Can you tell us about your background and career journey?
I was born in Auckland New Zealand and went on to study a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Auckland. I qualified with Coopers & Lybrand and I am a Member of Australian & New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.
I started working in the banking industry in London, in 1992 with Hill Samuel & NatWest Markets. Then in 1996, I joined Macquarie Group in Sydney, heading the Finance team, supporting the Banking & Property businesses. In 2001, I was seconded to London by Macquarie as Head of Finance EMEA and later became CFO responsible for Finance, Tax, Treasury, HR and Operations for the EMEA region. I joined Mizuho in 2013.
In September this year, I became a newly appointed Board member to Mizuho International. I look forward to contributing to the Board both in my capacity as CFO of Mizuho International but also as we grow the business in Frankfurt, Germany with the establishment of our new subsidiary to service EU clients in the wake of Brexit.
What attracted you to Mizuho?
The drive and ambition of the senior management. The opportunity to make a difference and lead change in a well governed subsidiary of a global financial institution.
What trends do you foresee for the future of Finance?
The bread and butter of Finance will always remain the operation of an ethical and independent function providing stewardship and the provision of accurate and timely financial information. However, the demand from stakeholders for more voluminous, granular and insightful information continues to grow, be that from shareholders, analysts, boards, regulators or senior management. Going forward, the challenge for a Finance function and the CFO is to maintain high standards of accuracy, and embrace technology in meeting these compliance obligations in a timely and cost effective manner, and thus increase capacity for ‘value-added’ services. The CFO and Finance function hold a unique position in the ability to 'see' across an entire bank and therefore is optimally placed to provide insight, analysis and challenge into existing business performance, new proposals and allocation of increasingly scarce resources such as capital, staff and budget funding to ensure the most economic return for shareholders.
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges in the industry that affects investment banking today?
- Banks and financial institutions still are not making enough return on investment, or the return on equity, that shareholders require.
- Increasing competition from financial technology companies- the increasing popularity of FinTech creates a big challenge for traditional banks because they are not able to adapt quickly to changes – not just in technology, but also in operations, culture, and other facets of the industry.
- Regulatory pressure - uncertainty in regulatory changes and regulatory requirements continue to increase. Banks need to spend significant time on governance to ensure regulatory compliance, whilst a large part of banks budgets need to be allotted to being compliant, and on building systems and processes to keep up with the escalating requirements. This focus runs the risk of diverting resources away from a growth agenda and strategic initiatives, analysis and challenge.
What have been the biggest challenges for your business over the past year, and what role did finance play in addressing them?
At Mizuho International we have made outstanding progress over the past four years investing in highly skilled people and state of the art systems, growing the capital base and increasing our product base offering. Whilst this work has paid dividends, the past 12 months have been a period characterised by significant uncertainty in the financial markets and many macroeconomic and geopolitical events. Finance has an instrumental role to play in working alongside all other functions to navigate the business model through 2019, and a post-Brexit environment.
What is one of the best lessons you have learned at Mizuho or in your industry?
Know your audience; tailor your content, approach and communication to the individual situation to get the most chance of a successful outcome.
What's your advice for other finance specialists starting out in their careers?
The numbers are only a part of the story; understand the business and market drivers behind them and the trends the numbers are illustrating.
Don't be afraid to say "sorry I don't understand, could you explain that in less technical jargonised terms please".
To what degree is regulation currently impacting the work of the treasury function?
Regulation provides the essential structure, governance, and prudence around the operation of a treasury function. Whilst the reporting and compliance orientated aspects associated with illustrating regulatory compliance have increased significantly in the past decade, the underlying fundamentals and stewardship obligations should always have been there. The role of a Treasury function remains to ensure adherence within the regulatory framework whilst making the most economic and effective funding decisions for the bank in the pursuit of shareholder value.
What do you think sets Mizuho International apart from its competitors?
A less bureaucratic, more collegiate structure whereby the opportunity exists for all staff to have access to senior management and Board members, and therefore the opportunity for someone to make a difference and be heard is higher.
What technology would you never be without?
Definitely my IPhone, for work life and home life!
How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work?
Family time is very important to me and I cherish time spent with my wife and three daughters. When summer comes along, I enjoy working in the garden. Otherwise I’m a keen supporter of watching a variety of sports - I’m an avid All Blacks supporter, and when it comes to football, Liverpool FC is my team!
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