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KPMG Launches Inaugural CFO Survey

“Accounting is no longer only about counting of beans, but also enabling growing the beans”

March 24, 2016 By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

KPMG in Sierra Leone has launched its inaugural Chief Financial Officer (CFO) survey, which is aimed at engaging CFOs from various sectors in the Sierra Leonean economy, on the ‘stay awake’ issues affecting their performance.

The survey was launched at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Aberdeen, Freetown, on Saturday March 19 2016. The survey would be in the form of a questionnaire which will be distributed to CFOs in various organizations soliciting their responses to questions with regards to their roles as effective business enablers.

During the launch, Mr. Vidal T. O. Decker, Managing Partner at KPMG in Sierra Leone, elaborated on the objectives of the survey and the CFO forum to be established, which include serving as a platform for advocacy where with one voice CFOs could come together and channel whatever issues they have to the relevant regulators. In addition, he said, it will be a platform to discuss issues, problems and opportunities and network together.

Guest speaker at the launching, Dr. Ibrahim Stevens –Deputy Governor, Bank of Sierra Leone said Serra Leone’s economic outlook in the medium term (2016-2018) is a bit uncertain, but noted that the second declaration of the end of Ebola in the country should bring some kind of confidence and reassurance that things will improve.

“Moving forward, we need to manage the fiscal aspects of our economy very well,” said Dr. Stevens, adding that the private sector needs to move away from just depending on securing government contracts to more private-led investments.

Furthermore, Dr. Stevens said the country’s economy is gradually recovering from the recent recession caused by the Ebola outbreak and the sharp decline in international commodity market prices, especially of iron ore, and stressed that the economy has to be diversified.

“Our reliance should not just be on mining,” he said. “We need large scale investment in agriculture and an increase in the value chain; we need investment in fisheries, tourism, transport and manufacturing sectors and we are likely to come out of the recent crisis well.”

Sierra Leone’s economy contracted by about 23% in 2015 and Dr. Stevens said that elsewhere that could have been a disaster.

“We were able to escape that because of the large scale informal sector we have, coupled with the resilience of our people who just want to move on with their lives,” said Dr. Stevens. “SMEs are the lynchpin for economic growth. A substantial part of the larger economies in the world are moved by SMEs.”

Mr. Vidal T. O. Decker sensitized the audience on the need for the effective operations of the Capital Market in Sierra Leone, citing the status of the present stock exchange in Sierra Leone which is not very operational. He reminded the audience that stock exchange is normally overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but that in the absence of this in Sierra Leone, the Bank of Sierra Leone is presently acting as the SEC to regulate the stock exchange in country. The SEC Bill is with the law officers department waiting for it to be taken to Parliament and passed into law, so that there will be the SEC Act to regulate the stock exchange. This SEC bill paves the way for the setting up of the SEC but until such time when the bill will be turned into law through the SEC Act, the Bank of Sierra Leone is regulating the Sierra Leone stock exchange.

Giving an overview of the changing names and roles of the CFO yesterday, today and tomorrow within the context of the changing business landscape, Mr. Derrick Kawaley Partner KPMG in Sierra Leone said the CFO is very important to the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization.

“From Accountant to Chief Accountant, Finance Manager, General Manager –Finance/Vice President-Finance, Financial Controller, Finance Director / Chief Financial Officer; each time the name of the CFO changes the role changes. The role of the CFO has changed from just a book-keeper with emphasis on recording transactional information to a business enabler, a key player, a team member that helps to define the mission and vision of the company,” Mr. Kawaley explained.

The forces of change in the changing business landscape, he continued, has led to the emergence of a multidimensional new generation CFO with qualities such as strategic orientation and business acumen, who is constantly on the lookout for new ideas and concepts, techniques and methodologies.

“You need to be a CFO that sees the entire picture; you need to see everything from all points of view,” Mr. Kawaley emphasized, adding that future CFOs should be able to understand how to develop relationships with a wide range of stakeholders and strong networks would be essential”.

A report on the outcome of the CFO survey will be a basis for setting the agenda for the CFO discussion forum(s) to be organized at a later date.

KPMG in Sierra Leone is the largest firm of Chartered Accountants and business advisors. The firm is located in Freetown, serving clients in the mining, telecommunications, financial services, manufacturing and other related services and also public- sector organisations/entities. KPMG offers Audit, Tax and Advisory Services to clients.

Credit: Development and Economic Journalists Association- Sierra Leone (DEJA-SL).