Auckland Council CFO resigns for mystery private sector role

Departing Auckland Council chief financial officer Sue Tindal joined Mainfreight's board last December

Auckland Council has announced the resignation of chief financial officer Sue Tindal, less than three years after her appointment and in the midst of the 2018-28 Long Term Plan process.

In an internal statement to staff, council chief executive Stephen Town said Ms Tindal's departure is due to her accepting a private sector role she will take up in early 2018.

No further information is available, although last December Ms Tindal joined the board of transport and logistics group Mainfreight as a non-executive director.

She has previously held senior executive roles at Westpac Banking Corp and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

When Ms Tindal joined the council, the organisation had assets of almost $40 billion, annual revenue of $3.3 billion and (as at June 30, 2014) debt of $6.3 billion.

In its latest annual report, the council was recorded as having net debt of $7.969 billion (after cash on hand), net assets of $35.8 billion and annual revenue of $4.129 billion.

Just last month, Auckland Council’s credit ratings were reaffirmed by international agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Service as, respectively, AA and Aa2 on a stable outlook.

At the time, Ms Tindal said the ratings reaffirmation “represents the council’s ongoing commitment to meet its financial obligations and prudently manage its financial position through a period of unprecedented growth for the city and demand on infrastructure.”

In his memo to staff today, Mr Town emphasised Ms Tindal’s “significant contribution in a number of key areas,” including the reaffirmation and just finished second benchmark euro bond issue, and:

• completing the 2015-25 Long Term Plan and two subsequent annual plans;

• leading and supporting the completion of NewCore;

• renegotiating the council’s arrangements with SAP, resulting in $33 million of savings over the life of the current Long Term Plan; and

• establishing a savings and efficiency programme that has now been expanded to include “value for money reviews.”

Not surprisingly, the valedictory was silent on such less-than-positive subjects as the recent criticism of the council’s burgeoning $45.6 million annual bill for its communications and engagement departments.

Ms Tindal finishes at the council on November 17 “and she will resign from her current role during the summer holiday period,” Mr Town’s memo said.

Matthew Walker, general manager, financial strategy and planning, will take up the role of acting group chief financial officer from November 20.

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Great ! Now get someone in there who knows what a budget is !

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Sadly its Stephen Towns job to know what a budget is and stick to it and all a new CFO will do is what he tells them to do.. The CFO's job is to manage the financial risk, financial planning and reporting...in other words find money, plug gaps where needed and lets face it, with the spending increasing at the pace they are at the Council then she would need to employ lots of minions to be able to keep up!!

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Not sure they or Guff actually cares what a budget is.

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Debt growing way faster than revenues, a $5B drop in assets AND a revenue to debt multiple sitting on 200% since taking office. Yup, I'd be quitting with my head hanging in shame as well!

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Pretty hard to do anything about it when the councils members want their share of magic beans, a gold plated office chair and a roasted unicorn for their meal.

After all there is always plenty more of other peoples money.

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Yeah, she simply counts the beans (or lack there of). Blame sits elsewhere.

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Apparently, the motto has been modified to, "The Buck Stops Nowhere".

Harry Truman would be rolling in his grave...

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Auckland Council has always been happy to have a buck stop with them. Then to demand another buck or maybe five. After all, they need to move offices again, create another cycleway no-one uses, pay for well connected chums to have highly paid do-nothing jobs in London and San Francisco, sent staff to climate change conferences and generally otherwise waste what money they're given.

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Ease up on the cycle lanes. As someone who has just started using them for commuting (in the rare places they do exist), I have been surprised how busy they are. Pretty cheap by comparison to a road (its essentially just a reappropriation of roadside parking), and every person on a bike is one less person sitting in front of useless people like you in a car! win win!

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Cycle lanes might be ok in countries that have a good climate. But down here in wgton when the good old freezing cold southerly comes barraging through, at any time of the year, you won't see anybody out riding on them. Well just the usual idiot that goes out in any weather. Cycle lanes are a waste of time, and only cater to the pc types.

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Agreed, I will ride more once the petrol tax and the increase in oil price start to hit next year.
Council is in a lose/lose situation, lack of funding and increasing population from immigration. Labour must act now.

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Well, yeah, did you witness the last nine years in Wellington? After nine years they were still trying to blame Labour for anything they could.

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My 2 cents: Mystery Private Sector Role = ASB CEO

https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/asb-chief-barbara-chapman-resigns-b-208308

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Really ?
Should I be closing my account with ASB immediately ?
Please do tell more...

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There are still a few real CFOs in NZ who could clean it up

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I guess she realised the governance and CEO were outta control and tried her best to bring good governance and management disciplines but was ignored.

Dont blame her leaving. Surprised she stayed 3 years. Not a good look on your CV as a CFO for the numbers to all be going in the wrong direction.

AC is a governance disaster. The Councillors are being given the mushroom treatment by the Town Clerk and the Boards and CEOs of the CCO;s.

Lucky for them the Councillor arent subject to the Companies Act. If they were they would be in deep strife not adhering to the law and regulation that Cos Board are bound by.

The rates money just keeps rolling in with the ratepayers treated like an ATM machine. Thats the only thing that saves them. If they had competition the Council would be insolvent.

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I wouldn't put too much emphasis on blaming the CFO for high debt, escalating budgets, or deteriorating net assets. These are all a result of decisions made/ enabled by the governance structure. The CFO just manages the money flow an treasury functions within policy settings (as approved by the Council).
So don't expect a CFO to be a fix or a scapegoat for a system that allows anybody to be elected on basis of popularity rather than competence.
I suspect that the move will have a rather mundane explanation - chasing more dollars and/or higher status for an improving CV. Maybe there is also a desire to return to the real commercial world before the CV gets tainted with too much time spent in a parallel universe making her unemployable outside of local government..

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CFOs have been known to leave because the business' financial model is "broken," can't function in the long term and brings into question whether the organisation is a "going concern" or is it "going to" concern ratepayers when the next round of rate increases comes along.

If Auckland's asset(s) have a devaluation due to external forces (increased interest rates globally) then their increased costs are going to overwhelm the city.
Personally, if AC cut 5000 jobs at an average of $125,000 each, then add some staff who actually do work like cutting berms, maintaining assets (say, 1000 staff at $52,000 each) the city would be $573 Million better off each year and we would have 1000 more workers doing valuable work. For those who say it can't be done, take a look at Brisbane, 8000 staff compared to 12000 in Auckland. The cities are about the same size and they don't have a regional fuel tax either.

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The CFO seat is open at BNZ?

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Anyone else in NZ heard of the term 'post-separation employment'?

Anyone else in NZ aware of the potential corruption risks involved in 'post-separation employment'?

Anyone else in NZ aware that other countries have laws in place to help stop 'post-separation employment' corruption risks?

FYI

http://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/preventing-corruption/736-knowing-your-risks/...

Post-separation employment

Post-separation employment is the situation where a public official leaves the public sector and obtains employment in the private sector.

The principle underlying the management of post-separation employment is the need to ensure that public sector decisions are made only on their merits and not compromised by extraneous considerations or personal interests.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet Personnel Handbook refers to this issue in Section 8-12:

Employees should not use their position to obtain opportunities for future employment.

They should not allow themselves or their work to be influenced by plans for, or offers of, employment outside the department.

The type of employment which may be cause for concern is that which bears a close or sensitive relationship with the person's former position as a public official.

Examples might be regulators who go to work in an industry they formerly regulated, an adviser or chief executive who resigns from the public service to work in the private sector in the area of his or her former expertise, or a former government minister who obtains work as a political lobbyist.

The risk of corruption is higher if the post-separation work involves contact with the former department, colleagues, or staff of the former public official.

For the most part former public officials have no restrictions imposed on the type of employment they can obtain after they leave the public sector, and many post-separation employment problems only emerge after the public official has left public sector employment.

Corrupt conduct related to the post-separation employment of a public official can occur either before or after the official leaves public employment."

Penny Bright
'Anti-corruption whistle-blower'.

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Can you please do my budget before Christmas too please? No expense is too much.

The Tax fairy

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Why don’t you people check your facts and get a life. Council debt has increased because people like you demand new infrastructure. Surprise, when you invest in new infrastructure you get an increase in total assets - the apparent bean counters should know that net assets on a balance sheet equals the value of all assets less debt. How hard is that? As for saying Ms Tindal should hang her head in shame, why do you think that a person of her experience and ability should do a job that sees her criticised for decisions that are made by the people we elect to govern Auckland? It is our fault if we vote people into office who lack the experience, commercial acumen and credibility to put their own agendas aside and act in the best interests of Auckland. Good luck Auckland ... with the attitude of ignorant people and biased views that get far too much airtime, one wonders what solutions you offer. Criticism and blaming others is the easy and cowardly way out. By the way Ms Bright - pay your rates or shut up. As for suggesting that someone who came to Council from a very strong private sector background has used their thankless role to obtain advantage in the private sector is laughable and shows what a drain and disgrace you are to the good people who do pay their rates in Auckland.

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A chief financial officer (CFO) is the senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. The CFO's duties include tracking cash flow and financial planning as well as analysing the company's financial strengths and weaknesses and proposing corrective actions. The CFO is similar to a treasurer or controller because they are responsible for managing the finance and accounting divisions and for ensuring that the company’s financial reports are accurate and completed in a timely manner.

The CFO reports to the chief executive officer (CEO) but has significant input in the company's investments, capital structure and how the company manages its income and expenses. The CFO works with other senior managers and plays a key role in a company's overall success, especially in the long run.

Now, where the heck has that buck got to now?

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As I said the Town Clerk runs the Council along with the Boards and CEO of the oxymoron CCOs.

The Councillors rubber stamp what they told to do. They are deliberately snowed or kept in the dark.

As I said if they were Directors of an NZX company they would be in serious trouble for a lack of over sight and a lack of knowledge of the actions of the CEO senior execs and the CCO operations.

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I have been a ratepayer since 1973 44 years. My demands on the Council over that time have been to deal with;

Roads, Rubbish Parks Libraries .

Over that time my rates have increased 500% of the CPI and average wage and salaries ( NZ Stats Dept).

I have witnessed the most appalling bad governance and management over that time.

No fiscal discipline. No attempt to live within what the Ratepayers can afford to pay.

An arrogance of entitlement to increase rates to satisfy minority pressure groups rather than the majority.

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John Fredericks
Are you one of the 234 employed by the council at a cost of $46 Million to respond to criticism of AC by its principal stakeholder - the ratepayer ?
If you are then you and your colleagues can get a real job and start servicing the much neglected needs of Auckland residents and ratepayers.

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Just another point here.
I dislike when terms like "demand new infrastructure" are used.
There was also a comment in the NBR about Watercare CEO Mr Jaduram commenting during the recent Auck water crisis that "Aucklanders were spoilt" with uninterrupted water supply.

Auck ratepayers are just asking to get what they have paid and are paying for. It works fine in every other industry. It is this type of arrogant culture which must pervade AC, whereby the AC "Royalty" treat ratepayers as mere peasants who should shut up and be happy with their lot.

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She is going to CBL Corporation according to the stories.

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