Where are CFOs Investing & Saving in 2022?

In the third and final interview in this series exploring where CFOs are investing and saving in 2022, Nicole Madigan speaks with Jay Botha. Jay is CFO at Friends with Dignity, a volunteer based not-for-profit registered charity that provides practical programs to assist survivors of domestic violence in collaboration with refuge and crisis centres.

Jay Botha, CFO | Friends with Dignity

For domestic violence charity, Friends with Dignity, the impact of COVID-19 has been multifaceted.

An increase in domestic violence offences has seen the need for its service increase, while societal impacts have meant the charity’s funding model has had to change.

“It appears that private donors are dealing with the toll of Covid – not seeing family, nor being able to travel – in their own way,” says Mr Botha.  

“As such, we have noticed a decrease in this type of donation.  Fortunately there have been a number of corporates whom have stepped up, and filled this void. 

“We will focus on building these relationships, as I think the world at large is moving towards a more sustainable, community friendly model, with a strong desire to be seen as ‘doing the right thing’.

There is definitely a move towards doing everything possible online, and for that reason I would be spending a larger than usual portion on marketing and customer engagement

“More and more I see ethical investment funds performing well. There are also many successful companies, some listed, whom have mandated donating a percentage of their profits, to NFPs every year. 

“We are very thankful for this shift, as we are only able to continue doing the work that we do through our supporters.”

Along with an increasing push towards sustainability and renewability, Mr Botha believes inflated costs will become an issue for CFOs moving into 2022, with clear supply chain complexitites and skyrocketing input costs.

“Currently, many companies are absorbing these costs through reduced margins, however at some stage it will have to be passed onto the consumer,” says Mr Botha.  

“Interest rates will very likely go up, so as CFO you need to be wary the tide may be going out, and ensure sufficient reserves should sales move sideways or even down.”

While 2022 will see Australia return to a semi-normal state, the impact of the pandemic has forever changed the way consumers and businesses operate.

“There is definitely a move towards doing everything possible online, and for that reason I would be spending a larger than usual portion on marketing and customer engagement,” says Mr Botha.

“All whilst trying to stay in line with market trends, which I find are happening faster and more frequently.”

Mr Botha says working from home is also here to stay, so while travel will increase, it will likely be less frequent when compared to pre-pandemic times.

“There has been acceptance of programs like Zoom, Webex or MS Teams making it easier to communicate remotely. 

“We will have to learn to manage this constant 24/7 online environment as I can see fatigue setting in across many industries.”

As for spending in 2022, Mr Botha says one of his key focuses will be improving Friends with Digity’s digital presence.

“The competition for online presence is fierce, with search engine optimisation, websites and social media trends changing frequently and relentlessly.”

Jay Botha, CFO | Friends with Dignity

When it comes to saving, Mr Botha says, thanks to the work from home concept continuing to gain traction, costs related to the office, as well as staff, are decreasing, and will continue to do so in 2022.

“Many of the bigger savings will involve revisiting existing contracts, rather than focusing on only new purchases. 

“A category I would potentially focus on is rent, as the demand for office space has significantly decreased.”

But with borders opening and restrictions easing, is now the time for innovatation, or should CFOS take a cautious approach?

Mr Botha says his 2022 approach will be a combination of the two.

“It will be interesting to see how the new Omicron scenario pans out,” he says.

“I suspect if it blows over quicker than anticipated, there will likely be a positive impact and overall sentiment will pick up, as consumers realise we have made much progress since early 2020. 

“I think if there is but a glimpse of normality returning, there will be many opportunities which will likely be followed by a period of growth. 

“We know this will happen and one wouldn’t want to be caught sleeping, as you could likely miss opportunities. 

“For that reason I would say now is a good time to push forward, however with caution.”