People in Focus
President, The Slovak Association of Finance and Treasury (Slovenská asociácia podnikových finančníkov - SAF)
The Slovak Association of Finance and Treasury (SAF) was established in 1996 as the first CEE treasury association. The initial driver for establishing the association was the acquisition by the French company Rhône-Poulenc of a Slovak company Chemlon Humenne, and following the French AFTE model we established the SAF. At that time, company treasurers were not specifically identified by that title, so the SAF was established as an association of people who worked in corporate finance.
Since its establishment the SAF has been committed to strengthening professional standards and generally to assisting in improving the status and authority of treasurers in Slovak companies. It has also created the opportunity for exchanging information among professionals, and through its technical committees has influenced the Slovak legislative process using official contacts with the Ministries of Finance, Economy and Justice, Parliament and the tax authority. From the beginning the association focused its interest much more widely than solely on treasury topics. Because of the changing economic environment, we are concerned with all activities which have an impact on corporate finance including financing, accounting, corporate tax, VAT and treasury. As a result of the significant interest from international investors in acquiring Slovak companies, the government has carried out a broad economic reform programme: accounting reform in 2004 and later tax reform, known as a ‘flat tax’ (corporate tax and VAT). Together with the SAF, I personally worked very closely with the Ministry of Finance as a member of the steering committee.
One of the significant results of this co-operation was the Accounting Act which was amended with a ‘Financial statement register’. This means that the entire business entity submits a statement of finances including notes, only once to one body, the FSR (the Slovak financial authority), and all interested parties (including the stock exchange, investors and analysts) are able to ‘pull out’ financial statements from the FSR. Currently the SAF monitors and expresses its opinions on new proposals, legislative changes and trends in the economic environment in Slovakia.
What activities do we offer?
- An annual conference on ‘Corporate finance management’. The governor of the Slovak National Bank, our central bank, testifies to the quality of the conference and is one of the speakers
- Publication of a quarterly journal Finance Manager
- Organising workshops, seminars, brainstorming with the Ministry of Finance
- Co-operating with parliamentary and governmental authorities on the preparation of legislation
- We hold working groups with technical committees on Financial Management, Financial Markets, Taxation, Accounting and Reporting and Education and Training
I was personally involved in establishing the association. After two years I was elected to the SAF board and took part in the tax and duty working group. In 2004 I was elected the SAF President. From the beginning the SAF has operated internationally and joined IGTA in 2000 and EACT in 2005 immediately after the Euro Association was changed to the European Association. I represented the SAF on the EACT board from the start.
I began my professional career as a computer programmer in the Agricultural Institute, working on statistical methods and their implementation for evaluating agricultural cultivation processes. Later I developed production structure models for agricultural companies and was a research team leader in the Institute for Effectiveness of Agricultural Management. As the head of a computer systems department in project organisation I participated in the process of building information systems for the Ministry of Finance.
My treasury and finance experiences come from a private shareholders company AXA, a. s. (100% Slovak company) of which I was one of the founders and CFO. This was established in 1991 as a software company developing core banking software and software for POS terminals with a variety of functions - financial transactions, paying invoices, charging mobile phones, selling electronic money and accepting employees’ pre-paid cards for meal payments, which are replacing paper tickets. All of these functions were processed in our own POS terminal net for several banks. My treasury and finance experiences blossomed as the company grew. When we acquired another company, the two companies were merged. After 24 years I managed the process of selling the company to other investors and two years later I managed the process when AXA was acquired by AXASOFT.