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What makes a successful CFO? Interview with Aaron Chan


Written by Tamara Wood
Sep 06, 2019
Submitted by Tamara Wood on Fri, 09/06/2019 - 08:50

In my interview with Aaron Chan, CFO at Standard Bank, Aaron shares his insights about what it takes to become a successful CFO.

Keeping a positive and keen to learn mindset. That's the most valuable piece of advice I received during the early days of my career.


What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?

When I moved from big 4 audit firm to join a bank in Compliance, the Financial Controller and CFO (both interviewed me) told me that I was recruited even though I have no experience in banking and local regulatory landscape compared to other candidates, because of the right aptitude and the positive mindset to learn. This helps me in my later career to move into banking trading in ALM and on-wards to Group Treasury and now in Finance. The same mindset propels me to learn, adapt and enhance.

What do you believe will be the most important skills within finance over the next 5 years and why?

Traditionally, Finance has been seen more as reporting, controls, regulatory compliance functions. Although these functions are still crucially key to Finance arena to ensure the bank is safe and sound. Increasingly, balance sheet management skill-set is playing an important role in Finance given the involvement of liquidity planning and the requirements to understand economic environment that affects how the company operates and fund for its business.

What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

Most valuable asset of majority of the organisations I believe is people but is also the most challenging to ensure continuous development of one’s career and wellbeing of employee. I make it a point to understand what my team aspire to learn and ensure sufficient rotation and opportunities to enhance their skillsets and a focus on flexible working culture.

What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?

Successful is a strong word, I think I am a long way from there. But I do have a constant mindset to ask how can I do better than myself. It is a self-reflection of how can I do differently this week than what I did last week, this helps me to continuously improve, whether it is work or family.

What's the most rewarding part of being a CFO?

The ability to see the holistic picture of the direction of the company and that one can make a meaningful contribution to steer the company to achieve its goal.

How do you see the role of the CFO evolving over the next 5 years?

The challenges of CFO is going to increase given the expectation of multifaceted skill-sets. There are expectations to constantly kept up to date on economic and political developments and how that will affect the company and prepare the company for the challenges ahead.

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