Afsar Ebrahim (Deputy Group Managing Director of BDO)

Afsar Ebrahim (Deputy Group Managing Director of BDO) "We don't have enough Chief Financial Officers"

We do not have enough Chief Financial Officers in Mauritius, deplores Afsar Ebrahim, Deputy Group Managing Director of BDO. These professionals contribute greatly to the success of the largest companies, he insists.

BUSINESSMAG. The profession of chartered accountant has been reinvented in recent years. He now plays an increased role within the company…

We have, in fact, reinvented the profession in recent years. The chartered accountant has become a strategic element within the company. It is above all the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who provides this strategic added value.

In addition to his primary task, which is to keep the account book, today's accountant is training to also become a manager and a communicator. These are the qualities of a future CFO. Value of the day, there are many accountants, but very few CFOs. There is an evolution taking place. More and more, in large groups, we see the emergence of CFOs of caliber. The CFO goes beyond the technician. He sits on the company's Board as Finance Director . The partnership between the CEO and the CFO often brings a lot of success to the company.

To illustrate this partnership, let's take the example of the former Manchester United Ronaldo-Rooney tandem. In this configuration, the CEO is Ronaldo and the CFO will be Rooney who does most of the work.

BUSINESSMAG. Let's talk more about this CFO. How does it contribute to the efficiency of the company?

In the service sector, the CFO has a crucial role in production and management. He also has everything to gain by participating in sales, pricing and marketing.

In the case of an industrial company, it has much more interest in managing cash flow, improving the cost of financing, monitoring that the supply is done efficiently and managing working capital. These are the steps that help the business to become more efficient. It is also the CFO who must closely monitor the cash flow.

“The incidents that have hit the world of finance are the result of the greediness of certain companies who wanted to get rich at all costs and not of accountants”

BUSINESSMAG. With the outbreak of the crisis which brought to light the shortcomings in the internal management system of the large multinationals, the concepts of ethics, good governance and compliance with accounting standards have become essential in the day-to-day operations of the organizations. Can we say that the chartered accountant and the auditor today have a priestly mission?

It's a matter of corporate culture. The incidents that have hit the world of finance are much more the result of greed.

At any price, we wanted to get rich. Some people operated outside the regulatory framework and hoped to get away with it. The fault lay with the traders, not the accountants.

When you have a CEO who is an Investment Banker, it says a lot about the culture of the company. This means that this company is quick to take risks.

BUSINESSMAG. With the development of the financial sector, how do you see the future of the profession of chartered accountant?

In the future, the accountant will have an expanded role in the company. It is a noble profession in full expansion. It is also to be expected that accountants will emerge as entrepreneurs.

There is plenty of room. But we must also understand that the profession is not without risk. You can easily end up with a lawsuit on your back, especially in the case of liquidators.

As in all professions, there are unfortunately a handful of lame ducks. But in Mauritius, it can be said that to a large extent, chartered accountants demonstrate professionalism and adopt best practices.

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