“CFO of the Year” Bengzon pays tribute to back office heroes
As Augusto Bengzon rose to accept the “ING-FINEX CFO (chief financial officer) of the Year” award, the CFO of property giant Ayala Land Inc. raised the banner for all finance personnel, whom he described as the “most under-appreciated and overworked” employees in corporate Philippines.
During his acceptance speech at the awarding ceremony held at the New World Hotel on Wednesday, Bengzon said finance people were typically the first to arrive in the office, and the last ones to leave, performing the least glamorous undertakings relative to their frontline counterparts in the sales and marketing, or operations groups.
“They commonly toil in what is commonly called the back office, giving one the impression that they are doing chores that are best kept out from public view,” Bengzon said.
“I know that this is farthest from the truth. I may be biased, but I believe that it is the finance group that provides the backbone on which the company rests; it provides the foundation which determines whether the company will flourish for generations, or fold up at the first sign of economic stress,” he said.
In the case of ALI, he said the controllership and accounting groups were expected to ensure that the financial reports would provide an accurate picture of the company’s financial condition and thus provide management with information that allows for strategic and timely decision-making.
“Finance has driven the implementation of an enterprise-wide risk management program, with a bottoms-up, top-down identification of key risks, both existing and emerging, that allows us to assess key risks specific to strategic business units as well to critical support groups, and enables the proper cross functional evaluation necessary for better organizational collaboration and treatment,” he said.
Bengzon alluded to Tab Baldwin – coach of the Ateneo Blue Eagles men’s basketball team which is now aiming for a three-peat UAAP championship- who had said that Ateneo’s success so far was not because of robotic guys who would do what they were told. “It’s driven by determination, passion, belief in one another and that’s what equates to heart,” the coach had said.
“Without a doubt our finance professionals are hard-working and technically competent,” Bengzon said. “But what sets our team apart from the others, the secret sauce to our success if you might call it, are the shared values that build trust, enable us to move quickly, and generate successful outcomes over the long term. These shared values will see the company through the best of times, and the worst of times, for generations to come.”
In the last decade, Ayala Land has grown its bottomline and share price at a compounded annual rate of 20 percent, more than three times the country’s average gross domestic product growth rate, and exceeding the 15 percent compounded annual growth rate of the main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index.
“Clearly, for a company of this size, achieving outstanding financial results, cannot be attributed to just one person. It is the result of a collective effort of a highly committed team,” he said.