Post-modern Controlling vs Classical Financial Controlling

When it comes to financial controlling, may CEOs and even CFOs mention that it is boring. After all, controlling rotates around themes such as financials reliability and accuracy, predictability of the forecasting, solid safeguards in place, sound accounting, compliance. And immediately after this, the same senior leaders can be heard saying: “well, this way it should also stay”. Nobody’s hiring a controller to be creative and change the accounting standards, right?
Yet, when you browse through the job descriptions (and through the magazine interviews), the set of skills required looks different. Besides a long list of standard attributes (as per below), the differentiating factors ask for a different story. Many employers list (even in their performance reviews) required attributes such as:
– critical view on the business
– Sparring partner for the CEO/business leader (maybe a hats down to characters such as Sherlock Holmes or Atticus Finch)
– change agent, especially for the local ERPs
– strong communication skills. Read more

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    How Will Terrorism Impact Investments in Europe?

    If you have not heard about the March 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, you are probably not watching any news channels at all. But the chances are that you heard about the ISIS attacks in Belgium and the foiled plots to attack nuclear centrals in France or Europe.
    What does this rise in terrorist attacks mean for the investments in Europe?
    Well, first and beforehand, uncertainty and risk raises. Be it about real-estate investments in the European major cities (deemed to be one of the safest premium investments in the developed countries) or shares of the FMCG companies, there are obviously risks associated with purchasing shares of these companies: that is supply chains might be disrupted, key employees might be trapped or even harmed, or other countless factors might kick in. It means that overall the cost of doing business in Europe will increase: higher security costs money and slows down by travelling and communication, travel will be disrupted, insurance premiums will increase slowly but certainly. Read more

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      What is going on?

      Looking at the status of the G20 economies, one might say nothing works. Keynesianism taken extreme has led to negative interest rates, moderate unemployment and no growth. Neo-liberalism generated uncontrolled banks, opinionated leadership and polarization of welfare. Trickle down economics do not work at all, especially if we look at the African or the Latam economics. Even the Chinese market-oriented communism is crumbling here and there. So now what?

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        European Bank’s Shares Shattered or Under-valued?

        The last few days saw the European bank’s shares substantially going down. Deutsche’s Bank shares went down from around 25 EUR/share in December 2015 to 13,68 today (Feb 12th, 2016). Other German banks suffered also losses of 10-20% on their share prices, whilst French and Italian ones did not fare very well too. Most of the hit banks were from the invesmtent banking sector – but the traditional commercial ones have not been spared too. Unicredit, the biggest Italian bank, has seen a similar fate too (down from 6 EUR/share to 3).
        This downfall share price trend is ggetting super-serious for the bank sector itself, badly hurt by multiple factors. Amid most concerns are the (relatively) capitalization rules, which requires the banks to maintain a higher capital-to-loans ratio – and most of these mammoths have failed on the stress tests. Of course, this is a measure of efficiency – and most of the investment banks are trying hard to keep as low a ratio as possible, since this means for them doing business with other’s (mostly central banks) money/funds. A nice business model indeed for the banks, who have become mostly asset managers, rather than loan-making machines. Read more

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          Why the Housing Market in Anglo-Saxon Countries Will Further Boom

          Recently I was reading an interesting article on The Economist about the UK housing market. Whilst I do not agree with 100% of it (after all, the real estate markets have gone through various historical cycles), it is a well-argumented read. It basically says that whilst subventions via free land for the constructors might help, the housing market still has a huge inertia and might continue to grow.
          One interesting extra argument (from my side this time) – the quantitative easing has introduced to the US/UK markets a lot of liquidity, which is not yet absorbed. As the liquidity will hardly find its place in new investments, it might find a safe cushion in the real-estate investments. One more reason why this might continue to be a good long-term investment.

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            It Might Be Time To Consider Taking a Cheap Mini-Holiday

            If you are like many Brits, you have been struggling for the last few years just to get by. Between the bottom falling out of the financial markets and eroding retirees’ hard-earned savings while making the jobs picture frighteningly dim for the rest of us, it hasn’t been a particularly pleasant time. Now that things are looking better, however, it just might be time to think about going on holiday and letting go of some of those worries that have plagued you for such a long time. While things are still not completely back to whatever you considered normal, at least many of you might be in a position to let off a little steam. The key word here is “little”. It might not yet be time to summer in the South of France, but if you are sensible about it, a mini holiday might not be too great a stretch. Read more

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              Why Do Systems (Tend To) Fail on Monday

              You wake up an 06:30, after a full relaxing (but somehow late ending) Sunday. You rush into your car and start commuting. The traffic lights system is annoyingly slow, delaying your usually course to the office. Some traffic lights are broken. No way you could shop for a drink at your favorite coffee shop – the queues are way too long this early on the week start. You get to the office – then you circle around 10 more minutes as usually to find a parking place.
              When you get (finally) in front of your desk, the usual ERP interface starts 10 seconds later. The OS seems also very slow – lots of software updates pop up and urge you to restart your computer, and the office WiFi connection is painfully slow. Everybody’s running around in meetings and even the urgent “to do’s” are postponed. And the list can go on for pages.
              What really happens on Monday mornings with our emails, sales organisations, computers and organizations? Why is everything so slow?
              The answer came to me several weeks ago, when I was reading a piece of news regarding Netflix: it said that during prime time, when the highest-watched new episodes of their TV shows are aired, Netflix accounts for almost 40% of the bandwidth (or internet traffic) in the US. Which causes huge slowdowns in the internet traffic, to such an extent that some mobile operators even sued the company for over-using the internet infrastructure.
              And this of course explains why Monday mornings are causing most of the work or human-used systems to slow down: the traffic is huge, be it the need to buy coffee, the urgency of having some products delivered or the high adrenaline of the organizations trying to get massive tasks done. Systems are usually designed to cope with normal loads (in terms of users, requests or processing other types of resources or information). They are NOT designed to cope with double the traffic during peaks. Read more

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