May 19, 2020

America's Best CFOs

Coca Cola
Bizclik Editor
4 min
America's Best CFOs

Before we get you into America's Best CFOs, you might want to check this article out as it appears in our March Issue of Business Review USA. For the tablet and iPad fans, it's way cooler to read this article while flipping through our user-friendly e-reader.

CFOs have been on the edge of their seats these last few years trying to improve efficiencies and reduce costs while America gets out of this economic downturn. It looks as if this recession is almost at an end and companies are slowing straying from their cost control programs while looking to expand and grow in 2011.

Finance chiefs and top economists say that the U.S. economy will grow no more than 2.5 percent annually for the next two to three years. There is tremendous opportunity to build the world’s economy and America’s top CFOs are working hard to bring optimism to the board room. While consumers have brought on billions of debt upon themselves – and not to mention all of those homes that are under foreclosure – the nation’s economy is aimed for growth.

Here are our picks for America’s Top CFOs.

Peter Oppenheimer is Apple’s Senior VP and CFO and oversees the typical duties like managing the company’s controller, treasure, investor relations, and other financial systems and responsibilities. Oppenheimer started with the company as a controller for the Americas in 1996 before being promoted to Vice President and Worldwide sales controller and corporate controller in 1997. Before working at Apple, he was CFO of one of the four strategic business units from Automatic Data Processing.

In January, there was much talk about Apple looking for a new CFO. Media outlets have been going back and forth whether or not Apple will be bring on Laurence Tosi, current CFO of Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private-equity firm. Tosi also served as CFO of the trading and investment-banking division of Merrill Lynch before its acquisition by Bank of America Corp.

Patrick Pichette is Google’s Senior VP and CFO and has almost 20 years of experience in financial operations and management in the telecommunications industry, including partner at McKinsey & Company and a seven-year reign at Bell Canada.

When Pitchette was hired by Google in 2008, there was speculation as to why the search engine company would hire a Canuck with a background in telecom. Little did everyone know that Google was working on its own mobile phone platform, Android. See, Google does know what it’s doing!

Gary Fayard is the Executive VP and CFO of The Coca-Cola Company and has been with the company since 1994 when he worked as Vice President and Controller. Before joining the company, he spent 19 years at Ernst & Young as Partner and Area Director.

We had a chance to also speak with Jack Bergstrand, who was the former CFO of Coca-Cola Beverages and now is the CEO of Brand Velocity. Bergstrand was also CIO of The Coca-Cola Company and helped to work with the management team when the company’s stock increased from $3 to $22.

“The first thing we did was develop a clear strategy – focused first and foremost on our consumer and customer base,” he says. “Then, we implemented a massive restructuring, to eliminate all costs not associated with that strategy. As part of this we reduced our manufacturing plants by 50 percent and invested heavily in those that remained. In addition, we reduced our data centers from 68 to 1 and our administrative centers from 68 to 3. We worked very well as a team, we never took our eye off the strategy (even though, just like with all companies, there were many distractions). As a result the company achieved excellent and sustainable results – happy customers, steady gross profit growth, reduced expenses as a percent of revenue, increased return on assets, and increased cash flow.”

Mark Loughridge became the Senior VP and CFO of IBM in July 2010 and was previously the Senior VP and GM of IBM Global Financing where he led the world’s largest IT financing and asset management organization. He’s been with the company since 1997 and has taken on several hats within the business, such as VP of several departments and Controller.


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Jun 8, 2021

Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda

Kate Birch
4 min
As businesses accelerate their transformation journeys, tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value. Deloitte reveals six tax trends

New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.

According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.

And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.

Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.

Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax

Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.

According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”

Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models

Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.

Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected

in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.

"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."

Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities

Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.

At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”

Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting

Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.

Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact 

Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements

Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.

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