Special Feature

Gen Zs in Finance – Are we in Good Hands?


Qinthara Fasya, DigitalCFO Asia | 3 March 2022

As they complete their schooling, Gen Z is beginning to enter the workforce in greater numbers. After experiencing major disturbance in their own lives as a result of the epidemic, Gen Z is likely to be hyper-aware of the emotions of others in the workplace, aided by cutting-edge technology. According to a study conducted by Oracle, 91% of Gen Z would trust a robot to manage their organization’s finances instead of humans. The increased sensitivity and flexibility of Gen Z will assist CFOs and finance directors. These are important aspects of emotional intelligence that have come to be demanded of CFOs and Finance Directors as their positions changed dramatically during the epidemic.

DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Erik Ligtenberg, COO of Lendela, to find out how Gen Zs are like in the workplace and if they are ready for these C-suite roles in the near future.

New Talents are in High Demand

With artificial intelligence (AI) assisting in data collection and processing, the future generation of finance experts will spend less time on traditional accounting activities and more time on:

  1. Business Strategy
  2. Leadership
  3. Communication and Storytelling
  4. Negotiation

We asked Erik on his experiences when working with a Gen Z colleague and he shares that:

Yes I have and I must say, it has been a great experience working with every single one of them. One of the areas where Gen Z really stands out here at Lendela, is how they naturally go out of their way to help our customers.

The lending market is traditionally highly intransparent, resulting in customers rarely finding the right loan provider that matches their specific situation. This means customers are overpaying, or worse – not even being able to get a loan. For loan providers the lack of transparency is also a bad thing; those with low interest rates and exceptional customer experience are struggling to stand out from the crowd and make it known to the public how good they are.

At Lendela – the first consumer-centric loan comparison platform in Southeast Asia – we are helping people who need a loan to get the best personalised offers from 30+ licensed providers. It is truly game changing. And while we’ve built a strong tech platform to enable our service, our employees are the ones who are really making the difference. It is here where I see Gen Z shine; with their strong, intrinsic motivation to help people, they’ll be going through great lengths to ensure the customer ends up satisfied and with the best loan possible. The excellent reviews Lendela is getting are really a testament to that.

Non-tangible asset appreciation

More AI support will allow applicants with non-traditional skills to pursue careers in finance, and will place a higher priority on intangible qualities such as:

  1. Diversity
  2. Hustle and Grit
  3. Collaboration
  4. Creativity

As Gen Z adjusts to their finance team, CFOs and Finance Directors will need to exhibit empathy and patience by focusing more on intergenerational mentorship and assistance. Outdated E-learning courses should be examined and updated with Gen Z in mind to help them move and integrate into the company.

Are Gen Zs ready to lead a Finance Team?

Definitely. I’ve come to know Gen Z as hardworking, ambitious and especially never shy of making great efforts in the spirit of teamwork. This is what a leader should encompass – not just delegating but also leading by example. I believe their strong aspiration to do good and help people is an additional strong advantage, also in finance. It ensures a true customer-first mindset is not only present among the customer service team, but also across the wider organisation. This is essential to the success of Lendela.

Erik Ligtenberg, COO of Lendela Singapore

Highly Beneficial to Organisations

Social media sites exposed Gen Z and a small fraction of Millennials to regular streams of real-time feedback in the form of likes, comments, and shares. With this generational shift in finance comes the requirement for CFOs and Finance Directors to use Cloud accounting software.

These younger generations, as genuine “digital natives,” demand the same degree of connectedness and access to real-time data to carry out their daily responsibilities. They are not only specialists in social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, but they are also used to and comfortable with high-level software that is critical to future company continuity.

They would anticipate to utilize such applications in their employment since they already have the knowledge and abilities to do so. Organizations that use out-of-date software, such as spreadsheets, will be considered “behind the times” and risk losing out on Gen Z’s developing expertise and talents.

It’s natural for Gen Z to want to communicate at work in the same manner they can connect and interact with individuals on social media. It would be anticipated that employees have immediate access to corporate information, resources, career advancement, training, feedback, and direct engagement with management and coworkers. Those businesses who are unable to provide this degree of technology in the workplace can expect less demand from Generation Z to join them.

Erik shares that in a customer-first company like Lendela, it’s essential to offer a customer journey which seamlessly transitions between our online portal, our chat function, voice calls, email and whatsapp.

As Gen Z have typically grown up communicating through different devices and apps, it comes natural to them to manage such complexity well. I see my team giving customers the support they need and even building trusted relationships with them, all while flicking through our different communication channels with ease.

It should also not be forgotten that Gen Z are the customers of tomorrow. So including bright minds who represent the customer in your team, will be the key to offering a truly great customer experience. And that’s exactly what we’re going for at Lendela.

Every generation, however, communicates in a unique way. Without the Internet, Baby Boomers were accustomed to delivering figures on typewriters and calculators when they entered the financial role in the office. Millennials, on the other hand, grew up with the Internet and learned to manually enter data into Excel spreadsheets on office computers.

The impact of Gen Z joining the financial sector will be enormous, and it will undoubtedly shake things up. This generation will have a very different view on technology, their jobs, and the notion of success in life and in the workplace than Millennials. The time for CFOs and Finance Directors to consider this is now. Before you know it, Gen Z will be in the workforce.

55th anniversary of Singapore-Japan relations


Kotaro Tamura, Former Advisor to Premier Shinzo Abe, shares his views on how policy makers and business leaders from both countries leverage the strong bi-lateral ties to navigate through these volatile times.

Qinthara Fasya | 13 July 2021

Singapore-Japan relations are celebrating their 55th anniversary this year. This long-standing relationship, which includes both countries’ involvement in ASEAN+3, opens up a plethora of business and political prospects across these borders. Changes in trade patterns as a result of digitalization, according to Singaporean Minister Indranee Rajah, clear the opportunity for the regional grouping to increase infrastructure expenditures as it aspires to remain a vital component of the global value chain.

Such infrastructural development, in particular, will benefit trade relations between Japan and Singapore, as Japanese officials want to capitalize on Asia’s vibrancy to improve the Japanese economy. Similarly, Singaporean companies interested in entering the Japanese market can take advantage of the current expansion opportunities. DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Kotaro Tamura, Former Senator and Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Economic and Fiscal Policy, Japan, to learn more about how countries can leverage strong bi-lateral ties to get through these tough economic times. 

Kotaro’s experience as a consultant to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Kotaro Tamura was in a position to provide direct fiscal and economic policy advice to the Premier from 2006-2007. Tamura served as head of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism during his public career. In the Upper House, he was in charge of the Official Development Aid program for emerging nations.

During his term, Kotaro’s major goal was to make Japan’s economy more global and to form Japan’s own sovereign wealth fund. With the amount of money Japan possesses, it is critical to mobilize these funds. Kotaro was the driving force behind changes to the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) that allowed for the hiring of a professional CIO and CFO as well as a change in portfolio and fund management style.

Kotaro is adamant that, in the face of population decline and an aging population, Japan’s pension funds must be mobilized in order to remain sustainable and improve returns by taking appropriate risks. After his 1 year tenure as Senator and Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Economic and Fiscal Policy, Kotaro continues his mission as a parliamentarian to establish the sovereign wealth fund. 

Covid-19 Outbreak 

Kotaro experienced Covid-19 in both countries, spending his time in Japan at the very beginning of the pandemic, and in Singapore during the rest of the pandemic evolution. 

“Singapore is one of the best countries that can manage the Covid-19 situation very well, so I really respect and want to praise the Singaporean government for that.”

Katoro Tamura

In the case of Japan, he observes that it is particularly difficult since, unlike Singapore, the Japanese government is unable to use force against its population according to the Japanese constitution. The Japanese government could only rely on the discipline of its citizens to ask and advise Japanese citizens on staying at home as much as possible. Kotaro notes that the Singapore government has the authority to make laws and decisions overnight such as border closures whereas the Japanese government would take a period of months to carry out similar laws.

“It took the Japanese government 2-3 months to approve a Covid-19 cash handout to its citizens, whereas it was instantaneous when Singapore announced its cash handout to Singaporeans. This is because Singapore has a centralized ID system that connects the government to Singaporean citizens directly. That’s the difference between the two countries,” he said.

Japanese citizens try to protect themselves from the Covid-19 virus through their own discipline, which is evident in their daily low numbers – as compared to other G7 countries. 

However, Japan is experiencing the largest bankruptcy in the F&B industry, which is much worse than the last global financial crisis. Due to these changes, the Japanese government is more open to implementing digitization in organizations – in which these organizations have benefitted and are growing rapidly. 

What can Politicians and Corporate Leaders do to ensure traditional businesses keep up with the region’s technological adoption and progress

Kotaro believes that politicians and corporate leaders need to open up their markets to more young people and foreigners in the near future. This is a challenge for Japan as it is still a seniority system-driven country with a single race and single language country. Having more diversity, according to Kotaro, would help drive significant changes in traditional businesses that are easing into technological adoption.

“Young people are good at new technologies and they can handle it while older people may have some difficulties to adapt to it but it is not impossible. Having the guidance of these younger ones would bring organizations to greater heights.”

Kotaro Tamura

Moving into a post-pandemic world, more foreign talents from countries such as Singapore, U.S. and India should be welcomed to work in Japan and help Japanese countries to transform. With Japan being a big frontier, these foreign talents could implement more technologies into the society. 

Kotaro sees the necessity for Japanese politicians to inspire young people and foreign talent to help alter society and businesses, as well as present organization management to embrace greater diversity into their team, in order to ease the transition into digitalization. 

As an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and a senior advisor to the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, Kotaro Tamura will be having a virtual course on 2 – 6 August 2021. Titled ‘Insights into Regional Politics, Economics and Culture for Japanese Business Leaders and Policymakers’, the course will delve into how various issues such as the intensifying US-China conflict, technological adoption and climate change will impact Asian geopolitics and geoeconomics, and how Japanese business/political leaders can navigate them to seize opportunities. (Registration closes on 31 July 2021) 

Extended Planning & Analysis – Market Research Survey


The vision of xP&A, or Extended Planning & Analysis, is to increase the velocity of forecasting and incorporate Business & Operations drivers by horizontally and vertically linking data, systems, and people. To fulfill this vision, the method behind xP&A is to apply FP&A tools and related processes to additional departments within the organization. This enables the organization to unify, integrate, and align planning and forecasting activities throughout the entire value chain.

For the finance teams, the implementation of xP&A processes minimizes the time and effort required to assemble and share forecasts and plans. This empowers increased collaboration for all functions of the organization to better understand the financial implications of operational decisions.

What is the current automation rate of xP&A? Does your FP&A and Business & Operations planning teams collaborate on forecasts and planning? AFP & Jedox are conducting a quick market research survey to find out more about the role of intelligent automation for extended planning & analysis among companies. CFOs & Finance Leaders, do take part in our survey today by clicking on the link below. Thank You!

How a New Mindset Can Empower Oracle Database Users

An updated mindset can empower businesses

By: Dan Ashton, Rimini Street | 21 April 2021

Photo by @emilep on Unsplash

The paradigm shift in the wake of COVID-19 has companies asking whether it is possible to continue to run older and stable Oracle Database releases to help maximise the ROI of their existing software. Indeed, roughly one-quarter (26%) of surveyed Oracle Database licensees stated that they don’t receive any valuable database enhancements from Oracle, and 47% wished they got more enhancements from their Oracle upgrades.

What’s needed to tackle this challenge maybe isn’t an updated database, but an updated mindset among organisations that have already invested heavily in their infrastructure. The key for businesses is to embark on a journey based on their business goals and available funds and resources, as opposed to adhering to a roadmap where the vendor dictates when upgrades and migrations are required.

What Oracle Users Are Saying
Perhaps because many organisations have abundant Oracle Database instances, 68% of respondents in a recent Rimini Street survey indicated they’re struggling to stay current with the latest releases. Similarly, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said they have older database instances that aren’t current or would no longer be fully supported by Oracle as of December 2020 (or don’t know).

This creates a conundrum for these organisations because it may expose them to significant security and operational risks while still paying high annual support fees to Oracle for its Sustaining Support service. According to Oracle’s own Lifetime Support Policy, databases under Sustaining Support no longer receive new updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, critical patch updates, new upgrade scripts, or certification with new Oracle or third-party products/versions.

Oracle Sustaining Support typically costs 22% of license fees for these old fixes, files, and patches with little to nothing new. And even if they spend the time and budget to upgrade to attain full support, they are likely not seeing any value in the enhancements provided. It’s no surprise, then, that 97% of survey respondents said that the high cost of Oracle Database is a key challenge. 

Implementing a Business-Driven Roadmap

Overall, the survey results suggest that most Oracle Database licensees are frustrated with high annual maintenance fees and costly forced upgrades under Oracle support. For businesses invested in the Oracle ecosystem, there are three things to consider that can help free up resources that put them in a better position which benefits them, not the vendor:

1. Upgrades. Many Oracle users with third-party support have upgraded using an archive created before they leave Oracle support. Upgrades aren’t typically required because the database is working fine and little or no new functionality is needed or available. In fact, the Rimini Street survey found that over a quarter (26%) of Oracle Database licensees stated that they don’t receive any valuable database enhancements, while 47% wished they got more enhancements from their Oracle upgrades.  

If there is a need for the latest essential release that is not available in the archive, users can and do return to Oracle to upgrade. Analysts and experts have found that there is typically no penalty; even if Oracle initially threatens this, customers are generally welcomed back with open arms and many at a discount. As Gartner has stated, “about three-quarters of the enterprises that leave third-party support end up rebuying their licenses at a future price (with significant negotiated license discounts and annual maintenance fees less than what was paid to the third-party provider).”

2. Security. Those who opt out of Oracle support to take charge of their business roadmap will no longer receive security patches from Oracle. However, some believe that vendor security patches provide a false sense of security.  Traditional vendor patching models are considered dated and ineffective because they are often incomplete, published late, and applied slowly, which can leave enterprise systems vulnerable for months, sometimes even years. 

The next-gen layered security approach, regardless of whether a business uses third-party support, is to implement a database-specific security solution that includes zero-day protection through compensating controls like virtual patching, which are often more comprehensive, more effective, faster, safer and easier to apply than traditional vendor patching.

3. A new mindset. One of the biggest obstacles in divorcing from Oracle support for Database Administrators (DBAs) is a fear that third-party support will jeopardize their jobs. But third-party support can actually enhance DBAs’ value since it allows them to be reallocated to more strategic projects and learn new skills. 

DBAs are also usually accustomed to solving their own issues because Oracle’s support process can be difficult to navigate, 54.6% of survey respondents find that they resolve the majority of their Oracle Database cases on their own without Oracle (or are not sure). But third-party support engineers become part of their team and take on personal responsibility for resolving their issues helping eliminate research to resolve issues.

It All Begins with Self-reflection

Organisations looking to leave Oracle’s pricey support to instead focus on pursuing their own business-driven roadmap should first assess and remediate the risk of anything that is not fully supported. They need to review their Oracle Database releases and understand which are not fully supported or will not be fully supported by Oracle in the coming months. In fact, by July 2021, only two of the current Oracle Database releases will be fully supported by Oracle. Running releases that are no longer fully supported can create operations and security risks. 

Next, organisations should consider third-party support to enhance their financial strength, flexibility and control while continuing to use the dependable Oracle Database. Leveraging independent, third-party support for Oracle Database can save up to 90% on total maintenance and support costs while delivering the freedom to further leverage software investments and move to a database of choice when it makes sense.

Finally, best-in-class third-party support fully supports Oracle Database releases without requiring upgrades. Organisations reduce costs and improve service for ERP applications like SAP, EBS, JD Edwards and PeopleSoft that run on Oracle Database with third-party support.

All of this leads to a final question for organisations that find themselves in this position. Who do you want to decide the roadmap for your business — your own executives, or Oracle?

About the Author:
About the Author:

Dan Ashton is the Senior Director, Product Marketing at Rimini Street. Mr Ashton is responsible for Oracle Technology and Strategic Services at Rimini Street and has over 18 years in enterprise product marketing and marketing management. Previously he was principal product director, Procurement Marketing, at Oracle and has also held several key product marketing roles at SAP/Ariba.