Looking back to the mid-1980s, Larry Angelilli knows now that he was at the time witnessing something that others would not see for decades. Before Jack Welch declared war on “green eyeshade” auditors or Indra Nooyi endowed Pepsico with a strategic finance function or conference promoters added the edgy words “The Changing Role of the CFO” to their event agendas, Angelilli was sitting courtside, observing the game-changing moves of Chrysler Corp. CFO Steve Miller.Read More
Angelilli—a banker then in his late 20s—had joined Chrysler Financial Corp. shortly after CFO Miller had arranged for loans from hundreds of banks under a government-insured loan program that would permit Chrysler to avoid bankruptcy—a feat that helped Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca to later achieve icon status.
“At the time, Miller wanted to populate the finance team with bankers and people who knew credit risk and understood what could go wrong in the type of cyclical business that Chrysler was in,” explains Angelilli, who credits Miller with having had a survival instinct that enabled Chrysler to navigate the ups and downs of America’s auto manufacturing sector in the 1980s.
Recalls Angelilli: “When Chrysler began to have trouble again, Miller became that pivotal person who had a strategy. It had everything to do with managing the balance sheet, generating liquidity, and picking winners and losers.”
In short, Angelilli describes Miller as “probably the best CFO in the United States” at that time.
“I was a junior guy, working in M&A and asset-backed securities, but he showed us what was possible for the CFO role,” comments Angelilli, who notes that Miller was “totally plugged in to strategy and connected to the CEO.”
Still, Angelilli says, Miller’s calm demeanor was what perhaps made him an exceptional CFO.
“We’d be going through this epic change as a company and everyone would be nervous, and here was this incredibly calm person with a steady hand,” remarks Angelilli, who further compliments Miller as being “friendly and warm.”
Says Angelilli: “If business were a democracy and you could vote for your CFO, Miller would have gotten 100 percent of the vote.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about MoneyGram … what sets it apart from other offerings?
Angelilli: MoneyGram is for everybody. It’s not just for this or that demographic or market in this country—and this changes everything. When the digital transformation started not only at MoneyGram but also, I believe, at FinTechs in general, it was actually more expensive to do business. Our cost structure was actual higher with digital transformation, which was certainly problematic. If people are giving it away for free and it costs you more, this is not a good business model. The plan that we have been following—and this is the miracle, I think, of digital technology—is to make sure that every new iteration results in not only a better user experience but also a lower cost structure. And this is exactly what we have been doing.Read More
I don’t think that we quite live in a cashless society today, but I do think that there will come a day. We’ve already moved past that tipping point where people don’t live in cash like they used to. Ninety percent of our business to India, for example, goes directly to some account that doesn’t involve cash. Three years ago, it was the opposite—10 percent—if this gives you any indication of where the world is going.
The other thing is banking in general, and I know this from when I was a banker. Bankers like people with money. That’s what they do. Well, 90 percent of the population of the world doesn’t have a lot of money. So, this market is massive. You’re not disintermediating banks. What you’re doing is serving markets that actually have never been accessible. There’s a certain “the sky’s the limit” aspect to all of this. You have to be global and you have to be able to cross borders, which is very difficult to do with money. This is where there’s such a huge opportunity that the FinTechs see. You’re not bound by a footprint, which banks usually are. You can be a provider to the world, and that’s a massive market. There’s room for a lot of people. This is what we’ve embraced and really where this company is headed.
“Don’t feel that you need to know more about everything than the people who report to you. You will need strong people who know more than you all the time.” –Larry Angelilli, CFO, MoneyGram
MoneyGram | www.moneygram.com | Dallas, TX