Archive for the ‘Financial’ Category

We Need To Talk About CFOs

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Apparently few others really understand what the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) thinks is important. The most recent survey by McKinsey and Company on CFO’s reveals a range of issues relating to CFOs (read it here). While the whole article deals with a number of observations from the survey relating to the CFO and their roles, one in particular highlights how important it is for the key leaders of the organisation and the CFO to have a conversation to be on the same page.

The following table lists the top 10 activities the CFO believes they have engaged in which adds financial value to the organisation. Next to that is the ranking given to the same activity by other leaders in organisations:


CFO Ranking

Other Leaders Ranking

Performance management (e.g., metrics, value management, incentives/targets)



Strategic leadership



Traditional finance roles (e.g., accounting, controlling, planning and analysis)



Organisational transformation (enterprise-wide or within finance organisation)



Finance capabilities (e.g., finance-organisation talent pipeline)



Speciality finance roles (e.g., treasury, audit, investor relations)



Cost and productivity management across organisation



Support for digital capabilities and advanced analytics



M&A (including post-merger integration)



Capital allocation (e.g., capital-expenditure allocation)



Pricing of products and/or services




It is interesting that so much of what the CFOs think is important other leaders place less importance on. The risk with this is that the CFOs will be spending time on activities important to them, but not necessarily important to the rest of the business, potentially causing tension and issues between the leadership team and business units. It is important that leaders within an organisation have the conversation to ensure everyone agrees with what is important, and remain focused on those.

And Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you achieve this, and indeed with any aspect of your business. Simply contact us a or call on 02 49802168.

Book Review: ‘The Tyranny of Metrics’

Thursday, July 5, 2018

“There are things that can be measured. There are things that are worth measuring. But what can be measured is not always what is worth measuring; what gets measured may have no relationship to what we really want to know.”

This statement, and the subsequent arguments presented by Jerry Muller in his book ‘The Tyranny of Metrics’ (2018, Princeton University Press), were initially a challenge for me, with my background as an accountant. But I warmed to his argument and grew to appreciate what he was presenting.

Muller is a professor of History at Catholic University of America and the author of numerous books on markets and capitalism. He draws on publically available information, numerous research and reports to substantiate his position, and provides a number of supporting examples that are easy to relate to.

A central theme of the book is that ‘many matters of importance are too subject to judgement and interpretation to be solved by standardized metrics. Ultimately, the issue is not one of metrics versus judgement, but metrics informing judgement…” (p. 183).

I felt it was a very convincing argument which has caused me to consider the metrics I use and am exposed to. Being very well organized, with logical arguments and ample evidences, the book is easy to read over a relatively short space of time. It would appeal to anyone involved in developing or using performance metrics.

Overall, this book is a balanced and worthwhile read, and as noted, is not about the evils of measuring. Muller’s summary would be captured by this statement from page 4 of the book: “The problem is not measurement, but excessive measurement and inappropriate measurement – not metrics, but metric fixation”.

Reviewed by Warrick long, Lecturer, Avondale Business School

ABS Challenges Directors

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Board of Directors of Adventist Senior Living NNSW recently completed several modules of professional development, delivered by the Avondale Business School team. The sessions were held over three days, in February and May, and topics included the roles and responsibilities of directors, as well as finance, marketing, human resources and information management for directors.

Warrick Long and Associate Professor Lisa Barnes shared cutting edge practices and the latest research in these areas, also drawing on their extensive experiences as directors and leaders in the not-for-profit sector, including with aged care and disability services. The directors appreciated the interactive nature of the sessions, with up to date and practical information. Their feedback reflected that while they had been challenged, they were presented with easy to understand relevant concepts.

ABS presenter, Warrick Long, noted that “this is a great example of a board of directors taking their responsibilities very seriously, and endeavoring to improve their knowledge and sharpen their governance skills – it was a pleasure to work with them”.

The Avondale Business School has a suite of programs that can help your directors and leaders develop the winning edge for your business. For more information, contact Warrick Long to discuss customizing something unique for your organisation.

Avondale Business School collaborates with Business

Monday, May 15, 2017

Business and College collaboration is a wonderful way to enhance student learning. A recent excursion organised by the Avondale Business School to Sydney saw students visit 3 business to get insights into risk management, marketing, human resources and accounting.

The first business to open its doors was the Mascot Air Base facility. Manager of Airline safety lead them into the emergency procedures training facility which demonstrated the approach to risk management, in particular in relation to the evacuation of passengers in the event of an emergency. Students were privileged to be shown the various different aeroplane doors used to deploy passengers, rafts and survival kits. They were also shown the pool used for ocean training, in both the dark and in the rain.

Students were then put into the emergency procedure training simulator, where they experienced a crash landing in which the cabin lights turned off and the cabin filled with smoke. Students followed the orders of the cabin staff in relation to “evacuate, evacuate” and were led safely out of the simulator. Some students also were given life vests to deploy, and shown the various safety features such as the water activated light. Students had a better appreciation for flight crew and risk management procedures, after this confronting experience.

Students then headed out to Allianz stadium, for a tour of the facility. Students were taken down the ramp into the stadium, and the logistics of running the stadium that is shared by three different codes of sport (NRL, Rugby Union and Football) was explained. The marketing of the stadium signs, the sponsorship of the different codes and general keeping of the grounds were explained. Students asked questions such as who are the sponsors and what are the benefits of sponsorship from a marketing perspective.

Student then headed into the Sydney Roosters facility where they were led into the boardroom for an “Apprentice” style session (yes Mark Bouris is on the Board of the Sydney Roosters), by the Chief Financial Controller Mr Manuel Vlandis. Students were presented with financial information about the club and the challenges of running a rugby leagues club from a financial perspective. Questions were asked of the salary cap, costs of injured players, and how the model works in relation to revenue streams such as memberships, gate takings and sponsorship. The CFO was happy to answer the questions, and speak of his relationship with the Board and the new strategic plan they are currently developing.

Students then headed next door to the NSW Waratahs headquarters. There the player development manager Lachie McBain explained the complexities of running a rugby club, including issues such as preparing players for life after sport. He talked about the initiatives the club has in place for players such as further education and financial planning. He discussed the available careers in a rugby association, and his role in relation to his employer being RUPA (Rugby Union Players Association), formed to prepare players for life after sport. The club facilities were shown to the students, including the training areas, technology viewing areas and player lounge. Students asked questions in relation to membership numbers, revenue from Foxtel, sponsorship and player wages.

Feedback from the day included the following:

“It gave us insights into jobs where we do not see what happens behind the scenes”

“It was awesome to see business applied in a sporting context”

Avondale Business School will continue working with these businesses in the future, turning textbook learning into the reality of business. As the late Wallaby and Lawyer Ross Turnbull stated “There is nothing that I learnt in SPORT that doesn’t apply to BUSINESS, or LIFE” (2014). This excursion came from research done previously into the education of current sports people for their career after sport, a paper to be presented at the Global Conference on Education and Research (GLOCER 2017), which will be held during May 22-25, 2017 at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus in Sarasota, Florida.


Accounting is Dead! Long Live Accounting!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Accounting TrendsAccounting has been around for thousands of years, albeit in differing guises. As the society around it has changed, so has accounting. We no longer record information on clay tablets via hieroglyphics, and have even recognised that calculators are more useful than an abacus. But that doesn’t mean accounting should not keep on changing.

In a recent article by Rob Nixon (read it here) he points out three trends happening right now in accounting that will change the way accounting functions. While Nixon expands on these points in his article, in summary they are:

  1. Cloud computing – 24/7 access to real time data. Accountants can move from number-cruncher to information analyst
  2. Providing solutions – sending information to clients and stakeholders via newsletters, videos etc to keep them connected and informed.
  3. Data analytics – big data means loads of information that can supplement the traditional income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. The opportunity now exists for deeper analysis of trends and risks.

Accounting is changing, has changed, and we need to adapt to ensure we can meet the opportunities and challenges of this brave new world.

If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long:


P: 02 4980 2168

Intense Employment pressure for Young People

Monday, November 16, 2015

experienceSeven years after the Global Financial Crisis took place, the flow on effects have meant that teenage boys and young men in the labour market today are more likely to be unemployed. Research by the Brotherhood of St Laurence has released findings suggesting young men and women face different impacts from the GFC. Young women are more likely to be underemployed, working some hours but wanting to work more, and young men more likely to be unemployed.

One significant challenge the two sexes face is that employers are demanding more skills and experience than ever before from Australia’s emerging generation. “Young people lacking experience must negotiate a modern economy that is rapidly shifting to a knowledge and service base, striving to be internationally competitive and demanding more than ever of all its employees – including its new entrants,” The Brotherhoods Executive Director, Tony Nicholson said.

The report found that overall young jobseekers had been under “intense pressure” in their hunt for work, and as of August 2015, nearly 290,000 young people were entirely out of work across the country. That figure is more than 50 per cent above, or 100,000 more people, than at the start of the GFC in 2008. The Brotherhood analysed the Australian Bureau of Statistics trend data and found that at 14.6 per cent the unemployment rate for young men was 2 per cent higher than for young women.

A number of recommendations have been put forward as to how to deal with the issue, including targeted funding of education programs under a ‘needs based’ funding model, which recognizes that those facing educational disadvantage may require additional assistance.

For the full article see the link below:‘intense’-employment-pressure-–-report?utm_source=Pro+Bono+Australia+-+email+updates&utm_campaign=c35320290d-jobs_09_1111_9_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5ee68172fb-c35320290d-146874989#

Peter Williams

HRM lecturer, ABS

Fraud in Your Organisation

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Workplace FraudLate in 2014 BDO released their 2014 Fraud in Not-for-profits survey (read it here), which yielded some very interesting results. While one would like to imagine that the moltruistic nature of NFP’s means they are immune from fraud, this would be misguided, and in fact the evidence shows otherwise.

Unfortunately fraud in any organisation is a fact of life. KPMG’s most recent fraud survey of all organisation types was completed in 2012 (read it here), and a quick summary of their findings show that:

  • A total of $372.7m was lost to fraud, with 86% being in the financial services sector
  • There were 194,545 incidents in the 12 months
  • The average loss per organisation experiencing fraud was $3.08m
  • 47% of incidents were due to deficient internal controls.

The typical villain in the KPMG survey is:

  • Male (3 times more likely than a female)
  • An employee
  • Acting alone
  • No known history of fraud
  • Earns close to $110k per year
  • Typically motivated by greed/lifestyle or personal financial pressures.

Many organisations that the ABS InfoLink goes out to would be regarded as NFP, so let’s compare the KPMG all organisations survey to the more recent BDO NFP survey.

BDO found that frauds have been decreasing, but the average size ($22,904) and total amount ($3.2m) has increased. And surprisingly, 70% of those experiencing fraud had suffered it previously. Naturally organisations with a higher turnover are more likely to experience fraud. The average duration of the fraud was found to be 14 months.

The key risk factors for fraud amongst the NFP community are poor internal controls and poor segregation of duties. Cash theft is the most common type of fraud, followed by kickbacks/bribery and fraudulent personal benefits.

The typical villain in the BDO NFP Fraud Survey is:

  • Paid employee
  • Non-accounting role
  • Over 50
  • Acting alone
  • Motivated by financial pressures and maintaining a lifestyle.
  • The higher value frauds were motivated by people with gambling issues.

What is fascinating is that 54% of the victim organisations did not report the fraud to police. Only 63% terminated the employee, and 53% did not recover any of the funds.

The three key factors in reducing fraud were found to be external audits, an ethical organisational culture and strong internal controls. Frauds were typically discovered by tip-offs and internal controls.

No matter what type of organisation you are, fraud is a very real and present danger. Having strong internal controls is the most effective way of reducing fraud. Unfortunately, just because you may be an NFP, does not mean you are exempt. The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on effective internal controls and managing your fraud risk – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


P: 02 4980 2168

Making Your Career Count

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Social ImpactIf you want to have a social impact, what is the best career for you? A new online tool has been launched by 80,000 hours, a Centre for Effective Altruism member whose name comes from the approximate number of hours that the average person will spend working in their lifetime. They have developed a career recommender, which utilizes a 6 question quiz in order to recommend the 4 best social impact careers individuals are suited to. Currently 25 careers are able to match those taking the quiz, and it is expected that this number will increase. “We expect the career recommender to remain a core part of our career guide in the future. It’s already useful, but it will become much more so over time as our research expands and we ‘review’ and rate a wider range of paths, especially those in which people can achieve great things without having to have far above average quantitative or language skills, change the questions to more precisely measure people’s key abilities [and] check that it gives good answers for any possible set of inputs,” Executive Director of the Centre for Effective Altruism, Rob Wiblin, said. Read more here.

– Peter Williams, HRM Lecturer, Avondale Business School

How to Open The Donor’s Chequebook

Monday, April 13, 2015

Not all donors are motivated to give by the same strategies – no surprises there. What is surprising is how many charities do not bother to vary their donor appeals to accommodate these different motivations.

Donor MotivationResearchers at the Kellogg Institute have compiled a summary of their various investigations of donor motivations into a guide for charities on how to structure marketing to donors in order to maximise returns. Drawing on the experience of commercial organisations, which recognise it is important to vary the marketing approaches according to their specific target markets, the researchers developed the following four questions to ask, the answers to which guide your organisations marketing program:


  1. Is the potential donor powerful or powerless?
  2. Is the potential donor committed to you organisation or a newcomer?
  3. Does the potential donor value independence or relationships more?
  4. Is the potential donor feeling like resources are abundant or scarce?

The full report (Read it Here), while giving excellent detail and suggestions for developing your marketing strategies, also provides a summary infographic based on these questions that gives suggested strategies based on the answers. This is an excellent quick guide for any entities that seek funding from donors, including churches, schools, and aid agencies.

A challenge for your organisation is to think about whether your marketing strategy is focussed or haphazard? The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on being effective in these areas – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


P: 02 4980 2168

Are Bean-counters More Selfish?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Yes. But I can say that, because I am one of them. Also, I have recent research to back up that statement. The research was conducted by J. Keith Murnighan, Long Wang and Chen-Bo Zhong, and it looked at the over-emphasis on quantitative analysis in problem-solving. That is, relying too much on numbers, and not enough on other, more social factors.


Their research reviewed whether quantifying everything and reducing it to numbers means people would tend to act more unethically and selfishly, taking less account of social consciousness and motives. And they found that people do tend to do so. It appears that greed and selfishness take over and mask the more social factors. This referred to as a ’calculative mindset’.

A calculative mindset works in a short-term frame, but is not the answer for long term sustainability. The researchers propose that a better way of operating is to change the way problems of business are viewed. Rather than thinking exclusively about maximising profits, that is, grabbing as much of the pie as possible, instead think about maximising value, or creating a bigger pie, generating a sustainable business model.

The full article can be viewed here, and it is worth exploring further. As you think about your way of approaching business decisions, are you about a short term or a long term sustainable approach to business?

The Avondale Business School can assist your organisation take a longer term view – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


P: 02 4980 2168