ING-FINEX Award returns in search for top ‘game-changing’ CFO

Published July 29, 2020, 11:05 AM

by Jonathan Castillo

Dutch financial giant ING Bank N.V. and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the country’s premier organization for finance and business professionals, roll out the red carpet anew as the ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award returns for the 14th year this November.

Hailed as the most prestigious annual search for the country’s top financial steward, the partnership project between the two major institutions began in 2006. It was envisioned to inspire the next generation of Philippine financial leaders by recognizing the work of those making their mark in the present. 

Jose Jerome Pascual III

“The CFO’s maxim should be: ‘Create value, protect reputation and empower each other,” said Jose Jerome Pascual III, President of FINEX and 2014 ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Awardee. “Creating value enhances reputation, and protecting reputation enhances value. Empowerment ensures this cycle happens.”

Nominations for this year’s ING-FINEX CFO of the Year are now open. Consistent with the present theme of FINEX, “2020 Vision: Leading the Way Toward World-Class Philippine Business,” the search for the ING FINEX CFO of the Year 2020 shall honor the exceptional executive who leads the way and changes the game. Thus, the campaign title for this year’s program is “The Game-Changing CFO.”

The theme, however, refers not only to the awardee’s winning character as a difference maker. “The Game-Changing CFO” also serves as a challenge for the winner to live up to the title in the time of a pandemic when the world, the industry, or the very game itself, has changed.

“The role of the CFO has certainly undergone a profound transformation—from that of support role to one that is forward-looking and strategic,” says Domingo C. Go, Liaison Director of ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award Committee. “Today, the CFO has become even more critical—not only for the all-encompassing financial function, but also for the critical stewardship of the company’s asset and to navigate the sea of uncertainty in this time of a pandemic.”

According to Mignon Ramos, Chair of the ING-Finex CFO of the Year Award Search and Selection Sub-Committee, the CFO is the CEO’s partner in making key business decisions as the world grapples with a global health crisis.

“When the CEO of a large company needs to act on pandemic-related issues affecting the business, from yielding little to no revenue to wanting to help communities in need, the person to call is the CFO,” Ramos says. “The ING-Finex CFO of the Year Award recognizes that crucial role of the CFO in today’s world.”

The search is open to CFOs of any company operating in the Philippines, whether local or foreign-owned, and privately held or publicly listed. The search uses clearly defined qualitative and quantitative criteria designed by FINEX Foundation, together with the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. 

The selection process gives equal weight to the CFO’s performance in various roles as the company’s strategist, catalyst, steward, and operator. 

“As a strategist and catalyst, the CFO plays a significant role in creating value for the corporation,” Pascual says. “As steward and operator, the CFO is expected to protect the reputation of the Finance function and the company as a whole, with both internal and external stakeholders.”

The search involves a strict endorsement and nomination process, followed by a rigorous set of panel interviews to determine the new CFO of the Year awardee.

Past winners include Delfin Gonzalez Jr., who won the inaugural trophy when he was CFO of Globe Telecom, followed by Sherisa Nuesa, who was recognized as CFO of Manila Water. The awardees in the succeeding years were Jose Sio, Ysmael Baysa, Jaime Ysmael, Jeffrey Lim, Felipe Yalong, Jose Jerome Pascual III, Luis Juan Oreta, Danny Yu, Jose Teodoro Limcaoco, and Ferdinand Constantino. Last year, the coveted title went to Augusto D. Bengzon, CFO, Treasurer, and Chief Compliance Officer of Ayala Land, Inc.

“Living in an era where the most basic human experiences are upended from the old normal means nothing is the same,” says Hans Sicat, Country Manager of ING Bank N.V. Manila Branch. “Today’s CFO needs to grapple with this reality, and help drive his firm past survival into growth. This is the epitome of the ING-FINEX game-changing CFO.”