CFO Innovation Awards 2012: And the CFO of the Year Is . . .

It was a dark and stormy night. Literally. Heavy rains fell on Singapore on 28 November shortly before the CFO Innovation Awards 2012 was to start. Several CFOs and other guests were caught in traffic and had to cancel.
Still, more than 120 CFOs and other guests filled the ballroom of the Sheraton Towers Hotel, among them the CFO of the Year.
Winners all in (several) rows
And that winner is . . .  not Andrew Fastow, the CFO of Enron who was honoured with a CFO Excellence Award for Capital Structure Management in 1999 by CFO Magazine in the US. He was subsequently jailed for fraud for six years, released last year and reportedly currently works as a document clerk for a law firm.
CFO of the Year: S Mahalingam
The top honoree at the inaugural CFO Innovation Awards is as different as he can possibly be from the aggressive Fastow, a non-accountant who specialised in financial engineering.
S Mahalingam (right) with SAP's Kowshik Shriman
S Mahalingam, 64, has been with India’s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for more than four decades. “In 33 of those 42 years, I was in the business of TCS,” he says. “I used to write programs, develop systems, do marketing, open international offices, sell in the UK and the US, look after delivery management and also look after HR.”
He became CFO in 2003, as TCS was preparing for its initial public offering. The CEO at that time “suddenly remembered I was a chartered accountant,” he says jokingly.
Mahalingam edged out ten other shortlisted nominees for the CFO of the Year Award. On the quantitative metrics, which account for 40% of the score in the judging, TCS’s performance was particularly outstanding in:
  • revenue growth, up 30% to US$9 billion in 2011
  • profit growth, up 15% to US$1.9 billion in 2011
  • revenue per finance team member of US$18.9 million
  • net profit per finance team member of US$3.9 million
  • finance function cost of 0.37% of revenue
In the qualitative scoring (60% of the total score), the board of judges -- Alain Bridoux, retired CFO of Sandvik Mining and Construction, Emmanuel Walter, former CFO of Alstom Grid China, and Will Russell, Senior Business Director, Hays Finance and Accounting Recruitment – were impressed by:
  • a 344 basis-point improvement in operating margin as a result of a cost reduction programme and tweaking of the business model
  • above-budget exchange rate gains on the US$4-billion hedge book
  • 8.27% yield on surplus cash so far in 2012, by closely monitoring global funds and remitting excess cash to India for investment
  • 147.7% gain in the stock price from 2008 to 18 October 2102, making TCS India’s most valuable company
Finance Team of the Year: TCS
It’s not surprising that TCS was also honoured with the Finance Team of the Year Award. The 482-strong finance function spread across 54 subsidiaries in India and overseas, helped by Shared Services Centre staffed by 156 finance professionals:
  • decreased Days Sales Outstanding from 90 days to 81 days
  • completes monthly closing within four working days
  • finalises quarterly reports within 20 working days
  • releases the annual financial report two months from the end of the financial year
  • ensured that a US$3-billion construction programme to build new TCS campuses was delivered within the budgeted cost and time parameters
TCS Controller Manish Sethi with colleague Sean Davidson  
Partner of the Year Awards
But where will the CFO and the rest of the finance function be without the excellent service of their accounting firms, transaction and treasury banks, insurance brokers, technology providers and other partners?
CFO Innovation readers were asked to vote for the finance function partners that in their judgment deserve to be honored for the excellence of the products and services they provide to the CFO and the finance function.
The top three vote-getters and the winners are:
Best in Audit Services
Ernst & Young
PwC (Partner of the Year)
Best in Risk Advisory
Ernst & Young
PwC (Partner of the Year)
Two gongs for PwC (with Partner Yeow Chee Keong)
Best in Tax Advisory
Ernst & Young (Partner of the Year)
E&Y's Adrian Ball (right) and Paul Newell of Hays
Best Finance and Accounting Outsourcing Provider
Accenture (Partner of the Year)
Best in Finance Transformation Consulting
Accenture (Partner of the Year)
Boston Consulting Group
Accenture won two awards, too (with Robert Bergström)
Best Cash Management Provider
Citi (Partner of the Year)
Standard Chartered
Best in Foreign Exchange
Citi (Partner of the Year)
Standard Chartered
Best in Hedging/Counterparty Risk
Citi (Partner of the Year)
JP Morgan
Where’s crystal No. 3, Citi?
Best in Trade Finance
HSBC (Partner of the Year)
Standard Chartered
Best in Commercial Lending
HSBC (Partner of the Year)
Standard Chartered
Best in Fixed Income/Bonds
Deutsche Bank
HSBC (Partner of the Year)
JP Morgan
Best in Equity/IPO
JP Morgan (Partner of the Year)
JP Morgan (Adam Snyder, right) is best in equity 
Best Insurance Broker
Aon (Partner of the Year)
Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) Asia
Five from Aon, one well-deserved award
Best Treasury Management System (TMS) Solution
Oracle (Partner of the Year)
Wall Street
Oracle’s V Shivakumar and Questex Asia's Jonathan Bigelow
Best Business Intelligence Solution
Cognos Business Intelligence (IBM)
SAP Business Objects (Partner of the Year)
Best Financial Management System (FMS) Solution
SAP (Partner of the Year)
Two awards for SAP (with Shyam Prasad Baddepudi)
Best Finance and Accounting Executive Recruiter
Hays (Partner of the Year)
Michael Page
Robert Walters
The Hays guys and gals celebrate their win
About the Author

Cesar Bacani is Editor-in-Chief of CFO Innovation 



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