KUALA LUMPUR: Chief financial officers (CFOs), being the main line of defence in every corporate organisation, must never be afraid to raise any issues of wrongdoings in their companies.
Bursa Malaysia chairman Datuk Shireen Ann Zaharah Muhiudeen said it was critical to build up the capacity and competency of CFOs and the finance function to support the wider governance ecosystem and the nation’s credibility and investor confidence.
She stressed that it was particularly important for public-listed companies, where CFOs must be tough, are able to say no and escalate any red flags they see.
“It cannot be a situation where CFOs are so frightened to say anything or even the auditors are so scared. If we can’t stand up, whether it’s to your board or your CEO, then we have a problem. We must become a group to empower each other to stand up to become stronger.
“Then, we get to a platform where people know that CFOs are not going to tolerate nonsense and questionable contracts They’re going to say it doesn’t look right and they will get legal counsel. These are all important attributes of a CFO,” she said.
Shireen was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) CFO Conference 2019.
She added that governance was the base line of transparency and with that, people would feel confident and reinvest, be it in for the long term, foreign direct investment (FDI) or through equity markets.
She said that Malaysia, being a country of people with great skills, resources and good institutions, does not deserve to be looked upon at how it has been of late with bad press.
“We have been so badly tarnished internationally and all of us, in all your capacity when you speak abroad, the people and investors you meet, it’s really important to come across that we are not the same as what has happened of certain individuals.
“We used to hide and not even say we’re Malaysians in foreign conferences because we felt embarrassed because we’re not like that. So now when we go out, be those people who talk about governance and really understand it so that we can build that credibility back,” she said.
On eradicating corruption, Shireen said it is a hard and collective effort by instilling ethics and professionalism among respective stakeholders.
“I cannot emphasise this enough. As long as you all say no, as long as you all see red flag issues you’re not comfortable with, we’ll be in a better starting point,” she said.
Meanwhile, MIA also launched the Competency Framework for Finance Function in Public Interest Entities, dubbed as a game-changer for CFOs’ professional development and education in Malaysia.
MIA president Salihin Abang said while CFOs must be leaders, business partners and stewards responsible for financial management, regulatory compliance and digital transformation, it was equally important for them to demonstrate strong ethics to build public and stakeholder trust.