The Vietnam CFO Club and ACCA Vietnam collaboratively hosted the country's biggest annual CFO summit in Ho Chi Minh City on November 18 to connect professionals and address the rapid transformation and talent challenges of finance departments.
Specifically, more than 400 consultants and top-tier experts from prominent firms including Microsoft, PNJ, Deloitte, EY, RSM, Vinamilk, Sovico, Khanh Vy Homes, and DHG Pharma attended the event.
Phan Vu Hoang, former chairman of the ACCA Vietnam Members Committee and Tax partner of Deloitte Vietnam, highlighted that some of the most important soft skills for modern financial professionals include flexibility, adaptability, critical thinking, and business partnering, while the future technical skill set is expected to include budgeting, forecasting, and sustainable reporting featuring ESG criteria.
Moreover, data analytics and visualisation, cloud-based accounting solutions, data science, machine learning, AI, robotic process automation, and blockchain technology are also considered helpful skills to help finance professionals advance their careers.
Meanwhile, Saman Bandara, leader of Forensics and Forensic Technology Practice at EY Vietnam, noted that CFOs should evolve and become inspirational agents for change to drive organisational transformation.
“According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, organisations could lose 5 per cent of their revenue annually due to fraud risks. There is a wide range of consequential costs that are very difficult to measure. Reputational impacts can lead to the loss of customers and impede the long-term strategy of organisations,” he added.
A recent EY survey shows that 76 per cent of respondents revealed that while the role today is extremely challenging, there has never been a more exciting time to be a CFO.
“Meanwhile, 86 per cent said that they must balance the need to protect enterprise value today while also enabling future growth. In addition, 81 per cent said that an increasingly volatile risk environment has had a major impact on the CFO role,” continued Bandara.
On the flip side, despite the increasing importance of ESG, many CFOs have yet to recognise the importance and the impact of becoming more sustainable and implementing ESG criteria into their daily operations.
Tran Thi Thuy Ngoc, partner and leader of Sustainability and Climate at Deloitte Vietnam, pointed out some challenges to the preparation and presentation of ESG reports in Vietnam.
“First and foremost, Vietnam has no integrated reporting standard for ESG implementation. When there is no integrated and clear standard to centralise all reporting requirements, companies may react by providing little information so as to not affect their reputation. Secondly, limited information for the purpose of benchmarking and verification could make it difficult for investors to evaluate the operational efficiency, thus miss out on important information,” she said.
Finance professionals also discussed the volatility of the corporate bond market, including bond default risks, bond maturity, and practical solutions to counter potential problems.
“Companies often find it challenging to determine metrics to monitor, leading to over-monitoring without a way to explore and extract insights. They also struggle to navigate a different set of standards with different criteria for data and metrics," Ngoc said.
Preparing a comprehensive ESG report that is consistent with the requirements and principles of ESG standards requires companies to have a team of professionals with knowledge and experience in the market, which is still a constraint in Vietnam.
Le Khanh Lam, partner of RSM Vietnam, pointed out some significant risks in the modern tax landscape, including global tax changes, transfer pricing, pandemic-related tax risks, digitalisation of tax administrations, taxpayers’ data and document storage, organisation, and supply.
He also noted some recent tax modifications in Vietnam which CFOs should be warned about such as e-commerce trading floors' obligation to provide merchant information and the exemption of personal income tax returns.
According to Toan Kieu, director of SMC Segment (Microsoft), the implementation of cutting-edge technology would enable CFOs to efficiently enhance a more transparent strategic business plan. Hence, CFOs could provide the business development department with thorough and helpful insights by analysing customers’ data.
Nguyen Thanh Liem, head of Finance at PNJ, has an exclusive financial accounting system which could aid the firm’s long-term development over a period of 5-10 years.
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