Armand Angeli is recognised as an expert and influencer in his field, with a special interest in digital finance transformation. He highlights some of the key topics to be discussed at the International CFO Alliance Summit in Capri.
My guest today is Armand Angeli, he is a trained engineer and has an MBA from INSEAD, he’s based in France, and he wears many hats. Amongst other things, Armand leads the RPA/Intelligent Automation /Shared Services and Outsourcing Committee of DFCG, the French CFO network with more than 3 000 finance executives. He is also the Vice-President of the International Group of DFCG. Armand leads the Finance Digital Transformation working group of the International CFO Alliance. He is also the Founder of CFO Automation Experience, an international community of CFO’s and other business professionals.
He has also held senior positions at Hewlett Packard, Grant Thornton, IBM, General Electric and PwC. Most importantly for this podcast, he’s one of the organisers of the International CFO Alliance Summit, which takes place in Capri, Italy on October 6 this year.
Armand, I’ve only mentioned a few positions that you hold on your CV, it seems as if time management should be one of your core competencies, where do you get the time to do all these things?
I do find time because CFOs, finance people, they need to talk to their peers before making any big decisions on finance transformation and there is so much being said and being talked about that we can get confused. So the best is really to talk to your peers and that’s why I’m organising this networking between CFO peers so that we can make the right decisions at the right time.
It’s a pleasure to do it and, of course, it takes some time but talking to CFOs allows me to learn, so it’s a win-win situation.
You’ve been in the industry for a long time, and you are a world expert on many topics and industries, and you’ve been a public speaker on many platforms. You’ve also been an entrepreneur and you’ve been at the head of several international businesses. Is there a big difference between running businesses and being an entrepreneur and representing CFOs and business professionals?
It’s actually complementary, I have companies, I have been a CFO, I have been an auditor but then I am using all this experience in my networking roles. To do the two things you need to be a networker, you need to want to talk to people, so to me it’s the same thing. I actually don’t have that many hats, I have only one I am interested in, I like to talk about digital transformation, and it comes through technology, it comes through people, it comes through processes. So everything I have done in the past few decades is linked to finance transformation. There is logic to what I have done and to what I am now trying to share with my network.
Let’s talk about the CFO Alliance Summit, which takes place on the beautiful Italian island of Capri on October 6, it’s an exciting destination, why did you choose Capri to be the host of this conference?
This was actually chosen by the Italian Association, so maybe just as a reminder, the CFO Alliance is a federation of at least 12 financial institutes from Europe, South Africa and Latin America. We got together in December, we want to work on common topics and those are digital finance transformation, it’s ESG and it’s taxation. By work we mean forming committees and different working groups on these three topics and we are going to share the work of these three committees in Capri. Why Capri, it’s because the Italian Association is having its local congress on October 7and 8, so we decided to add an international part to that congress and why Capri, because we want to attract as many CFOs as possible and not only work, but also do networking, peer-to-peer sharing in a nice setting, and Capri is the right place.
Who is this conference aimed at, only CFOs or are there other people who should attend this conference?
It’s CFOs, it’s the extended finance executive community, it can be controllers, it can be auditors, shared services, leaders, all of the finance functions, accounting directors, decision makers from all the finance functions.
Let’s talk about the core theme, digital transformation, that is a theme that affects every single business and industry in the world and there are a lot of schools of thought regarding digital transformation, what would the core focus be of that session?
That session will be the longest one of the three topics because most, if not all, companies or finance organisations want to transform the function of their own company and digital is a great tool. There are a lot of myths around transformation, so what we want to do is share what we mean by automation, why automation, what is the goal of automation and is automation the only way to transform the finance functions. So we want to discuss what are the levers to achieve finance transformation, it can be technology, it can be working on the actual processes of the functions, it can be to work on the organisation, whether it’s outsourced or shared services.
We want to talk about talents, one of the big issues before any transformation is to embark the people. Finance and digital transformation is not only about technology, it’s about all the above, technology, people, organisation processes and there are lots of myths around automation, so we want to share some real-life experience, good and bad, and share some less learned, but also best practices for finance transformation.
The second session will look at ESG, the Environmental, Social and Governance responsibilities of companies and, of course, for the senior executives of companies to implement ESG strategies. That has been almost a controversial topic around the world, what will be the core themes that you will discuss in the ESG session?
Most companies in Western Europe have to report on ESG strategies from next year.
So CFOs will have to report on financial results but also on ESG and how will they adapt their organisation to environmental regulations, social regulations and governance. So there’s no choice but to work on it and have a common understanding of what is ESG because it can be new for some of the CFOs. We are going to talk about what do we mean by ESG and what are the recommendations to do a good job in reporting on ESG.
Another soft topic is tax, which is actually a very hard topic, a very relevant topic in the world today, what will the focus be of that session?
The usual thing, transfer pricing, minimal tax rates, how can you improve tax with automation, these are typically the subjects of sessions on taxation. Starting with transfer pricing and trying to understand what is the difference between tax optimisation and tax evasion.