CFO Spotlight – Campbell Richards, CFO Benetas

Australia’s aged care sector is undergoing major changes as it prepares for a future where more people will rely on it.

The number of people aged over 65 are expected to increase by 6 per cent by 2050, reaching just under a quarter (22 per cent) of the population, according to Deloitte research. The sector received $36.03 billion in the 2023-24 federal government budget – up by $5.06 billion in the previous year – to support providers and workers, and also implement reforms announced by the 2020 Royal Commission into aged care.

It all makes for an interesting time to be in aged care, but Campbell Richards, CFO and company secretary of non-profit aged service provider Benetas, is so far enjoying the challenges. Richards took on the role in July 2022 after 10 years at Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

Here, Campbell shares his advice with CFO Magazine’s Kate Jones on leading a team through today’s tighter economic conditions and lends an insight into the role of an aged care CFO.

CFO Magazine – What is the best piece of advice as a CFO when dealing with conflict?

CR – “I’ve always found that it’s important to first understand what the different views are that are causing the conflict. Sometimes conflict can arise from misunderstandings or a lack of information or clarity. Those are fairly easy to resolve through improved communication.

“It also helps to make sure you bring an open mind to the discussion and to be clear on your own objectives. Conflicts can be challenging but when we successfully overcome them, they also offer us an opportunity to learn and grow.

“And finally, conflict avoidance never works – don’t shy away, embrace the diversity of views and the opportunity to create alignment.”

CFO Magazine – What keeps CFOs up at night?

CR – “The role of a CFO can be challenging at times. It involves making sure the organisation is being fiscally responsible, being the steward of company assets as well as ongoing analysis of strengths, weaknesses and market developments.

“While this may sound daunting to some, being part of a strong leadership team that really cares about doing a great job and delivering a quality service to the business, makes all the difference.”

CFO Magazine – As a CFO, how confident are you in the current climate?

CR – “With high inflation and workforce shortages experienced across a number of industries, the current climate certainly poses a number of challenges. 

“As an established not-for-profit aged care provider with a strong reputation for quality and service, we’re quite buoyant about the future given the aged care reforms and the market opportunities that present.  We provide an essential service to the community that remains in strong demand.”

CFO Magazine – What are some of the biggest challenges facing Australian CFOs this year?

CR – “Keeping in front of the issues and across the current economic pressures is a big challenge.  But we can also play a larger role within our businesses beyond the finances to integrate more, understand the business challenges and to help drive performance.”

CFO Magazine – Are CFOs being asked to do more with less this year? And is this stretching CFOs?

CR – “Most businesses would be experiencing cost pressures due to rising inflation and wages, but times like these can also lead to even more innovations, as we find ways to deliver high level services more effectively and efficiently to our customers. We’re always looking for ways to deliver more, because it means we can contribute more towards our vision.”

CFO Magazine – How often are you working from the office now and how many hours a week do you typically work?

CR – “We find that collaboration within the office leads to great results and team building, but we’re also balancing this with a work-from-home model that offers flexibility to our people.  Personally, I’m working most days in the office, and averaging 50 hour weeks at present.”