DCFO Spotlight - Page 9

Turning Crisis into Opportunity for HR Departments


Qinthara Fasya | 11 November 2021

Nigel Lim shares how companies can turn crisis into a HR opportunity

Co-Founder of Payboy

It takes a lot of effort to run a Human Resources department. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the way we work is continually shifting, and most businesses can’t forecast what will happen in a few weeks or days, so they must learn to manage their employees swiftly.

Companies must invest in new technologies to both improve the employee experience and raise the bottom line in order to satisfy the requirements of a contemporary workplace and to recruit the finest grade people. DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Nigel Lim, Co-Founder of Payboy, on how automation helped alleviate HR stresses throughout the pandemic.

Harnessing Technology to Improve Employee Experience

Many businesses rely heavily on their workforce. When firms utilize technology to collect data from their employees in order to monitor and nurture their staff, they may create a tight feedback loop. Companies may successfully evaluate and improve indicators such as staff turnover, employee happiness, and new recruit onboarding time by implementing these technologies. We would be able to continue to empower our staff and maintain a great working environment if we were given concrete statistics on how they are doing and how pleased they are.

Due to the increased awareness and limitations, several industries have seen a drop in sales income. The supply chain has also been interrupted as a result of the epidemic.

As firms’ bottom lines suffer, they may be forced to make pay reductions in order to stay afloat. We’re seeing more of these instances, and we’re doing everything we can to help companies keep their employees motivated and engaged during these trying times.

The biggest problem for firms right now in terms of HR is knowing the COVID-19 requirements and ensuring that all workers are aware of the safe distance measures that must be implemented. This is a problem that labor-intensive companies like hospitality, retail, and food and beverage must deal with.

Employers must ensure that employees are engaged at the same time. Prior to the outbreak, everyone was at work. As a result, communication became simpler. However, at this point, everyone works from home, and contact isn’t as regular as it once was.

Transiting from Offline to Online

Payboy takes care of the entire employee lifecycle starting early on from the recruitment process. They also support employers in tracking candidate applications to a certain job posting. Once companies find the right hire, we then ensure that onboarding is seamlessly done via our system.

New hires will have easy access to all the other modules of the system such as applying for leave and making claims.  If they have to track attendance at work,  they can easily record and access data via Payboy’s mobile app as well. The system is designed to be user-friendly and deployable in modules, making it ideal for start-ups and small businesses.

Using a variety of digital tools such as Slack, Jira and Google Suite to automate initiatives across all business functions, Payboy makes use of available APIs on the digital tools to make sure data is synchronised, and different functions get the data they need on demand. With the Xero integration, finance functions can easily synchronise payroll data to the different general ledgers for reporting needs.

Nigel understands the challenges that companies may face when transiting from offline to online. Based on his experience working with various clients, companies usually start with digitising their payroll, followed by exploring an attendance tracking module and express claims processing as well.

Companies struggled with the transition to remote working because they depended on old technology or on-premises equipment. People didn’t get paid, and firms ground to a standstill without this crucial business function and the trained payroll specialists who delivered it. With the help of competent HR technology, Payboy was able to lead businesses in the correct way.

Supply chain and inflation headwinds hamper the global recovery – What should CFOs do to mitigate the risks?


5 November 2021

Bernard Aw

Economist for Asia Pacific, Coface

As year-end approaches, the global economy is in better shape than it did at the end of last year. The recovery trend owes much to the progress in vaccination rates, which allows countries to relax mobility restrictions and reopen part of their economies. But the situation remains uneven across the world, especially among emerging economies, including Southeast Asia. The rebound has disproportionately benefitted export-oriented economies, while services-dependent ones continue lagging.

Supply constraints and rising costs are now threatening to undermine the global recovery. For the past year, a lack of containers and ships, port congestions, overstretched production capacities, semiconductor shortages, and Delta-variant outbreaks have disrupted manufacturing. Labour shortages and inflation add to the list of risks and uncertainties, while an economic slowdown in China and its energy crunch also contributed to a less favourable recovery momentum.   

The biggest worry in Asia is a marked slowdown in trade if all these headwinds escalate. Strong trade flows have been a key support for economic growth in Asia Pacific, with robust demand for electronics and commodities benefiting a number of markets in the region. Powerhouse exporting markets for electronic products such as South Korea and Taiwan continued to record robust annual export growth rates of 26.5% and 30.1% in the third quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, key commodity exporters, Australia and Indonesia, registered annual export growth rates of 25.9% and 37.8% for the January-August period respectively. The strong reliance on international trade and regional supply chains to drive growth suggests that there is a non-trivial downside risk of Asian economic activity being constrained if tight supply conditions and escalating costs are prolonged.

Margin pressure and cash-flow risks

Companies face increasing margin pressures as limited pricing power means their ability to pass on higher operating costs (linked to rising raw materials and energy prices) to customers is restrained. Reduced profitability or worse, suffering losses would raise credit risks. According to Coface’s Asia corporate payment survey, the longest payment delays were seen in construction, transport and retail during 2020, sectors most hard-hit by the pandemic. The survey also showed that overdue payments lengthened in the automotive and chemical industries.

When assessing cash-flow risks, we monitor bills that are more than six months overdue (ultra-long payment delays – ULPDs) because in our experience, 80% of ULPDs are never paid. The same survey indicated that sectors most impacted by the pandemic also experienced an increase in cash-flow risks, with retail, construction and transport reporting the largest increase in the share of companies recording ULPDs that are over 2% of their annual turnover. Other sectors with ULPDs over 10% of their annual turnover were energy, retail, construction, ICT and transport. To mitigate these credit and cash-flow risks, more firms turned to credit management tools, with the share of companies rising from 50% in 2019 to 54% in 2020, according to our survey. Credit reports and assessments remained the most commonly-used, followed by credit insurance.  

China’s slowdown

Another serious concern is that the economic slowdown in China could spill over to Southeast Asia through a weakening in trade, with the region already hit hard by the Delta-variant wave. Southeast Asia became China’s largest trading partner in 2020, overtaking the European Union. Despite global merchandise trade shrinking due to the pandemic, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN rose by 7.0 per cent from 2019 to US$731.9 billion at the expense of China’s trade with its other major trading partners. 

Coface estimates that every percentage point drop in China’s GDP growth rate will see a half-a-percentage point decrease in ASEAN’s GDP growth rate. Among ASEAN member states, Singapore may be the most affected by China’s slowdown in the ASEAN region, followed by Thailand and Malaysia, primarily due to relatively greater trade flows between these countries and China.

We forecast China’s economy to grow by 7.5% this year, expecting a notably slower GDP growth in the second half after a first-half expansion of 12.6%. Several factors are behind the deceleration in Chinese economic activity, some of which are long-term drivers. These include policy tightening in credit growth – particularly in the real estate market, softening domestic consumption reflecting a drag from Delta-variant outbreaks, and energy rationing for industries. Another factor is related to China’s “Dual carbon” goals to (1) ensure the country’s carbon emissions peak by 2030 and (2) that it achieves carbon neutrality by 2060.

Furthermore, as China enters into its heating season, the country faces a power shortage in several provinces, prompting electricity rationing to safeguard fuel stocks. Nearly 20 provinces have been curbing power for industrial and, in some cases, residential users, since late August. 

The combined share of industry value-added in affected provinces is about 17% of China’s GDP, including key manufacturing hubs (Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang), suggesting that temporary closures of factories will weigh on economic growth. Energy-intensive industries were the most affected. Furthermore, flooding in northeast China, which are key coal mining regions, hindered efforts to boost domestic coal production to ease the energy crunch. 

Considering the role of China in international trade and in regional supply chains, an economic slowdown would pose significant downside risks to Asian economic activity, but also in other emerging markets in Latin America, Middle East and Africa.

As we move towards 2022, the overall economic outlook remains positive but significant headwinds remain. While further progress towards widespread immunity from the coronavirus should provide economies with greater confidence to transition into endemicity, there are still uncertainties over the course of the pandemic in the coming year. 

What should CFOs do to mitigate the risks?

CFOs usually consider these macro-economic trends in the business forecast for the company. Understanding and evaluating how these risks impact their customers’ financial strength and payment capability is also important. However, not every company has the expertise and resources to monitor the financial stability of every customer, supplier and trading partner.

Traditionally, CFOs will buy business information reports from credit agencies to assess the financial strength of new customers or review the financial performance of existing customers. The major disadvantage is that the pieces of information collected only capture the data in the past year. It will not tell you what may happen to the company in the next 12 months. Besides, CFOs also need to spend additional time to further analyze the data to make a correct credit decision. It could be very challenging if they have hundreds of customers from different countries.

Nowadays, some online solutions in the market could provide different product options for CFOs to choose to mitigate the risks. Under the ICON online platform developed by Coface, CFOs can select the ‘Credit Opinion’ to get a quick answer on how much credit they could grant to a new customer. Credit opinions is the credit limit exposure based on the insurer’s payment history and credit insurance underwriting knowledge. Accessing a 200 million company database worldwide and supported by the risk underwriting expertise of a trade credit insurer, ‘Credit Opinion’ is a reliable tool for immediate credit decisions for new customers. 

For a regular review of existing customers, ‘Debtor Risk Assessment’ is a good option. It is a simple score that reflects the probability of payment default of a company in the next 12 months or a company capacity to honour its short-term financial commitment. The assessment score is based on the analysis of the latest country risk, sector risk, company financial performance, payment experience, historical trend, and the credit insurer’s globally linked payment data. CFOs could have a full review of the financial quality of their customer portfolio at one click.

Moreover, the ICON platform could also provide a monitoring function to alert CFOs when there are any changes in their customers’ situation. Whenever there is a non-payment incident, a downward trend of the sector, or a political incident that may lead to a change in the financial assessment of a company, there will be an alert message in the system to remind CFOs to take timely business decisions.

To get a full bad debt protection, trade credit insurance is the one-stop solution in which CFOs can outsource the credit management function to the credit insurer. CFOs can access an online policy management tool anytime to consult the credit worthiness of new or existing customers and request a credit guarantee before a transaction. The credit insurer will then monitor the financial capability of the company and communicate with CFOs of any changes. In default payments or bankruptcies, the credit insurer will indemnify the loss according to policy terms. Talk to an expert and find out the best credit solution that can serve your needs.

Electronic Signatures: A Sign of Things to Come

By: Tatiyana Emylia, DigitalCFO Asia | 5 November 2021

First came e-signatures.

Now, with DocuSign’s Agreement Cloud fast approaching, Vice President (VP) & General Manager (GM) of the Asia Pacific & Japan regions Dan Bognar says wet signatures may soon be a thing of the past.

Ever heard of DocuSign? Even if you haven’t, as long as you’ve ever signed an electronic signature, congratulations: you’re probably one of their more than one billion users worldwide. Founded in 2003, the firm hit the ground running with the popularisation of electronic signatures—or e-signatures, for short—and are now moving on to proliferate company simplicity and productivity with their Agreement Cloud. DigitalCFO Asia delves further into the fog of digitalisation in this realm with Dan Bognar, VP & GM of APJ at DocuSign.

A sign of the times

Legacy paper based agreements like contracts and acknowledgement forms are notorious for the volume of paperwork they generate. According to Bognar, they’re often very slow, expensive, and highly error-prone. This is where the beauty of DocuSign comes in: their e-signatures seamlessly automate these business processes using workflow. Rather than engaging in laborious, manual paperwork, all of a company’s systems can be streamlined and connected through DocuSign—be it their ERP systems, procurement systems, HR systems and more. The goal here is simple: the company prides itself on reducing cost and improving productivity and sustainability. With more than a million customers under their belt, it’s clear that this is no empty claim.

Tipping the scales

The thought of contract digitisation may make some uneasy, considering possible threats to cybersecurity and privacy. However, DocuSign assures the highest level of security and reliability. Upon every individual e-signature, a Certificate of Completion is automatically generated, which provides a full audit traceability of the individual who signed through their IP address. This means that the e-signature recipient can be assured of full traceability in the event where identity and authenticity comes into question. To bolster security further, DocuSign promises stringent security in the software, including data protection, identity verification, and anti-tamper controls. In this sense, Bognar argues that electronic signatures may in fact be more airtight than any wet signature has ever been.

Beyond beefed up security, DocuSign boasts of another upside to digitalising agreement workflows: lower costs. On average, each electronic agreement saves USD$36: an accumulation of physical hard cost and moving savings as well as the valuation of productivity improvements through leveraging upon automation. Even to more conservative CFOs, it’s easy to see how this USD$36 can add up per agreement.

The cloud on the horizon

The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses—those forward-thinking and risk-averse alike—to pivot to remote and hybrid ways of working to ensure business continuity. In the process, prior barriers to adopting software that companies like DocuSign have lowered as more firms incorporate digitised workflows. Earlier this September, DocuSign announced that they’ve seen a 50 per cent year on year increase in global  revenue for their second quarter ended July 31.

With higher, more broad ranging acceptance of e-signatures and agreement cloud solutions, DocuSign plans to further sink their teeth into Asia though leveraging Singapore as its primary hub into other growth markets in the region. This includes markets like South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Hong Kong. The company is currently hiring more in Singapore as well as transitioning a number of key roles from Australia into the country in light of the expansion.

Further beyond regional expansion, DocuSign hopes to expand its venture into its agreement cloud solutions. Beyond e-signatures, DocuSign now offers a suite of solutions across the entire agreement lifecycle, including key stages of preparing, signing, acting on, and managing the agreement. This lifecycle divulges into two prongs DocuSign is currently looking into: Contract Lifecycle Management and Artificial intelligence. The former looks into generating large volumes of documentation at scale, while the firm aims to develop AI algorithms that can provide valuable insights for legal and risk teams based on historical agreements.

With an influx of agreement cloud solution adoption as well as DocuSign’s plans on further enhancement into the software, it’s clear that there is no better time than now to hop on the bandwagon.

What Does It Take To Be A Senior Finance Manager?


Nydia Bird | 29 October 2021

woman working at home and making video call on laptop
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Considering that there is now a bigger focus globally on being financially conscious, the demand for senior finance managers shows no sign of slowing down. In Singapore alone, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) estimates that the financial sector jumped by 6% in the first half of 2021. Wealth management, banking, and insurance positions are said to be among the 6,500 most common new job openings this year.

So what does it take to be a senior finance manager? Here, we are going to break down the basic requirements and list the skills that make these professionals so sought after.

Educational Requirements and Licences:

A bachelor’s or master’s degree

Any senior finance manager must have completed a bachelor’s degree in either accounting, economics, or finance. Depending on the specific company or employer, managers may need to have earned their master’s degree within the same concentration. In some cases, before finance managers can move into senior positions, they need an MBA. What’s more, the colleges or universities they graduated from must be recognised as an official educational institution. Meanwhile, though not necessary, a CPA or CFA is an added plus for most employers looking to hire finance managers.

Significant and successful work experience in the field

A senior finance manager must have at least 5 years of proven experience in the financial field. Senior finance managers must also have successfully completed their tasks and tenure as a junior and associate in their specific concentration. This means that if a senior finance manager works in the retail industry, they will need to have the knowledge and abilities relating to the aforementioned retail focus.

Important Soft and Hard Skills

Strong business investing acumen

Part of a senior finance manager’s responsibilities includes providing advise on an employer’s investment strategies. Investing is an incredibly nuanced area, so finance managers must have a good understanding when it comes to various investment opportunities. Traditional options, like stocks, require patience and diligence. This is especially important, as it is described as a “zero-sum game” by mutual fund veteran John C. Bogle in his book, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing. The stock market can be a profitable option for diversification. Though aside from traditional options, a senior finance manager must be well versed on the intricacies of contemporary finance disruptors as well, like cryptocurrency. This allows them to invest effectively, without compromising the company’s money.

Ability to translate financial reports into actionable points

Aside from interpreting a company’s numbers and records, a senior finance manager must have the added ability to translate these into actionable recommendations. Because they are able to oversee the business’s cash flow, they can give relevant suggestions that cover the present and future financial well-being of the company. According to Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! by Greg Crabtree and Beverly Blair Harzog, it’s these financial metrics and the insights gained from them that make a business thrive. This is because such insight grants a company a greater understanding of their finances, allowing them to allocate funds to areas that will benefit them in the short and long-term.

Good interpersonal collaboration and communication skills

As a senior finance manager, the responsibility to liaise and correspond with different departments and third-party vendors requires acute collaboration and communication skills. Considered as two of the most in-demand soft skills in 2021 by LinkedIn, these enable senior finance managers to accurately monitor a company’s compliance, oversee the operational processes undertaken by junior finance officers, and make sure that their recommendations are being appropriately carried out with regards to the operational needs.

Digital literacy with the newest software

To keep up with the massive amount of data, senior finance managers must also be proficient in the latest financial software. Although Excel is still widely used by many finance professionals, using such outdated software can result in errors, reduced data transparency, and can increase complexity. Hence, senior finance managers must also be up to date when it comes to the latest software like SQL, Access, and LucaNet.

Senior-level finance experts have always been essential in the business industry. However, with the expected economic bounce-back, senior finance managers will be absolutely vital for both small- and large-scale enterprises in the new normal.

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FPAC: Remaining Agile Through Constant Change


A global symbol of excellence, the Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis Professional (FPAC) designation establishes a set of core competencies for the corporate financial planning and analysis (FP&A) profession. It is the only credential that is specific to FP&A; it is forward-looking and assesses the ability to see the big picture.

By Brooke Ballenger, AFP | 29 October 2021

AFP recently caught up with Junn Nguyen, FPAC, senior financial analyst at Illumina in Singapore

to discuss his decision to earn the FPAC, and how it has affected his life and career journey.

AFP: How did you get your start in FP&A? 

 I started my career as a financial trainee under a management program with General Electric. During my two years of the program, I had four short-term assignments with various functions within finance such as controllership, operations finance and FP&A. I started to gain experience with FP&A, and decided to pursue a permanent position in FP&A after the program ended. 

AFP: What are two or three core aspects of your day-to-day job?

Junn: I own the regional FP&A process for APJ Commercial, so the core aspects of my day-to-day job include forecasting and first-line business support regarding deal structure and margin analysis.

With regards to forecasting, I am the bridge between the global FP&A team and regional commercial team, where I am responsible for keeping the regional forecast cadence robust and the forecast submission consistent and accurate.

With regards to deal analysis, I support the financial modelling for new deals, and provide advice and support in margin analysis, scenarios analysis, and other financial advice to preserve my company’s financial health.

AFP: What is something that you would like to do in the future in FP&A? 

Junn: My experiences so far are with commercial teams. In the future, I would like to join the FP&A for other departments such as facilities or manufacturing plants to expand specific skill sets with different business partners.

AFP: Are there certain skills or training that help you in what you do now? 

Junn: Microsoft Excel is very important for me to fulfill my day-to-day job. In addition, understanding information systems and knowing how to use BI tools are necessary for my success at work.

AFP: What skill are most important for you to add over the next couple of years? 

Communication skills are critical as I follow my career path. My business partners are senior managers and directors within the company, and the ability to influence and inspire them is very important to me. 

AFP: What is the most critical FP&A issue you are facing today, and can you share your approach to it?

There is so much uncertainty with the external environment nowadays, so FP&A personnel need to be agile and flexible with the constant change. My response to this issue is having a risk-balanced approach to forecasting, and always document assumptions in detail so that I can flexibly make changes to my forecast as the assumptions change. 

AFP: Why did you decide to earn the FPAC credential? 

The FPAC credential is essential for people who specialize in FP&A, and my company provided me with the resources to follow the program. I knew the credential would equip me with the knowledge and recognition to further proceed with my career path focus in FP&A.

AFP: How has the FPAC credential impacted your life/career?

While I just received the FPAC credential, a lot of the knowledge I gained from the course helped me with the issues I face at work and in figuring out how to deal with them in more structured way.

AFP: Would you recommend the FPAC to others? Why?

I would recommend the FPAC credential to those who are determined in following their career with FP&A. There are not many credentials for FP&A professionals, and as FP&A grows within the complexity of the business world, this credential helps employers recognize the distinguished professionals. In addition, the FPAC credential helps professionals connect to others with the same passion so they can open their network and collectively refine FP&A as a critical function within corporate finance.

Learn more about the FPAC designation.

Nine Rules to Manage Performance Metrics: Tips from FP&A Experts


Anything with a number has a measure, but a metric drives a business decision. How do organizations use metrics to drive the right business decisions, and how do they manage the proliferation of metrics when we have the capacity to measure and store everything? In today’s shifting financial environment, companies need to ensure their metrics guide the best outcomes that align with the organization’s goals.

Brooke Ballanger, AFP | 29 October 2021

Learn more about the worldwide importance of FP&A and corporate finance

In a recent AFP Asia-Pacific webinar, “9 Rules to Manage Performance Metrics,” Bryan Lapidus, FPAC, AFP’s director of FP&A Practice, moderated a discussion on the lifecycle of performance metrics to share insights and “rules” on how to manage a company’s metrics.

Joining Lapidus for the discussion were Hari Ramani, controller and reporting analysis lead at Royal Dutch Shell in Shinai, India; Lance Rubin, founder of Model Citizn and co-founder of Full Stack Modeller in Melbourne, Australia; and Kevin Wong, Asia finance lead for Blue Bottle Coffee in Hong Kong, China. These finance experts provided rules for each performance metric lifecycle: creation, maintenance and retirement.

Summary: 9 Rules to Manage Performance Metrics


1) Propel the Company into Action  

According to Ramani, making metrics as clear and legitimate as possible for the future is one of the most important metric drivers. “Too often, metrics are set up in a way that tell us what has happened in the past and what is happening right now, but it does not tell us what needs to happen in the future,” said Ramani. “While your metrics need to intuitively inform you if there is a big gap towards your ultimate goal, they also need to tell you how to take your business forward.” 

In addition, Ramani encourages companies to drive toward clear targets with interim checkpoints that allow for validation against its ultimate potential. That way, it is easier to know what needs to happen in the next couple of quarters to achieve a number for a long-term goal.  

2) Construct with “SMART KISSes” 

Smart is an acronym for attributes of well-defined metrics: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reliable, Time-bound. “Whatever metric you are going to create, it needs to be specific — specific enough that you can take action,” said Rubin when explaining the concept of SMART goals. “You want to make sure that you are setting a target that is achievable and reliable, as this is an important part of setting up something that you can rely on.” 

Rubin also explains how an important manta around metrics is to “Keep It Super Simple” (KISS). While you might not have the metrics mastered right away, get started by testing through time on simple key performance indicators (KPIs). “The SMART KISSes are really about aiming for those key goals around SMART for the metric, but then getting started, testing it, using it, and being agile,” said Rubin. 

3) Align the Organization from Top to Bottom 

According to Wong, top-level metrics need to break down to a fundamental level — something that all levels of the organization can agree on and support. When we work in large organizations, different levels will have feasibility care over different metrics. “That is why I think it is important for us as FP&A individuals to be able to help the organization break down goals into their bits and pieces, into the breaks that build the castle or the house,” Wong said.  

Wong also believes that metrics and individuals should be able to draw a line from strategic to operational to tactical levels of operational metrics. “Each level should have a higher purpose where they understand that by achieving these metrics, it helps achieve certain goals that lead to the strategy and vision for the company.” 


4) Validate Externally 

According to Ramani, validating metrics externally means constantly having an eye on what is happening outside of your organization. It is important to look at what is going on in the shifting market, how the competition is responding, and how you need to position yourself in both the immediate and long term. 

Ramani notes that you need to be able to say, “My operating assumptions have changed, and my metrics need to follow suit. I need to ensure that the metrics reflect the current condition that I have externally, and the responses I am putting together internally.” 

Ramani also explains that it is important to constantly check on driving your business direction, as you set out those metrics for a reason. Make sure the metrics are aligned with your strategy and goals. 

5) Validate Internally 

Metrics need to be reviewed on a timely basis by all levels of the management team, according to Wong. He explains that metrics should ultimately lead to a higher goal or direction. “We have to constantly validate and evaluate if the formula is still correct,” said Wong. “And a lot of times when the market changes, like with the pandemic, we must re-evaluate the formula again.” 

6) Automate for Execution 

Rubin encourages companies to automate the production of metrics and reports, thereby allowing it to be visible and have a greater impact. Automation allows for an easier management process to gather how metrics are being looked at and moving over time. 

In addition, Rubin explains the importance of authenticity and interpretation when maintaining metrics. “It needs to be driving good performance but also aligned to people and helping the organization,” said Rubin. 


7) Define Obsolescence 

“There is a reason why we have put the metric in place, but it is also crucial that we know when the life of a metric is done,” said Ramani. “Once you have hit defined targets, the metric itself can evolve or morph into something else; we need to be carefully watching out for whether or not that metric is still relevant.” 

Ramani also encourages companies to check if the metric continues to help define or drive the right behaviors. “Check those behaviors as soon as you create the metric, and constantly watch out for those signs of obsolescence,” said Ramani. “If the targets are achieved, or if the metrics themselves are no longer relevant, consider retiring them.” 

8) Reflect on the Purpose for Creation 

When focusing on the retirement of metrics, Rubin suggests reflecting on why it was created in the first place. “If we create it to drive revenue, and it is not driving revenue, then the purpose no longer exists,” said Rubin. “The key thing to understand is the pattern of what was evident at that point in time and what has changed.” 

Rubin also advises to avoid unnecessary vanity KPIs. “It is important to understand and even document what this KPI is for,” said Rubin. “Define it and make it available to people. This provides an opportunity to reflect on not just facts changing but maybe your goals and strategy are changing too. The KPI is not always needed when the facts have changed.” 

9) Balance Consistency with Utility 

According to Wong, companies must balance the consistency of maintaining certain metrics or getting rid of certain metrics with the utility of the metrics. “It is important to remove unnecessary KPIs that would remove focus for the teams, but also important for us to keep in the high-level KPIs that will be kind of timeless and useful for the business in the long term,” said Wong. 

Wong also advises to assess controllables that the team can manage, and how to focus that on KPIs rather than spreading attention across all KPIs. “Some KPIs will be timeless and will always be an indicator of the overall business health and direction,” said Wong. “At the same time, we always have to consider those special circumstantial KPIs that would be useful to focus on in the short run.” 

Learn more about the worldwide importance of FP&A and corporate finance on AFP’s Asia-Pacific page.

CFOs play a key role in ensuring business continuity by improving financial risk management solutions


Qinthara Fasya | 28 October 2021

David Brown

Chief Commercial Officer, IPC

The pandemic demonstrated the benefits of being able to trade securely and compliantly at any time, from anywhere, and on any device. In this unpredictable atmosphere, this is a big competitive advantage. A freshly created organization, for example, wants a solutions provider that can deliver the most up-to-date, efficient, and cost-effective technology that is scalable.

All organizations are now acutely aware of the necessity of resilience – both now and in the future – and want a solution that includes a future proofing component, allowing them to adapt and preserve their competitive advantage in the face of any unanticipated events or problems. DigitalCFO Asia spoke with David Brown, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), IPC on the role of CFOs in ensuring business continuity.

Significant Shifts in Demand for Technology

Since the pandemic, IPC has observed and handled two distinct streams of advancements in technology and services. The first was voice trading, which raised demand for flexible working options such as business continuity plans (BCP), mobility, work from home (WFH), and online collaboration. This put institutions’ BCP to the test, as several organizations with rudimentary BCP discovered they were ill-equipped to deal with BCP on such a large scale. As BCP, WFH, and mobility necessitated ’emergency budgets’ and action plans to maintain their voice trading capabilities, several companies were compelled to examine their aging voice trading systems.

Second, IPC witnessed a significant change in electronic trading as trade and volatility rose, as did market data bandwidth requirements, resulting in new trading opportunities. Overall, the pandemic had a little influence on electronic trading because the basic notion of electronic trading is that players may trade from anywhere as long as they have access to the internet. IPC Connexus solutions have long supported electronic trading with connectivity, and now Connexus Infrastructure Services helps trading firms expand trading activity quickly and efficiently by assisting with remote hands work and infrastructure in remote locations with reduced lead times and operational overheads.

As many people worked from offshore sites owing to travel limitations, IPC observed a growth in the need for and interest in remote work. Due to travel limitations that caused some carriers’ network fault maintenance and support activities to be delayed, IPC’s ability to provide various, carrier-neutral connectivity solutions enabled us to assist customers in re-routing traffic in a timely way, allowing them to continue trading.

CFOs in Adapting Finance Operations to combat Risk Management

Financial operational resilience is a top goal for institutions and regulators in the Asia-Pacific region, where jingoistic regulatory heterogeneity exists.

The pandemic has also compelled authorities to speed up regulatory frameworks and increased awareness of where trading networks’ future needs to be. This also need excellent business leadership in order to position themselves to operate effectively, which may involve operational changes and investments in vital infrastructural services. Many CFOs consider improving their financial risk management techniques to be a top priority.

Despite the fact that CFOs have been ensuring business continuity, as APAC recovers, institutions are trying to adjust their operations in order to boost productivity, encourage a hybrid work environment, and strengthen resilience in the face of future crises. This aligns with industry expectations that the pandemic will hasten the adoption of digital technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based goods.

Overall, Business Leaders have the chance to create long-term and sustainable improvements to how financial institutions operate as the primary facilitator.

The challenges we are seeing in the Asia Pacific region are predominantly centered around regulation and security. Putting in place the infrastructure for individuals to work on a longer-term basis from remote locations. For employers who are also members of the financial services community, this challenge is further compounded by the need for security, reliability, resilience, and the ability to demonstrate compliance with exacting regulatory requirements.

Being able to trade at any time, from anywhere and from any device in a way that is secure and compliant is a huge competitive advantage during this uncertain climate. For example, a newly established firm requires a solutions provider that can offer the latest, most efficient, and affordable technology that is scalable. Additionally, all businesses are now very much aware of the importance of resilience – both now and for the future – and require a solution that offers an element of future-proofing, enabling them to adapt and maintain their competitive edge for any unforeseen events or challenges that may come their way.

David Brown, Chief Commercial Officer, IPC

Software driven solutions, in particular cloud hosted applications, will continue to take center stage and hold a prominent position in the region. For reference, the SaaS market is anticipated to grow at 34.28% CAGR during the forecast period 2018- 20238 in Asia-Pacific. This in turn will spur greater financial inclusion as APAC organizations extend budgets to focus on collaboration, productivity and security tools to support remote working and innovation. For the financial services industry, an era of accelerated cloud adoption is predicted and already taking place largely as a result of the greater willingness to take on cloud based models, hybrid included.

Other factors comprise the increased regulatory clarity as well as the sheer growth in banking requirements (compute, storage, networking, and application workloads). 

The rapidly changing business landscape created by the global Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on CFOs’ role and key finance processes such as budgeting, forecasting, and FP&A, making 2021 an unpredictable year for organisations around Asia Pacific. Join DigitalCFO and CCH Tagetik for an exclusive webinar to see how CFOs and finance executives can use predictive analytics to make optimum real-time decisions based on integrated data, allowing them to emerge stronger from the pandemic.

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Razer officially opens new SEA HQ in Singapore


By: DigitalCFO Asia Newsroom | 27 Oct 2021

The new environmentally sustainable SEA HQ at One-North will have a retail store and cafe.

Photo from Razer’s website

Razer officially launches its strategically-located Southeast Asia Headquarters at One-North, Singapore’s technology and business hub, to facilitate Razer’s hyper-growth strategy in the region. The ceremony was officiated by Mr. Heng Swee Kiat, Deputy Primer Minister of Singapore who applauded Razer for shaping and nurture the gaming community in Singapore and around the world.

According to Razer’s co-founder and CEO, Mr Min-Liang Tan, Razer is planning to expand their headcount in Singapore from 600 to 1000 employees. DigitalCFO Asia has reached out to Razer for comments on whether the increased headcount will include any accounting and finance hires.

Standing tall as one of the most distinctive architectural landmarks in one-north, Razer’s new headquarters features an iconic black façade with acid green lines streaking across the building – a tribute to the brand’s instantly recognizable aesthetic. The interior was designed to inspire creativity and innovation, while facilitating the free flow of information amongst Razer staff. Razer’s offices in the United States, Germany and Singapore are already Great Place to Work®-certified and with the new Southeast Asia Headquarters, Razer is poised to extend its propositions to be a place to do great work.

The new SEA HQ will also features a retail store (RazerStore) and cafe (RazerCafe), both of which are open to public. In a statement released by Razer, RazerStore Singapore will offers fans a chance to sample and explore Razer’s full range of award-winning products to truly immerse themselves in the next generation of gaming experiences. Visitors will also be able to get a first-hand look at Razer’s latest innovations and creations. The RazerCafe introduces a new F&B concept that marries technology, design and refreshments through a state-of-the-art robotic barista arm. Guests can order a beverage at the store or pre-order a cup of coffee via the RazerCafe App and collect it in-store. The AI will then make an unrivalled aromatic latte, tailored precisely to each customer’s unique tastes.

RazerStore and RazerCafe will be open to visitors from 28 Oct 2021.

The new workspace also embodies the company’s sustainability initiative #GoGreenWithRazer, Razer’s ten-year plan to preserve nature and protect the environment. Equipped with eco-friendly features, such as solar panels to power parts of the day-to-day operations and sensor-enabled lighting system for energy effectiveness, the building has been conferred the Green Mark GoldPLUS certification by the Building and Construction Authorities in Singapore. Fulfilling a brand promise that was made earlier this year, Razer’s new Southeast Asia Headquarters incorporates sustainable practices such as removing all single-use plastics and utilizing BAMBOOLOO – The Nurturing Co.’s brand of sustainable paper products.

JustCo, Asia’s top flexible workspace provider, has also teamed with Razer to provide businesses with a comprehensive workspace solution and better support the implementation of their hybrid work or workforce decentralization arrangements within Razer’s creative hub. Razer has been a key player in the development of Singapore’s technology and gaming ecosystem since its inception, and the company remains committed to helping the country achieve its Smart Nation goals.

Razer will continue to forge close partnerships with various stakeholders and esports federations in Southeast Asia to support the growth of esports in the region. Furthermore, Razer has allocated a designated space in its new regional headquarters just for hosting esports workshops, training sessions, and supporting local esports teams and talents.

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The State of Accounting in 2022: What Will the Future Hold?


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 27 October 2021

Find out which trends work for your practice from the latest reports through the Xero Roadshow Asia 2021.

Xero’s mission, from the very beginning, has been to help SMEs and their advisors to succeed. As businesses continue to be challenged by the pandemic, it has become more important than ever for businesses and accountants to work closely to navigate the new normal and move forward. To better understand the trends and opportunities shaping the SME business landscape today, Xero recently surveyed over 500 accounting and bookkeeping practices in Hong Kong and Singapore to gain the insights needed to identify opportunities and facilitate planning for 2022 and beyond.

For the fourth year running, Xero investigates key metrics such as client numbers and revenue growth — providing insights to develop best practices for marketing, advisory services and more. The results of the latest report will be revealed at the upcoming Xero Roadshow Asia 2021. The event has been deemed as a must-attend for accounting and bookkeeping leaders looking to stay at the forefront of their profession. 

Some topics covered in this year’s report, include:

The growing importance of apps

According to respondents in both Hong Kong and Singapore, digitalisation is fast becoming a key priority, with two of the most popular questions asked: 

  • What apps should we be considering for our practice to use?
  • What are other practices like ours currently using?’

The report will reveal the top results for the three common practice types (compliance, simple advisory, complex advisory) . From data automation to forecasting, find out which apps and functionalities might benefit different accounting practices. 

The evolving metrics of success

The report additionally looks at the metrics which determine a practice’s success. It reveals various revenue streams by practice type, the average annual revenue of respondents Hong Kong and Singapore and the most popular tactics employed to attract new clients. These metrics can serve as a benchmark for your own practice, to help plan and prioritise for the upcoming year. 

The impact of tech adoption and COVID-19

While the pandemic has accelerated the shift for many businesses and practices moving online, some have been more receptive to others. The report examines the common barriers to adopting cloud technology and reveals their perceived disadvantages according to practices and SMEs. With this data, accounting professionals can better understand the hesitations and roadblocks to adoption as well as how to address these concerns so clients can realise the advantages that come with using the right digital tools.

Here are some of the things Xero’s partners have said about last year’s report:

“The report allows me to benchmark my company against other companies in the industry to provide insights on what I should stop, continue, and start doing.” — Candice Teo, Founder of ASL Advisory Pte. Ltd 

“It’s great to see how our revenues, growth rate and hours to serve are tracking against other practices. It inspires us on how to get additional sources of revenue and see where other firms are successful. [It is] also very illuminating to see that “tech-loving accountants” which is what Harvest Accounting is landing at, can get highest revenue per client, but also lowest client retention (years). As such, tech-loving combined with humanity is key to good client retention!” — Bryan Zhao, Founding Partner at Harvest Accounting 

“It gives us a good gauge of where we stand and how our peers are doing.” –Darren Yeo, Partner at D Next Stop
To find out which trends work for your practice from the latest reports, attend Xero Roadshow Asia 2021.

From fiduciary to visionary, CFOs should consider themselves as change agents for their organisations: Ayelet Rotblat


Qinthara Fasya | 20 October 2021

Ayelet Rotblat

CFO of SAP Southeast Asia

Regardless of industry – be it pharmaceutical or automotive – organizations throughout the world have realized the need to become more flexible, resilient, and sustainable during the last year. They had to rethink and alter their fundamental business strategy to stay ahead in the digital era.

According to a BCG survey, 80% of businesses across industries intend to accelerate their digital transformation. They will be able to become even more relevant to their consumers as a result of this acceleration, which will help them future-proof their firm. From fiduciary to visionary, CFOs must consider themselves as change agents for their organizations. Finance is at the heart of many business decisions, and new procedures introduced by the finance department are frequently the first step in digital transformation projects.

DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Ayelet Rotblat, who was recently promoted to Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for SAP SEA in June, on what CFOs should focus on in the next few months.

Developing Key Financial Strategies – even with WFH

In today’s post-pandemic economic climate, financial organisations need to remain nimble and enable new services-based business models. On top of that, there has been an increased focus for financial organisations to drive stability in times of high volatility and as businesses face new risks.

As CFOs, we have the data and critical responsibility to predict future business realities, to plan accordingly and to ensure we are ready to support our customers with the right tools in place.

Ayelet Rotblat, CFO of SAP SEA

We have also seen many examples of organisations that took new services to market overnight to be more attuned to the needs of their customers. For example, treasury is key to optimising working capital and cash to keep the business afloat. Due to the current unpredictability, CFOs need to have a solid enterprise-wide planning process to model and predict future business outcomes holistically. With that, they can identify business gaps ahead of time with smart predictive planning – all made possible with artificial intelligence. 

Over the past 18 months, CFOs have stepped up in their strategic roles. They will continue to identify new sources of liquidities, reimagine business continuity and focus on driving compliance and rigor in cybersecurity to help companies emerge stronger in an unpredictable business climate.

With remote work arrangements, critical finance and accounting functions, Ayelet notes that year-end audits and quarterly reviews had to be done virtually – a challenge for employees who could not be physically on-site with clients and teams. However, with the right technology and skills in place, some companies could navigate this transition to virtual work smoothly and successfully. Moreover, internal, and external digital collaboration quickly became the option for conducting financial business in the short term.

It has become clear that standardising, automating, and simplifying financial processes allow business continuity in any workplace. At SAP, it was a seamless transition for the team – whether it was making payments on time, signing documents, month-end closing and reviewing quotations, they were easy to manage.

We are seeing more and more CFOs take the lead in evaluating the transformation and acceleration of financial processes that are suitable for their companies.

Where should CFOs pump their money?

Since the subjects they must manage are more diverse than previously, CFOs are thinking more holistically. Data protection, cloud and infrastructure regulation, and information security are among them.

The idea of having only one version of the truth while adhering to regulations is quite appealing. As a result, business process intelligence will become increasingly crucial, as will interpreting data (through data mining) and identifying holes in present procedures.

Sustainability is a big topic these days and, in many cases, championed by the CFO of the organisation owing to their oversight of the company spend and the correlation between sustainability improvements in the company to financial impact. Companies are evaluating their approach to sustainability, especially with the increased expectations of global businesses to tackle climate change, spearhead diversity and inclusion and mitigate biodiversity loss. As they deliver positive impact on society and the environment, these businesses are also looking for the right technology to obtain insights, track performance and accelerate their progress. 

The deployment of AI and machine learning will certainly be central to the enablement of financial institutions in the region. We are already witnessing intelligent automation in most finance processes. Specifically, we have seen automation being deployed for revenue accounting, bank reconciliation and cash applications to name a few. While somewhat in the early stage, we can expect automation to be fully integrated into ERP solutions or can predict scenarios by working with data scientists (rather than developers).

Transiting smoothly to a digitally operated workplace

SAP adopts a three-pronged approach to help businesses navigate the new workplace environment with business-transformation-as-a-service. Firstly, they strive to deliver a modular and homogenous integrated suite of products and services. Secondly, they enrich these offerings with intelligent technologies. Thirdly, they adopt a cloud-first strategy so that their customers can increase their operational efficiency, agility, resiliency and speed of innovation. 

RISE with SAP is an approach to help companies pave their way to run as an intelligent enterprise with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, connectivity to SAP Business Network, and a selection of industry cloud solutions for any organisation’s core business. The benefits they aim to bring to organisations include lower total cost of ownership, more innovation, more speed and agility, and seamless collaboration with suppliers, customers, and service providers. Ultimately, the goal is to help organisations across the globe become intelligent enterprises by connecting with a community of networks and run a sustainable business.

Financial organisations must stay flexible in today’s post-pandemic economic context and allow new services-based business models. Furthermore, in times of extreme volatility and when firms face new risks, financial organisations have placed a greater emphasis on driving stability. Standardising, automating, and simplifying financial procedures has become obvious as a means of ensuring company continuity in any organization.

Setting the Stage for Success: The Three Ps to Progress


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 18 October 2021

Things might be looking up, but the impact from the pandemic continues to be felt across many industries and businesses of all sizes. Now is the time for business owners to step up and out to embrace new ways of working and navigate on-going challenges. Whether you are an accounting practice owner, practice staff or a freelance accountant, you can bolster your knowledge and harness success in the new normal. Find out how to channel the three Ps to progress, which will be covered in detail at the upcoming virtual Xero Roadshow Asia 2021.

Learn how to use the three Ps to propel your business forward at the next virtual Xero Roadshow Asia 2021.


The Xero team works tirelessly every year to deliver best-in-class products for our partners and customers – with 2021 being no exception. By leveraging the latest technical and technological developments in the industry, Xero provides SMEs with the best solutions for every stage of the accounting process. Tune in to the ‘Best in Product’ keynote by Xero’s Education Manager, Daniel Hustler, for a recap of Xero’s top product releases and all-time favourites; then learn how you can apply them in your day-to-day workflows. You will also be privy to the latest updates and announcements in our pipeline.


We have all experienced a significant amount of disruption in our lives recently. Although the road ahead is still unpredictable, we need to be able to support ourselves, look out for others, and most importantly, thrive through change. In one of our key sessions, SUPERMEGABOSS CEO Amy Posey, who is also a neuroscience speaker and the co-author of ‘Wild Success’, will help you understand what your brain goes through in the face of uncertainty, uncovering tips and tools to show you how you can lead yourself and others to find the silver linings in every situation.

To prepare your practice and team for the economic and business rebound, Xero will also be sharing key sales and marketing tips from Xero’s SME experts Rachael Cho and Nachi Leong, so you can give more value to your current clients while winning new ones. The insights you gain in our ‘Winning the Rebound’ session will guide you in identifying and benchmarking opportunities and strategies for 2022.


If your practice services clients in Professional Services, Retail, F&B or E-commerce, don’t miss ‘Xero for Industry Verticals’ series which will shine a spotlight on Xero’s vibrant ecosystem of connected apps and how it can provide you and your clients with a seamless workflow. Find out ways on how you can approach app conversations with your clients and how you can enhance your service offerings by riding the wave of digital transformation.

Collecting and receiving payments are an integral part of the day-to-day accounting workflow, which is why Xero continues to partner with leading financial services providers to offer best-in-class payments experiences for you and your clients. During the ‘Payments in Xero’ session, you will learn how its partnership with Stripe and other payment partners can open new avenues for your clients to send and receive payments seamlessly – getting you paid faster in return.

Get your free tickets to Xero Roadshow Asia 2021 to find out how to take your accounting practice to the next level.

Look Inwards to Expand Outwards: Timothy Williams


Overcoming pandemic-related obstacles mean more than hurling hurriedly developed technology solutions at them. Regional Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of FCM Travel Timothy Williams shares the need for businesses to have a comprehensive long-term strategy more than anything else.

Tatiyana Emylia | 13 October 2021

Timothy Williams

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of FCM Travel

It has been almost two years since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic. By now, Zoom calls are a well-integrated routine, loungewear is on trend again, and regurgitations of the phrase “the new normal” spur jaded eye rolls rather than looks of trepidation.

Where many have been—and are still—cooped up at home, some industries have been hit harder than most: it’s not unusual to see yet another restaurant or travel agency buckling under the pressure. What may be unusual though, would be the sight of global business travel management business FCM Travel thriving instead, where the company recently announced plans for further expansion into Japan just last month. Regional CFO Timothy Williams spoke to DigitalCFO Asia on how they made it happen.

Answering the calls of their customers

FCM Travel has long positioned themselves as a business with a major focus on global data and analytics. With a number of technology platforms already in the works, COVID-19 was not a catalyst but an accelerator for their launch to meet ever-evolving client demands. They recently rolled out the FCM Traveller Hub, a web portal for managing and booking travel while accommodating traveller preferences, travel policies, and approval hierarchies. The interactive resource is a one-stop shop for clients to get real-time updates and information on corporate travel plans.

Beyond literal travel, the firm also rolled out a Travel Policy Benchmarking tool, which had been in the works long before the pandemic washed up on our shores. The tool enables clients to compare the efficiency and success of their own travel management programs against those of their peers globally to see where they stand and which elements they may want to reevaluate. FCM Travel also launched its AI reporting tool just last year. Comparable to a chatbot, the natural language processing tool can answer questions concerning travel data for answers in the form of actionable insights.

FCM Travel’s ‘Airport-like’ Office Concept – PHOTO BY: Qinthara Fasya

The secret lies in stabilisation

FCM Travel was able to stay afloat thanks to their strong foundation laid by their long-term strategy. Rather than come up with reactionary and ultimately weak measures in response to the pandemic, it was treated as just another “blip on the radar”, albeit a long-term one. The firm stuck to their strategy and worked around COVID-19 rather than let it change their goals. While the path to accomplishing them certainly got longer, sticking to their guns kept FCM Travel focused and enabled them to hone in on what they already had been pre-pandemic.

Knee-jerk measurements are asking for trouble

Digitalisation is definitely hot on everyone’s lips, but if businesses are only thinking of transforming and changing things right now as a reaction to the pandemic, such a strategy may be doomed from the start. Rather than chasing a boat they may have already missed, the key thing businesses need during this sink-or-swim period is to have a long term strategic plan for the business—and ensuring that all leadership are fully committed to it. A long term plan, Williams explained, should be everything-proof: the strategy should be able to counter pandemics, economic cycles, even government turmoil—the business should not deviate from it regardless of the obstacle.

“When it comes to COVID, we don’t sit there and whine and complain, because we can’t do anything about it. What we can do is keep on the mission we were always on,” he said.

With a roadmap set in stone, the main principle businesses should abide by is to keep optimising it. Whether this means streamlining processes or growing the capabilities of their team, there is no end beyond the horizon: good can always be better.