David Wright, Advice & Insurance CFO and Appointed Actuary at CBA shares his insights on what it takes to be a successful CFO.
You need to see past the numbers and take a holistic view, instead of seeing just dollars and cents.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?
I couldn’t narrow it down, so I have two answers. The first piece of advice was to think about the data and the results as more than just numbers. For someone like me who’s worked predominantly in insurance, it’s important to understand what claims are and that you are dealing with people at possibly some of the worst times in their lives. You need to see past the numbers and take a holistic view, instead of seeing just dollars and cents.
Secondly, it’s to not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and have a go. For me as an Actuary it’s resulted in a CFO role where I’ve ended up leading a team of fantastic actuarial and finance professionals and really enjoying it.
What do you believe will be the most important skills within finance over the next 5 years and why?
I think at the heart of finance, core skills such as financial acumen, control and compliance will always be critical, but the most important skills will be analytics and insights and business partnering. This will involve working with the business to bring together strategy, performance, risk and the environment we operate in to drive actions and outcomes.
What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Next year my wife and I are welcoming our 4th child into the family, so for me it’s very much and will continue to be juggling those priorities of work and family. It’s important to be organised, to create and develop a strong team and I’m a very strong advocate for flexibility – I travel from the Southern Highlands. And of course, having an amazing wife also helps too!
What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?
I think it’s having honest and transparent communication when dealing with internal and external stakeholders. It helps you to build trust, develop team members and business relationships. I also have an approach of getting in and rolling up my sleeves wherever needed.
What's the most rewarding part of being a CFO?
For me it has been the personal development of becoming a CFO; working with a broader team and learning a new set of skills has been very rewarding. Ultimately, being out of my comfort zone and enjoying the challenge.
How do you see the CFO role evolving over the next 5 years?
I think finance, like many industries, will be influenced by technology, automation and data in general. The CFO will need to take advantage of these opportunities to bring more value to the business. The need to interpret data and deliver insights quickly will be critical in the future, which also provides the opportunity to bring new and different skill sets into finance teams.