Blockchain, remote work and tax tech—all on the radar of CFOs this week
Here’s what happened this week:
As the Omicron variant spreads, some leaders need to “defeat cognitive biases, avoid denying reality,” and allow for remote work, according to Gleb Tsipursky, Ph.D., CEO of the consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. A UNC-Chapel Hill and Harvard grad, Tsipursky spent 15 years in academia studying behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience. “Unfortunately, most companies are not pivoting effectively to meet Omicron,” he wrote in a Fortune opinion piece. “In response to Omicron, companies like Google, Uber, and Ford have been bringing out the same old ‘delay the office reopening’ play that they used with Delta.” This type of leadership behavior is not only “puzzling” and counterproductive, but a cognitive bias called the ostrich effect, according to Tsipursky.
After a company in the crypto and blockchain ecosystem introduced “Bividends,” its stock price received a boost. BTCS Inc., (Nasdaq: BTCS) focused on digital assets and blockchain technologies, recently announced it will be the first Nasdaq-listed company to pay a Bividend, a dividend payable in Bitcoin to shareholders. BTCS intends to pay 5 cents per share in Bitcoin. Investors not interested in a Bividend can receive a cash dividend of 5 cents. Founded in 2013, BTCS specializes in blockchain infrastructure operations and provides data analytics tools for crypto portfolios. The company’s CFO, Michael Prevoznik, explained why BTCS is now taking this step.
EY’s 2022 Tax and Finance Operations Survey, released on Tuesday, is based on the insight of 1,650 global executives in a dozen industries. And tax and finance leaders foresee an increase in spending on the horizon due to pending legislation and regulation, talent matters, technology and data. As digital transformation is on the upswing, 85% of companies with $30 billion or more in revenue plan to spend $2 million or more on advanced tax technology over the next three years, according to the report. Respondents noted that there’s a skills gap in the tax function. About 84% plan to change their tax and finance operating models to prioritize automation, use of shared service centers and co-sourcing.
Data from LinkedIn released on Wednesday found that from 2020 to 2021, job postings with titles including “cryptocurrency,” “blockchain” and “Bitcoin,” and also “Ethereum” have increased 395% year over year in the U.S. In comparison, tech industry job postings grew about 98%. Most jobs are related to software and finance, according to LinkedIn. However, professional services jobs like accounting are also seeing a rise. I did a job search on the site under “blockchain,” the foundation for crypto. It garnered more than 28,000 results. Searching by entry-level, there were about 2,900 listings. Looking for mid-senior, director and executive levels, I received about 13,000 job listings, including CFO jobs.
The next edition of CFO Daily will be on Tuesday in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. “The time is always right to do what is right.” —Dr. King.
A new survey by global advisory Willis Towers Watson (WTW) looks into U.S. employers' salary increase projections for 2022. Based on a survey of 1,004 companies, 32% of respondents said they've upped their salary increase projections. The employers are now budgeting an overall average increase of 3.4% this year, compared with an average 3% increase they had budgeted in June 2021, according to WTW. In 2021, on average, companies gave employees a pay increase of 2.8%. Industries that expect to see the largest salary increases in 2022 compared with their actual increases in 2021 include retail and wholesale trade, from 2.8% to 3.6%, and finance, an increase to 3.5% from 2.7%.
Here are a few Fortune reads for the weekend:
Robert Adams will retire from his position of SVP and CFO at ALLETE (NYSE:ALE), an energy company. Adams will remain at ALLETE until June 2022. The company has initiated steps to identify a new CFO and expects to do so in February. Adams has held a variety of roles in his more-than-35-year career with ALLETE, including VP of finance, chief risk officer and VP of business development and SVP of energy-centric businesses.
Adrian Bartella was named CFO at The Fresh Market, Inc., a grocery retail brand, effective Jan. 17. Bartella has over 15 years of experience leading finance and accounting teams, most recently as CFO at Hudson Group for nine years. He was CFO during its IPO in February 2018 where he led the SEC registration process as well as the roadshow marketing process with institutional investors, and subsequently working with equity research analysts and presenting on quarterly earnings calls.
David Krisher was named CFO at Krystal Restaurants. Prior to joining Krystal, he served as CFO for Ascent Hospitality Management, the parent organization of Huddle House and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery. During his time as CFO for Ascent, David led the acquisition of Perkins. He also oversaw capital management and liquidity efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, including lease deferrals, renegotiation of credit agreements, and managing other essential financial needs.
Carlos Olea was named CFO at The Howard Hughes Corporation (NYSE: HHC), effective Jan. 12. Olea has been with the company since 2017 and has served as chief accounting officer since 2019, overseeing the financial accounting strategy for the nation’s largest portfolio of MPCs. Prior to joining HHC, he served as chief accounting officer at Carr Properties, a Washington, D.C.-based owner-operator and developer. Previously, he was a senior manager with the Advisory Services practice of Ernst and Young and a director of technical accounting and financial reporting with AvalonBay Communities in Arlington, Virginia.
Duane Portwood was named CFO at Whole Earth Brands, Inc. (Nasdaq: FREE), a global food company, effective Jan. 10. Portwood brings over 30 years of experience. Most recently, he was CFO for Tegra Global. Previously, he served as EVP and CFO for Akorn, Inc. He also held a 10-year tenure at The Home Depot, Inc. as VP and corporate controller. Prior to this, Portwood served as the controller for the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Portwood began his career as a CPA with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Ronald N. South was named SVP and CFO at Henry Schein, Inc. (Nasdaq: HSIC), which provides health care solutions to office-based dental and medical practitioners, effective April 29, 2022. South will succeed Steven Paladino will retire as EVP and CFO after 35 years with the company and CFO for 29 years. South has been Henry Schein’s VP of corporate finance since 2008 and chief accounting officer since 2013.
Shaun Williams was named CFO at Allen Media Studios, a division of Byron Allen’s Media Group (AMG). Williams will oversee financial planning for Allen Media Studios, which includes all AMG television, motion picture, digital, and streaming content production and distribution. Williams brings more than 25 years of experience, most recently as CFO at Solstice Studios. He was also previously head of finance at the London-based ALL3Media. Before that, Williams was CFO for the film and television production company Studio 8, and he also served as the SVP of finance for GK Films/Film District. In addition, Williams was also VP of business operations for BET Networks and VP of finance for Twentieth Century Fox.
David Zinsner was named EVP and CFO at Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC), effective Jan. 17. Zinsner has more than 20 years of financial and operational experience in semiconductors and manufacturing, most recently as EVP and CFO at Micron Technology, Inc. Prior to his role at Micron, Zinsner served as president and COO at Affirmed Networks. He also served as SVP of finance and CFO at Analog Devices and SVP and CFO at Intersil Corp.
"A lot more people know about it and are investing in it than most realize. It’s kind of like teenagers buying beer. They’re doing it, they just don’t want you to know about it."
— Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Engines, on Americans increasingly owning Bitcoin, as told to CNBC.
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