what I find very interesting about doing that comparison.

CIARAN RYAN: Nicolaas, any final thoughts, comments, observations before we close off here?

NICOLAAS VAN WYK: I think Roxane is a holistic and complete CFO, she mentioned so many things, the technical studies, the management skills, the books that she reads and then also looking after her children and being part of a family. So that takes courage just on its own. I can also hear how she aligns her values with Investec’s, being part of the communities that we operate in. So thank you very much, Roxane, for sharing your wisdom.

ROXANE LEITA: Thank you very much, I really appreciate the kind comments.

CIARAN RYAN: Yes, and we hope to welcome you to our CFO network, to the CFO designation, which Nicolaas has spoken a little bit about. I do think it creates a culture of excellence within the senior finance profession, that we speak the same language, we understand what is expected of us, we understand the role of leadership that is involved there. Finance leaders are the engine, no matter what anybody tells you, these are the people who are driving the economy forward. I don’t know if you agree with that, Roxane, but that’s a very firmly held view from where I sit.

ROXANE LEITA: Once again, you’ve summed it up very concisely, very nicely.

CIARAN RYAN: Great. Well, we’re going to leave it there. It was an absolute pleasure to have you, Roxane. Fascinating stories, fascinating insights. Please stay in touch, we’d love to have you back on.

ROXANE LEITA: Awesome. Thank you so much, Ciaran. Thank you so much, Nicolaas. I really appreciate it.

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