May 19, 2020

The CFOs of Canada's Big Five

Royal Bank of Canada
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Bizclik Editor
4 min
The CFOs of Canada's Big Five




Check this article out as it appears in our April Issue of Business Review Canada. Trust us, it's way cooler to read this article when you can flip through our user-friendly e-reader.

The banking industry encompasses some of Canada’s best financial minds. To keep the Big Five banks on track, these companies employ the elite of the financial world. This month, Business Review Canada gets to know the background and expertise of CFOs from Canada’s Big Five.

Royal Bank of Canada: Janice Fukakusa

Janice Fukakusa, CFO of the Royal Bank of Canada since 2004, is one of the nine executives responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of RBC. Fukakusa started her career by earning a Master of Business Administration degree from Schulich School. Following her studies, she earned professional designations of chartered accountant and chartered business valuator at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Joining the RBC in 1985, Fukakusa held positions in retail and business banking, corporate banking, account management, corporate finance, treasury, strategic development and corporate functions leading to an esteemed role of Executive Vice President of Finance. Fukakusa also currently holds the Chief Administrative Officer position at RBC. One of the leading ladies of the financial industry, Fukakusa believes in helping fellow female co-workers gain the skills needed to become strong candidates for executive positions.

Bank of Nova Scotia: Luc A. Vanneste

Luc A. Vanneste, the CFO and Executive Vice-President of The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), is in charge of the company’s Finance Department. This includes Investor Relations, Taxation and Strategic Sourcing. CFO since 2005, Vanneste joined Scotiabank in 1999 as Senior Vice-President and Chief Auditor. Graduating from the University of Toronto in 1975, he received his chartered accountant designations in the same year and later obtained a Masters of Business Administration from University of Western Ontario in 1999. Prior to Scotiabank, Vanneste spent 24 years with KPMG LLP eventually becoming a partner of the company. A member of several charity boards, Vanneste has been a part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario since 1984 and was Chairman of the Board from 1994 to 1996. Vanneste is also a member of the Financial Committee of the Canadian Bankers Association. In June 2006, Vanneste was appointed a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

TD Canada Trust: Colleen Johnston

Colleen M. Johnston has been the Chief Financial Officer and Group Head of finance for TD Canada Trust since 2005. Graduating from York University, Johnston received her chartered accountant designations in 1984 at Price Waterhouse. Before her current position, Johnston spent fifteen years at Soctiabank holding various senior positions. Accruing awards, Johnston is widely acknowledged as a leader in the financial industry. She was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2006 by Women’s Executive Network, inducted into the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame in 2007, named “Best Chief Financial Officer” by Canadian Business in 2009, and in 2010 was named one of the “Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by U.S. Banker Magazine for the second year. Colleen is a volunteer of charity organizations and is currently the Chair of the Board of Development Committee of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.



Bank of Montreal: Russel C. Robertson

Russel C. Robertson is the CFO of the Bank of Montreal (BMO). Robertson started his career with a degree from the University of Western Ontario. In 1969 he pursued a career at Arthur Andersen LLP in Toronto leading to a variety of senior roles including Canadian Managing Partner from 1994 until 2002. When Arthur Andersen LLP merged with Deloitte, Robertson became Deloitte and Touch LLP Vice-Chairman working closely with BMO as Lead Client Service Partner. In 2008 Robertson joined BMO as interim Chief Financial Officer and was appointed official CFO in 2009. Robertson, over the years, has been heavily involved with a variety of educational, community and arts organizations including Schulich School of Business, Junior Achievement, Royal St. George’s College and the National Ballet of Canada. In Spring 2011, Robertson will be promoted to Executive Vice President of Business Integration at BMO.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce: David Williamson

David Williamson, the CFO and Senior Executive Vice-President of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), has the overall responsibility for financial, management and regulatory reporting, maintenance of accounting records, tax planning, compliance and liaising with CIBC investors. Williamson’s wealth of experience started in 1983 by receiving a degree from McMaster University. A Chartered Accountant, Williamson has previous knowledge from all over the financial board. Previous positions have included working as a management consultant with international banks, such as the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland. Williamson was also President and CEO of Derlan Industries, Senior Vice-President of Strategic Planning and Development for Canada Life, Executive Vice President and CFO for Clarica Life Insurance Company and President and CEO of Atlas Cold Storage. Joining CIBC in 2008, Williamson was appointed the CFO position. ** As this article went to press, David Williamson was promoted to Senior Executive Vice-President, CIBC, and Group Head, Retail and Business Banking. Kevin Glass is the new CIBC CEO**

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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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