Shayne and I also discussed the importance of focusing on more than the traditional “cold, hard numbers” of finance but instead developing a broader understanding of the organisation’s performance with environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures.
“Understanding… more than just the numbers and how that really manifests… our impact on the community - that's really a big area for contemporary CFOs today and in the future,” he explains.
He also says a strong handle on the competitive environment is incredibly important for any CFO: “Our industry is facing massive disruption and there are opportunities that comes with that. [The CFO] needs to be an enabler of that and somebody who's leaning in and helping the company allocate resources, ensuring we're investing in the right places and… being a positive influence on change and transformation.”
For me, having empathy and understanding of the business and driving operational efficiency is really important. It’s about partnering with internal stakeholders to deliver outcomes as well as reporting to the market and our shareholders.
Shayne says one of his biggest lessons from his time as CFO and now CEO is the importance of bringing our people, customers and shareholder along the bank’s transformation with a clear narrative.
“It goes to the heart of what you stand for as an organisation,” he says. “Why, as a shareholder, am I giving my capital to ANZ? What do I get beyond just a dividend?”
“I think that narrative is critically important. The challenge for a CFO and a CEO is crafting that narrative, particularly in a large, complex, somewhat diversified business like ours.”
I completely agree with Shayne when he says the role of the CFO is to hold the business to account and find proof points that go beyond the quarter-on-quarter figures. That will be a prime focus for me.
These are long-term ambitions. But we do need to continue to improve our communication with shareholders around the alignment we are building with that central narrative.
The concept of long-term value is something I am particularly focused on as CFO and is something, I believe, that takes a little bit more courage than just delivering short-term.
This focus on long-term value has been at the heart of the bank’s strategy over the past five years. I’ve seen it and Shayne points out the value that has for our value.
“We’ve been building credibility as a management team, strengthen our operations, outperforming our balance sheet,” he says. “So we share a little bit back to shareholders in terms of dividends, conducting share buybacks and capital management to strengthen the bank, build resilience and to invest ahead of the curve.”
You can listen to our whole conversation by clicking on the podcast above.
Farhan Faruqui is CFO of ANZ
This article was adapted from a session at The ANZ Finance & Treasury Forum which returned for its fourth year in 2021, held virtually across two days in October.
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