Crunching Numbers With Nicky Mutenda

Interview by Emma Mulwa

Who is Nicky Mutenda, and what drives your passion for your profession?

Nicky is a husband, a father, and a dedicated finance professional. I am passionate about my profession because I find great satisfaction in working with numbers. The analytical nature of my profession allows me to delve into details, identify patterns, and make sense of financial data, which I find intellectually stimulating.

My passion for my profession extends beyond the numbers; it lies in the broader impact I can make by contributing to the financial health and success of the banking sector in Namibia.

How has your background and upbringing influenced your personal and professional development?

Education has always been a core value in my family. Both of my parents are educated and instilled in me a deep appreciation for learning. From an early age, the importance of education was emphasized, not just to secure a good job, but as a tool for personal growth.

My academic achievements reflect the support and value placed on education within my family. To this day my wife continues to encourage me to pursue my interests and to pursue further studies. I strongly believe that my commitment to education has been a key factor in my career journey and has significantly contributed to my career success.

As a qualified Chartered Accountant, was this career path always your dream? Could you take us through the key milestones and challenges in your journey?

I received most of my foundational education in my hometown, Katima Mulilo, attending Ngweze Primary School and completing my junior secondary education at Katima Mulilo Combined School. It was at Katima Mulilo Combined School that my passion for accounting blossomed. In Grade 11 at Academia Secondary School, I was recognized as the top performer in accounting higher level, solidifying my determination to become a Chartered Accountant (CA).

I can honestly say that becoming a CA was my father’s dream for me. I fondly recall his encouragement whenever we passed BDO Chartered Accountants offices in Windhoek. His dream found support through a Bank Windhoek bursary and the Namibia Government postgraduate scholarship, which bridged financial gaps for both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

One of the key milestones in my journey was completing my Chartered Accountancy qualification. It required dedication, hard work, and a commitment to continuous learning. The rigorous training and examinations not only honed my technical skills but also instilled in me a strong ethical foundation, which is a crucial aspect of the profession.

Can you provide an overview of your professional background and how it led you to your current role as CFO?

My professional journey has been characterized by a commitment to financial excellence. I began my career in Absa Bank in Johannesburg, where I completed my three TOPP CA articles, while at Absa I was awarded an Excellence award under the Barclays Global Value Recognition at the age 25.

After I qualified as a CA in 2015, I returned home to Namibia to assume the role of Treasury Finance Manager at First National Bank (FNB), under the leadership of veteran bank treasurer Michelle Van Wyk, while at FNB Namibia my passion for treasury flourished.

This journey led me to DBN in May 2017 as the bank’s first manager of treasury. Establishing a fully-fledged treasury function at DBN is a career achievement I take great pride in. In August 2021, I was promoted to Treasurer, and in December 2023, I seized the opportunity to become CFO at DBN.

On your social media handles, you’ve referred to yourself as the future CEO of Deutsche Bank. What inspired this goal, and how do you plan on achieving it?

The aspiration to become the future CEO of Deutsche Bank is rooted in my passion for the banking industry. Throughout my career, I have admired the global impact of Deutsche Bank. In my daily work life I boldly pursue my career dream of becoming the CEO of Deutsche Bank AG, a determination I am steadfast in pursuing through continuous learning and professional development.

Having served in numerous leadership roles, could you elaborate on the various hats you wear in your professional life?

Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of serving in various leadership roles, each presenting unique challenges and opportunities. In addition to my duties as CFO of the Development Bank of Namibia, I actively contribute to the Namibian corporate landscape. I serve as an independent Non-Executive Director on two companies – PowerCom and Spitz Capital and also a an independent trustee for the UNAM Foundation. In addition, I serve as an External member on two board committees of the MVA Fund and Namibia Institute of Corporate Governance.

How do you apply your qualifications on a daily basis in your professional role as a Chartered Accountant?

On a daily basis, my qualification as a Chartered Accountant is instrumental in navigating the complex financial landscape and contributing to the success of the bank. One of the keyways I apply my qualifications is through financial analysis on the bank’s credit decisions. Furthermore, my expertise in risk management plays a crucial role in decision-making as CFO. I evaluate potential risks associated with various financial strategies and propose mitigation plans to ensure the financial stability and resilience of the bank. As a Chartered Accountant, ethical considerations are always at the forefront of my decision-making.

Is Chartered Accountancy something you would recommend for anyone considering a career in the financial sector?

Absolutely, I highly recommend Chartered Accountancy for individuals considering a career in the financial services sector. The qualification has been a cornerstone of my professional journey, providing a robust foundation and a diverse skill set that is widely applicable in the financial services industry.

Chartered Accountancy offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers financial reporting, auditing, taxation, and financial management. This breadth of knowledge equips individuals with a holistic understanding of financial principles, which is invaluable in navigating the complexities of the financial services sector.

One of the key advantages of pursuing Chartered Accountancy is the emphasis on ethical considerations. The qualification instills a strong sense of professional ethics and integrity, which are paramount in the financial services industry. This ethical framework not only guides decision-making but also contributes to building trust with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders.

Additionally, the global recognition of the Chartered Accountancy qualification opens doors to diverse career opportunities. Whether in public practice, corporate finance, or consultancy, Chartered Accountants are sought after for their analytical skills, strategic thinking, and ability to drive financial success.

With regard to gender and representation, do you think women are well-represented in the field of Chartered Accountancy?

In 1990, only 3% of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Namibia’s membership comprised females. Today, the female representation has surpassed 40%.

As a CFO, what are the key responsibilities and functions that define your role within the organization?

My role as CFO is pivotal in shaping the financial health, stability, and strategic direction of the bank. It involves a blend of financial acumen, regulatory expertise, and leadership skills to navigate the complexities of the banking industry and contribute to the overall success of the bank.

Could you walk us through your decision-making process when it comes to financial strategy and planning?

Firstly, we aim to ensure that financial strategies are aligned with organizational goals, responsive to external factors, and positioned for sustained success in a dynamic economic environment where the bank operates.

Conduct a thorough analysis of the economic environment and industry trends. This includes assessing macroeconomic factors, market dynamics, and industry benchmarks. Understanding the external landscape provides context for shaping internal financial strategies.

Identify and assess potential financial risks that may impact the bank. This involves evaluating market risks, operational risks, regulatory risks, and other factors that could influence financial performance. The goal is to develop strategies to mitigate these risks effectively.

Collaborate with relevant departments to develop detailed budgets and forecasts. This process involves projecting revenues, expenses, and cash flows. It is essential to ensure that financial plans are realistic, align with strategic goals, and accommodate potential fluctuations in the business environment.

Determine the optimal allocation of financial resources. This involves evaluating investment opportunities, prioritizing projects that align with strategic goals, and optimizing the capital structure to enhance financial efficiency.

How do you approach providing financial leadership within an organization, especially during times of change or uncertainty?

My approach to financial leadership involves a combination of strategic planning, clear communication, risk management, and a focus on the long-term sustainability of the bank. By navigating change with foresight and adaptability, I aim to lead the organization through periods of uncertainty with resilience and success.

Given the dynamic nature of the business environment, how do you approach risk management, and what strategies do you employ to mitigate financial risks?

In the dynamic business environment, effective risk management is a cornerstone of financial stewardship. As a CFO, my approach to risk management involves a combination of strategic foresight, continuous monitoring, and the implementation of robust mitigation strategies.

By adopting a proactive and adaptive risk management approach, I aim to ensure that the organization is resilient in the face of uncertainties, and that financial risks are identified and mitigated in a timely and effective manner.

How does your role as CFO integrate environmental, social, and governance considerations into financial decision-making and reporting?

My role as CFO involves integrating ESG considerations into financial decision-making by aligning financial strategies with sustainability goals, assessing impacts, managing risks, enhancing transparency, engaging stakeholders, and fostering a culture of responsible finance within the bank.

What key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics do you consider most crucial in assessing and communicating the financial health of the organization?

As a CFO, assessing and communicating the financial health of the bank KPIs and metrics like Net Interest Margin, Non-performing loans ratio, Debt to Equity Ratio, Impairment ratio and Return on Equity. The investor base of the bank is usually very keen to see and analyze these ratios. The Shareholder is also interested in such information.

For those aspiring to reach a CFO position, what advice would you give regarding skills development, experience, and career progression in the finance field? The journey to becoming a CFO is a combination of technical expertise, leadership development, strategic thinking, and continuous learning.

Related Posts