Watch Graeme Saggers’ presentation from the Tax Roadshow.
Economist Dr Iraj Abedian:
“The private sector is SA’s only hope of pulling ourselves out of the ditch.”
South Africa is in crisis, and the private sector is the only sector that can change this. This is according to Dr Iraj Abedian, professor of economics, former chief economist of Standard Bank and CEO of Pan African Investment and Research Services speaking at an event co-sponsored by The Finance Team on Thursday 5 October 2017, he described South Africa having “an oblivious government with an economy on the brink.”
South Africa faces a global climate of uncertainty and nervousness. Gross fixed capital formation was in negative territory in four out of the past six quarters. The rand has weakened recently, despite a temporary uptick. According to a recent report from the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, business confidence is the lowest it has been in 32 years. Rising public debt now constitutes the biggest risk within the economy.
With all of these factors combined, if our GDP grows more than 0.5% this year “it will be almost miraculous,” said Abedian.
In his opinion, South Africa’s biggest threat is not the economic climate but the state capture that is permeating so much of our government and the private sector.
“Believe it or not, from a purely economic point of view, South Africa is not in a bad space,” said Abedian. “The structure of the economy is not vulnerable … it’s just got a rotten government and a whole lot of bad businesses. The economy is suffering under our people.”
The so-called “Gupta Leaks”, a recent spate of revelations alleging sinister and corrupt relations between political leaders and business owners have contributed to a huge loss in confidence. The parallel factions that have arisen in the ANC have led to policy uncertainty, a key consideration for investors and rating agencies. A fierce, at times even violent battle for leadership is underway in the governing party, growing more and more heated as its December conference approaches. For the first time since democracy, the ANC is not the foregone winner of the next national elections, and international investors are skittish about the changes that could usher in.
Add to this the fact that South Africa has been downgraded to junk status by both Fitch and S&P rating agencies. If Moody’s — which currently has South Africa sitting at one notch above junk with a negative outlook – joins its peers in a ‘junk’ outlook on the country, it will have massive effects on the country’s cash reserves. Bondholders will be legally required to withdraw from South Africa within 6-12 months. New investors will likely come in, but at a worse rate and on less favourable terms.
“Investors and consumers have lost confidence,” said Abedian. “All businesses are in a very uncertain, very doubtful, volatile state of mind. At the moment … business [is] in a state of what, at best, maybe a holding pattern. But that’s not the way to grow an economy.”
So how do we steer the country – and the economy – in a new direction? By leveraging our strongest asset, said Abedian.
“From a global perspective the comparative advantage of South Africa is not its government, not its resources; it’s the strength of its private sector.”
The private sector and its investment in the South African economy “is the only hope that we have of pulling ourselves out of the ditch we are in,” he said.
But this means clearing out the rot, so to speak. It starts with business holding itself to a higher level of accountability – as investors, drivers of growth and purveyors of ethical norms. It means becoming corporate activists, said Abedian, who recently resigned from the board of Munich Re because of the company’s continued engagement with audit firm KPMG after they were implicated in the Gupta Leaks.
The private sector “has to stop being sheepish. It has to be a real ethical social stakeholder.”
With all the twists, shifts and turns the economy has taken this year, it certainly hasn’t been easy-going for cash-strapped South Africans. Now that we’ve kissed the winter blues goodbye, it’s time to welcome the warmer season with open arms and there’s no better way to do it than with a spring clean… of your finances!
“Take this opportunity to get organised. The more organised you are, the more in control you are. You want to be in control of your finances – not the other way around,” says John Manyike, head of Financial Education at Old Mutual.
While it sounds easy in theory, in practice there are often unexpected curveballs that can throw even the most prudent of budgeters off the straight and narrow.
“Changes in both the economy and your personal life affect your budget, which is why it should be revisited on a regular basis,” says Budget Insurance’s Susan Steward.
In September, petrol prices are expected to rise by 59 cents a litre and diesel by 56 cents a litre. Electricity tariffs are expected to increase by more than 20%. And as August stats indicate, South African consumers remain under tremendous pressure to clear debt.
Preliminary statistics from Stats SA reveal that there have been 48 169 civil summonses issued for debt in June, valued at more than R350 million.
Here are a few guidelines from the experts on how to balance our budgets between September’s petrol hikes and increasing consumer debt and living costs.
1.First things first: get rid of debt
Make sure to pay off the most expensive debt first. “This is the debt that carries the highest interest rate and is costing you the most. For example, if you have a bond at a 10% interest rate and a personal loan at a 20% interest rate, consider paying off the loan first,” says Manyike.
Winter shopping splurges on credit may have accumulated, but if you received an annual increase in July, you may have a little more in your bank account and – as much as it can be tough – use it smartly by paying off outstanding debt, Steward advises, or strategise a smart budget plan to make the necessary payments.
2. Cut costs
This isn’t about scrutinising every cent you spend but rather establishing spending patterns to identify possible areas for saving. A good way to do this is to look at your monthly bank statement and see where most of money is going. You may be surprised at just how much you’re spending in certain areas and how by making small changes you could keep your spending in check.
3. Less is more
Examine your monthly budget and if your expenses exceed your income, cut out things you can do without. Just like cleaning out your closet or selling old equipment that is taking up unnecessary space, try to eliminate all expenses and purchases that are not essential. Be very clear on the difference between needs and wants.
4. Remember your saving goals
If you didn’t stick to your New Year’s resolution to save more money this year, it’s not too late to start now. Make a plan to set up a monthly debit order to an investment account or open a tax-free savings account, increase your pension fund contribution and request the 13th cheque option from your employer, if available to you.
5. Save for the unexpected
The amount you save towards an emergency fund depends on your personal circumstances. Ideally an emergency fund should cover three to six months’ living expenses, says Steward, adding that while this might seem like an insurmountable amount to save, just by putting aside R250 a week, for example, you have yourself R1 000 at the end of each month.
“If you don’t have savings, you aren’t getting ready for the day when you must pay out more money than you have. This day can come in the form of an unexpected medical bill, or family emergency, and it is at times like these that your savings can save you,” Manyike points out.
6. Track your spending
Try establish where unnecessary spending goes and how you can reduce it by making small changes to save big. Keep track of expenses in your statements and find a pattern to re-strategise saving methods.
7. Outdated fees must be phased out
You could be paying subscription fees for magazines you don’t read, a gym you don’t go to or paying for a bank account you no longer use. End subscriptions and use the money in more efficient places.
8. Payments that don’t reap rewards
Always read the fine print or terms and conditions when it comes to gaining loyalty points from reward programmes. Falling for a quick programme can have you overspending for smaller returns. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
9. Know the money lingo
Research, read and seek advice on the best methods to save your money and make it go further for longer. Understanding investments, pension funds and the best account to save and spend your rand can certainly take you a long way.
Article by: www.moneyweb.co.za
Cash flow management for small businesses is one of the greatest challenges for business owners and managers. The process of managing the outflow of cash to settle accountants payable utilising cash inflows from cash sales and accounts receivable, is a daily task. By successfully managing to balance these two activities, companies are able to generate the optimum cash flow for the business.
How do you ensure that the cash coming in is sufficient to cover all the outgoing payments that are required? It really seems like the simplest of equations, but in reality, correctly managing cash flow and your cash flow conversion cycle is what will keep your business alive. Failing to manage your cash flow conversion cycle will place your business under huge pressure and often results in business failure. With the tips contained in our infographic, for managing cash flow, you’ll find ways to balance out your cash flow cycle, including taking out a small business loan or line of credit to cover inventory, seasonal demand or hiring new employees etc.
Here are some tips on Cash flow management for small businesses:
- Compare prices from more than one supplier and select the supplier that offers the best product for the best price. Continuously re-evaluate suppliers and services to ensure they remain competitive.
- Ask suppliers if they offer a settlement discount if their account is paid immediately and not only after 30 days which is the norm.
- Ask venders to extend payment dates to fall in line with your incoming cash flow
- Evaluate all your payees. Don’t just automatically settle the small amounts first. Consider their terms and understand how essential they are to your business.
- Maximise your payment effectiveness. Automate your payments through internet backing so your accounts are paid on time.
- Consider using a business credit card to settle bills immediately and pay the amount off over time or apply for business credit cards for staff who need to incur business expenditure regularly at various adhoc suppliers, thereby cutting down the paperwork and man hours associated with a reimbursement process.
- Offer your clients to the opportunity to pay you on a retainer basis. This will help them to manage their cash flow better and if a retainer is agreed, it will help you better manage the timing of cash coming into the business
- Research. Always make sure that your pricing of goods and services remain competitive when looking at companies within the industry that offer similar goods and services. Whilst conducting research, consider if there are any additional goods and services that you should be offering to your clients or customers.
- Track payments so you are aware of the timing of incoming cash, perhaps offering a discount on early settlement that will encourage clients to settle their accounts early, thus improving the cash flow of your business.
- Set earlier time frames for accounts to be settled. If you can request only COD or EFT payments as they are a lower risk way of trading. However, if clients or customers do need terms, then reduce these terms from 60 days to 30 days.
- Run credit checks on new clients or customers. It is critical for companies whose core business is manufacturing to undertake this prior to orders being processed. Nothing can sink a company faster than when they have manufactured an order of customised or company branded items that cannot be sold to defray expenses. Always ask for a 50% deposit before commencement of any order.
- Make sure you send out clear itemised billing statements so clients or customers are fully aware of what they owe and the length of time this has been outstanding.
- Divide work into stages or phases and request payment for each stage or phase before work continues on future stages or phases.
How much does your business really cost to run? You get the financial reports at the end of each month; you know the overall figures. But how much does it cost to produce a finished product every day? Are you charging too much or not enough? And what are the costs you don’t even realise you’re incurring?
A survey in Canada revealed that many business owners are out of touch with their own expenses. Almost 40% of them said that they don’t think they are selling their goods at market value. A quarter of respondents felt they were undercharging.
The report says small business owners are missing opportunities and risking their chance of success over the long term by not knowing how to accurately value what they sell.
“If you are undercharging for something you put your blood, sweat and tears into you are undermining your business,” says Rob King, director of small business at Intuit Canada.“That means not being competitive or as profitable as possible.”
In order to accurately pinpoint the right price for your goods, however, you need to have an accurate idea of your costs. It is here that many businesses come unstuck. If you’re battling to determine exactly how your expenses are adding up, we recommend outsourcing financial management. Your appointed financial executive will look for hidden costs in the following areas:
Insurance is a necessary cost for almost every business, but it can mount up annually without going checked. Often, insurance companies come in with a low fee quote to secure your business, and then hike up their tariffs every year without you even noticing the extra expense. Outsourcing financial management will allow your financial specialist to conduct a cost analysis on this particular area of the business over the past five years. When outsourcing financial management, your specialist should make it a habit to get new quotes on business insurance every second year. This will ensure your fees remain competitive. Either your existing insurer will need to meet the quote of their competitor (they very often do) or you can switch to another insurer.
Chances are, you’re paying a hefty bill for lights and water every month without thinking. We’re all familiar with the ‘guesstimates’ that take place to determine rates at municipalities. We scrutinise our bills at home and bring in someone to conduct a metre reading if the bill seems too high. Why not make this a monthly routine at the office as well? You probably don’t have the time to do it, but outsourcing financial management will mean that someone else will.
Banks are masters at throwing in ad hoc bank charges and incrementally increasing transaction fees. In addition to this, some areas of their fees are based on a sliding scale; for example, ATM withdrawal fees often include a flat rate and a percentage of the amount drawn.
It’s evident from these situationally-based numbers that proper planning of bank charges is difficult. Outsourcing financial management will allow someone to routinely check in with the numbers, look out for ad hoc charges and make sure that you’re using the most cost-effective bank for the kind of banking you do most.
Outsourcing financial management can help you determine, track and manage hidden costs in your company. This can help you have a better idea of your operational expenses and thus help you price your product in such a way that you stay competitive and see healthy returns. To find out more about professional solutions for outsourcing financial management, contact The Finance Team. Our associates can assist you on a full, part time or interim basis.
The decision to start your own business is probably one of the most challenging decisions an individual, or group of individuals can make. Sometimes it comes out of necessity and other times it comes from wanting to live outside the box and be the master of one’s own destiny.
The challenge experienced by most entrepreneurs, is that they start with a very limited budget, sometimes not having sufficient financial resources to draw a salary in the first few months and because of this cash flow constraint, entrepreneurs attempt to be the jack-of-all-trades in the early stages of the company’s growth and take on all the critical areas within the business – from Sales to Marketing to Logistics and Finance.
The reality is that without appropriate financial information and support, you may struggle to get your business to really take off. Having the right business structure and the necessary controls and processes in place to provide you with critical information is core to the growth of any business.
No matter the industry, a solid understanding of cash flow and the business profit model can be the make or break element for a business. As an SME, the practicalities of obtaining this financial information and support is that the limited cash flows prevent the engagement of a full time financial resource that has the necessary skills and experience to address these issues.
All is not lost however as companies do exist within the South African market that have been created for this exact quandary. They engage the services of highly qualified and experienced financial executives who are able to provide professional financial executive services on a flexible basis. This follows the international trend that has exploded over the last decade in both Europe and the USA.
What does this mean to the entrepreneur? The simple answer is EVERYTHING!
These consultancies provide SMEs with affordable access to these executives on a part-time or interim basis. So, if the company is still at a size where the affordability or need for a full time solution is yet to be justified, these consultancies will provide the company with an experienced financial executive at either Financial Manager or Financial Director level that can work anything from one day a week upwards, which makes this a viable option.
The opportunities abound within the SME market as a tailor-made solution can be created. Just make sure the company you choose has the right mix for your business. We base our model on key elements: Trust, Experience, Flexibility, Director-Level Involvement, and a Team Approach.
Many people in senior HR positions agree that one of the most challenging – and simultaneously rewarding – aspects of their job is finding new candidates to fill key positions within the business.
We’re all familiar with the frustrations of sifting through hundreds of CVs that are completely unsuited to the job you advertised for, or pinning your hopes on that candidate who seemed perfect on paper, only to discover that the real-life fit is far from ideal.
You may start off looking for the candidate yourself. You advertise in a few key places and wait while the résumés pour in. After days of fruitless interviewing, you decide to turn to a recruitment agency. However, how sure can you be that the company you appoint is drawing in the best candidates for the position? After all, you are more au fait with the nuances of the job description than they are. And the recruitment agency is driven by what could become conflicting interests: their own deadlines and commission they could earn for placing as many people as possible for as long as possible.
As the commercial hub of the country and the economic capital of the continent, there are several recruitment agencies in Johannesburg at your disposal. You have a choice between large, generalised placement companies and smaller, more niche operations. But all recruitment agencies in Johannesburg face certain constraints.
Recruitment agencies’ biggest struggles
Some of the difficulties faced by recruitment agencies in Johannesburg align with those faced by similar companies around the globe. In its 2013 recruitment trends survey, jobs.ac.uk asked recruiters from all seven continents what their biggest challenge was.
The most frequent response (30% of respondents) said that was that there was a lack of skilled or quality candidates to fill positions. This is an all too familiar refrain for local recruiters, who face a workforce that was largely denied from meaningful skills training for decades.
Following this, 24% of respondents said they faced a reduction in recruitment budgets. They were tasked with finding someone to achieve the same job but with less money to do it. This constraint is especially true in the current environment in South Africa. Companies approaching recruitment agencies in Johannesburg face consumer confidence at its lowest point since 2008, sluggish GDP growth and low manufacturing figures. By necessity, companies like yours need to get more done with less.
The third biggest challenge faced by recruiters was high competition for talent from other employers. With the current local emphasis on black economic empowerment (BEE), this difficulty has become especially true in South Africa when it comes to permanent placements. Recruiters complain that high quality candidates who meet BEE criteria are in constant threat of head-hunting, and subsequently demand ever-increasing salaries that eventually become out of kilter with industry benchmarks.
The survey also posed another telling question: which roles do recruiters have the most difficulty recruiting for? The largest portion of respondents — almost one in four — said that they battled the most to recruit senior management positions.
The survey responses revealed what could be an argument for the use of specialised consulting companies rather than generalised recruitment agencies in Johannesburg, especially when it comes to filling niche and senior roles.
So how could a specialised consulting company assist? A financial consulting company focuses on finding and placing the right financial executives in the right positions for the right amount of time. They operate differently to recruitment agencies in Johannesburg. And interestingly, their unique structure and emphasis means they are positioned to efficiently circumventing some of a recruiters’ biggest difficulties.
First of all, specialised financial consulting companies have no shortage of skilled candidates. If you are looking for a financial professional, be it at CFO, financial manager or project accountant level, they will have someone already screened and suitable to fill your need. They draw from a unique and growing pool of people who are looking for an alternative to full time corporate positions or have become more readily available due to marketplace realities.
For the same reason, you need not worry about competition for your professional from other employers. The professionals in the consulting practice have joined them because of lifestyle reasons and don’t get embroiled in pitching your opportunity against that of any other entity in a bid to get the highest rate.
Thirdly, the consulting company should understand your budget constraints. Instead of pushing a full time placement like most recruitment agencies in Johannesburg would, they will advocate only using the professional for the time you actually need him or her. In essence, they can help you achieve your goals on a smaller budget.
Lastly, financial consulting companies succeed where generalised recruitment agencies in Johannesburg battle the most, in the struggle to fill senior management positions. Their professionals have the appropriate accounting qualifications and years of corporate experience. In other words, the Finance Team associates that come from senior management positions and are ready to step into yours. Contact us here.
Leave your details for an obligation-free conversation regarding your specific needs.
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Check out the interview about the Mind the gap survey as we give insight into what the market is considering when recruiting financial executives.
You can listen to this interview podcast here: http://bit.ly/2shgEjV
JESSICA HUBBARD: Today we’re chatting to Grant Robson and Richard Angus from The Finance Team. The Finance Team is a professional consultancy specialising in the provision of experienced financial executives on a part time, interim or project basis. Last year The Finance Team ran a survey entitled mind the gap, gaps in resourcing your finance department. We’re here with Grant and Richard to talk through the survey and see what we can learn from some of the key insights.
GRANT ROBSON: As you mentioned in your introduction, The Finance Team is a professional consultancy, we’re not really a recruitment company as such. We employ our own professionals who we then utilize in the market to provide an interim part-time financial executive solution. So we were very interested to go to the market and find out the elements that we believe are very important in terms of how companies go about making these selections.
There were only five basic questions, to ensure that we were on the right track in terms of our reading of what we think the market finds very important when it comes to placing top notch, experienced financial executives. So that was the rationale behind why we conducted the survey.
JESSICA HUBBARD: Where was this survey run and who were your respondents?
GRANT ROBSON: The survey was run in conjunction with Moneyweb. Moneyweb sent out a link to the survey in the Moneyweb Morning Coffee (recently rebranded as MoneywebNOW) newsletter and then we also conducted the survey at the Finance Indaba in October 2016, which I think drew about 5 000 financial professionals to the event and whoever wanted to come through and do the survey was more than welcome to come through. Readers and listeners of Moneyweb were also invited to come and complete the survey.
JESSICA HUBBARD: So let’s dive into some of the key findings that came out of it, anything particularly surprising or unexpected?
GRANT ROBSON: I think before we even go into the results it’s really important to just note that the majority of the respondents were from SME companies, so smaller companies with turnover of less than R500 million and less than 200 employees, so I think that’s a really important element. You can expect to get different results from larger companies and I think at a later stage we will do another survey targeted at those larger corporates. But for now, it’s mainly smaller companies that answered, there were different categories, which I’ll ask Richard to go through. And because it was open to a large range of individuals, we then limited the results of the survey to those who we believe are the ones who make the call in terms of who gets employed in the company. Richard, if you can just go through that quickly.
RICHARD ANGUS: In terms of those roles, we looked at the chief executive role, the chief financial officer, then also the group financial manager role because they’re often charged with filling holes in a bigger organisation and then also financial managers themselves, because they often have to plug gaps in their team or across associated people and other teams. Then we also had a very small percentage, as Grant indicated earlier, of human resource managers, we only had about 4% of them, just due to the nature of the survey and where it took place.
Interestingly, of the people who responded, 44% were in the chief executive officer role, so we are talking to people who are actually the key decision-makers. So we’re talking about the people who are actually making the calls for their own businesses and for that mid-corporate size – staff below 200 and turnover below R500 million.
JESSICA HUBBARD: What were the five questions that you were asking?
GRANT ROBSON: Let’s go through the five questions and we can do a bit of commentary on each one as we go through them. The first question was:
On average, how long does it take to fill a vacancy in your finance department?
The majority of respondents, close to 70%, suggested that it’s less than 60 days. That wouldn’t be very surprising from a smaller SME company, so if you look at that result and you look at the larger corporates it’s actually more than 60 days. So a very straightforward question and the basic answer to that is the larger the organisation the longer it tends to take to employ good financial people.
JESSICA HUBBARD: Which is intuitive, you would have expected that.
RICHARD ANGUS: If we look at question two:
Do you have an HR department that you delegate the sourcing of candidates to?
That had a surprising response because we actually didn’t expect this, 60% of the respondents said yes, they have an HR department. We actually thought that in the world of 60/40 that probably only 40% would say they have HR departments, 60% actually have the skillset inside their companies. We believe that’s driven fundamentally by two elements, the first is the complexity of the legislative framework in terms of employment law, processes and so on, so compliance is obviously important. Then the reality is that companies are also moving in nature, we’re moving away from manufacturing and heavy industry into more service oriented and technology-oriented environments and that is more people-intensive, so people are now becoming more significant in the world of an entity and a company. The chances are that they are going to spend more time employing people than they are making capital investment decisions in bulk equipment or something like that. So HR is increasing in its stature and importance in the company.
JESSICA HUBBARD: It shows that people are finally placing value on their staff.
RICHARD ANGUS: It’s the age-old story that your people are the most important asset.
GRANT ROBSON: We certainly see it, we effectively employ our own associates at The Finance Team and without good people we just don’t have a business, we don’t have people out there representing the brand correctly and providing a great service. Probably 40% of our time that we spend on a daily basis is going into evaluating who we are going to bring on board to represent our brand and I don’t think there’s any other great company out there that doesn’t think the same way.
JESSICA HUBBARD: Let’s move onto the third question:
When sourcing candidates for vacant finance roles, what is the best source of candidates?
This is a fascinating question.
GRANT ROBSON: It is, the majority of respondents, close to 36%, still go through placement agencies, which is not surprising. In fact, we would have actually expected that to be a higher number, so 36% for us was a bit on the low side.
What we did find quite interesting is we look at internal applicants (19%), direct applications on an unsolicited basis (19%), responses for adverts on traditional media and job sites (17%) and then responses to adverts on social media (9%) – if we had done the same survey five years ago, that might have been 1% and it’s gone up to 9%, 10% now.
So there’s no doubt that companies, HR professionals are plugging into social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and other media that’s out there and that’s really becoming a good source for companies.
What I personally find interesting, and people out there who might be listening and interested in approaching a company that they want to work for, 19% was direct external applications on an unsolicited basis. That’s people who have taken the time to write an email to the HR department or the head of HR or the CEO or the CFO to say: I really like your business, this is who I am and can I have a shot. Twenty percent of placements are being made in that way, which I find quite fascinating.
JESSICA HUBBARD: Yes, I suppose it also shows you are proactive and hungry if you do that.
GRANT ROBSON: It does and I think that’s one of the tick boxes that you want to tick when you take people on board.
JESSICA HUBBARD: How do you see the social media element playing out in the coming years, is this going to be a very prominent element in recruiting going forward?
GRANT ROBSON: Absolutely, I think if you look at the traditional recruitment companies that are out there, a lot of them are taking strain because this element is becoming much more of a player in the market. So this cutting out the middle man, if you want to call it that, through the likes of LinkedIn and other social media is definitely having a huge impact on recruitment companies out there. It can only get bigger and bigger, I think if we look again in another two or three years it will probably be closer to 20%. It does tell an interesting story as to where this industry is going.
JESSICA HUBBARD: Let’s look at question four, which is very revealing for me:
What are your three most important considerations when recruiting financial staff?
RICHARD ANGUS: I think it goes without saying that those elements of candidate experience, qualifications and the ability to evaluate somebody’s track record are critical elements and those came out on the forefront of that.
Interestingly, we had planted one category into this survey that we were very interested to understand, given the context of South Africa, and that was the question of a candidate’s employment equity profile and that continues to be topical. There have been recent comments about whether employment equity is actually reaching traction. When you look at the results overall, we actually see that profile only being critical at a 9% level when you look across the survey, which we initially were extremely worried about and we thought that told us a story about where people see that. If you compare that against Canada, experience and qualifications are at 23% and 18% respectively, then the 9% for employment equity [in South Africa] is fairly low. However, we then dissected the data a little bit and we looked at companies over the 200 staff level and at that point two elements emerged immediately – cultural fit with 19% and employment equity status at 15% were the two most important categories and they were selected every single time by the respondents in that category.
JESSICA HUBBARD: Was the cultural fit something that surprised you?
RICHARD ANGUS: Not at all because as the organisation gets bigger, making sure you have cultural fit in a large organisation is a critical part of performance but what it does talk to is the fact that cultural fit drives connection and values within an organisation but employment equity status is critical for larger companies. If you look at the BBBEE codes in terms of when employment equity becomes relevant in an organisation, I think these results now mirror those elements quite nicely. If somebody were to say to me, is employment equity important in the workplace, the answer is absolutely yes. You can see in the survey that companies with more than 200 staff members are actively seeing it as one of the most critical parts of their valuation criteria. The fact that it and cultural fit are so close together, tells you that it’s almost as important for them to say what is your employment equity profile and will you actually fit well in my organisation. I was quite surprised by that it does tell a very positive story and obviously the track record on the ground is what counts but this definitely talks to intent that people do consider this very strongly.
GRANT ROBSON: If I can just add another point there, if you look at these larger companies the employment equity status choice and it was the first choice of all the respondents, so it just shows you, as we’ve just said, as there are question marks around the importance of employment equity, in these larger companies it’s the most important criteria.
JESSICA HUBBARD: It’s key insight for companies looking ahead. Let’s move onto the final question:
Whilst recruiting for financial staff, how do you mind the gap in the interim?
Can we perhaps talk to businesses of all sizes, so SMEs and larger corporates?
GRANT ROBSON: The overwhelming winner on this one was relying on existing staff to cover the critical issues that arise. These last two questions were probably the most important for us because this is really in the area that we play in, we provide part time and interim executives. So we were very keen to see that when this gap arises what are people currently doing, so 50% are just relying on existing staff. Now, how sustainable is that? You’re going to put these people under a huge amount of pressure, what happens to the quality of the information when you do these sorts of things, so there’s a lot to read into that. We then had the response of second a staff member from somewhere else in the organisation at 13%, and then source a contractor from a recruitment or personnel agency was around 16% and only 8% said they would come to a company like us, so we’re going to have to change…
JESSICA HUBBARD: Lots of marketing to do [laughing].
GRANT ROBSON: We’re going to have to change that perception. The other response of leave the work until a new person is appointed I’m happy to say was only at around 4%, so not a lot of people are doing that, thank goodness. Then at 9%, which is quite high, is source a suitable qualified candidate from an audit firm. Again, bearing in mind that these are smaller companies. With larger corporates, you’re not going to find the use of audit firms helping out internally and at executive levels, in fact there was not one answer that would use an audit practice and really because the Companies Act doesn’t allow for that.
RICHARD ANGUS: I think for me, the one thing that’s very clear from this whole survey is the fact that the selection of the people in your business is a critical success factor and you can see here that CEOs are responding but you also worry when you see that 50% of the work is effectively just going to be passed to the existing staff. It sometimes worries one that the whole expectation gap of how people expect work to happen actually exists in organisations, so CEOs and people at that sort of level think the work is going to happen and they don’t really, and there seems to be a little bit of a disconnect with what actually happens on the ground and the gaps that potentially need to be filled.
For me that’s the one element why our business is important is to enable people to get the work done, to focus on the output and make sure that there’s execution and delivery with experienced people who aren’t going to take six months to get up the curve and so on. If you look at those elements, candidate experience was the highest consideration in the elements of what you would consider the most, 23% of people said I want somebody with experience and that means there’s no time for training. When you’re plugging the hole you want experienced competent people who can step in, fill the gap and from what I can see we want to be able to do that at lower levels in the organisation without the boss knowing that we’re just filling the gap and getting it done. So that was an insight for me.
JESSICA HUBBARD: Certainly very important insights for HR professionals and business leaders across the board. That was Grant Robson and Richard Angus from The Finance Team.
RICHARD ANGUS: Thanks for having us and a big thanks to Moneyweb for collaborating with The Finance Team on the survey.
So you’ve decided to take that brave leap into the unknown: you’re starting up your own business. At first that meant a lot of meetings, phone calls and celebratory drinks. Then, the excitement made way for sleepless nights as you began to come to terms with what starting a business actually means. That inevitable “what have I gotten myself into?” feeling can be tamed by educating yourself around the practical steps of getting your business going. First off, get yourself a part- or full time financial manager. This person should not only be someone who brings financial insight and leadership skills to the business, but someone whose vision, working style and personality complements yours. They will become your sounding board, confidante and, at times, your life raft as you set out on these unknown waters.
Doingbusiness.org has conducted detailed research into the steps required to start up a business in various economies. They look at the process from the perspective of the entrepreneur, and their insights include understanding the bureaucratic legal hurdles faced by those who are starting out in South Africa. We draw from some of their insights and combine them with our own.
Register your company
At university you started out each year by registering, and starting a company is no different. You’re required to declare the type of business you intend on running with the government-mandated Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). You have four ways of doing this: online at www.cipc.org.za, by visiting a CIPC self-service terminal in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town, by email or at some bank branches (check with your local bank to see if this is available to you).
Open a bank account
Your financial manager needs to submit proof of your identity and the CIPC company registration documents at a bank of your choosing in order to open an account. Consider going for a cheque account rather than a savings account, as the former usually has lower charges per transaction. Later, your financial manager can look for suitable savings mechanisms that yield higher interest and returns on extra cash and savings.
Register for income tax and withholding taxes at the South African Revenue Service
As a small business, you are liable for the complete host of taxes applicable to any company in South Africa. The next task for you and your financial manager will be to register for them. This will require a trip to a SARS office. Doingbusiness notes the following: “The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) are linked electronically. When the entrepreneur visits a SARS branch to register for income tax, SARS retrieves the information previously provided by the entrepreneur to the CIPC.” Once that linking process has been completed, you will need to register for the following: Pay as you earn tax (PAYE), Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the Skills Development Levy (SDL). Your company will be required to pay these taxes on behalf of each of its employees. As of this year, companies with an annual income of R73 650 or less are not required to pay income tax.
Register for VAT
While you’re at the SARS office, you and your financial manager will need to register for value-added tax (VAT) on a VAT 101 form if you have an annual taxable turnover of R1-million or more. Companies with a turnover of less than that amount are not required to register for VAT.
Register the company with the UIF fund
So you’ve already registered to pay UIF, but your financial manager now needs to ensure that your company is registered and recognized at the UIF office. This is a step that is often overlooked and forgotten. Its relevance comes into play when one of your employees needs to claim from UIF (think maternity leave or the unwelcome possibility of retrenchment). That employee won’t be able to claim from UIF if the company isn’t registered with the UIF fund, which will mean your financial manager will have been making UIF contributions to no benefit.
Register with the Compensation Commissioner
If your employees face any level of occupational risk (and almost all companies do), you’ll need to register employees with the Compensation Fund. Registering with the Compensation Commissioner means that, under certain circumstances of injury or damage, your employees will be compensated by the state. The registration process will require the company to undergo risk assessments, so it’s a good idea for your financial manager to have conducted a preliminary risk analysis before this point.
The bureaucratic requirements around taking your business from an idea to a working organisation can seem overwhelming. But partnering early with a financial manager and taking things step by step will turn this into a manageable process; one that allows your business to be fully compliant with – and protected by – the law. Contact The Finance Team to get in touch with a great full-, part time or interim financial manager who can help guide you throughout this time.