Meet Deon Viljoen (Alexander Forbes), CFO of the Year 2015

One of the first things Deon Viljoen told the panel of judges during his interview for this year's CFO Awards is that he had "aged in dog years" in the past 7 years as Chief Financial Officer at Alexander Forbes, the country's largest retirement fund administrator. In that period he guided the company during a delisting and a relisting at the JSE Limited, he overhauled the entire structure of the business and sold one of its biggest businesses to an international buyer. "I enjoy those multidimensional challenges," assured the judges during the interview. He feels the brand and its reputation came out of the turbulent period unscathed. “Our clients trust us and I feel that I contribute to that.”

In the picture: Alexander Forbes CEO Edward Kieswetter (left) with 'his' CFO of the Year Deon Viljoen

On Thursday 14 May 2015 Viljoen was announced as the CFO of the Year 2015, beating 31 other short-listed CFOs during a voting process by the eminent panel of judges, who evidently felt those 'dog years' had been spent well.

A visibly surprised Viljoen thanked his team, his CEO Edward Kieswetter and his wife and children for their support during the trying times as Finance boss at Alexander Forbes. "In life, there are two types of challenges: those you voluntarily take on and those you inherit. Both are inspiring, but come from different parts of your being," Viljoen said. The delisting and sale of Alexander Forbes to a private equity consortium was definitely a challenge the CFO inherited when he joined, but last year's relisting - after investigating many different options to get the best result for the sellers, new owners/shareholders and the company - was a challenge Viljoen and Kieswetter voluntarily took. "You pick up wisdom from those who work for you and those who work with you," Viljoen said, when accepting his award.

Not surprisingly, Viljoen says that finding "a sustainable solution that accommodates all stakeholders" is the most important ingredient of his recipe for success.

Viljoen has been working for the Alexander Forbes Group since 2003, first as Finance Director of Investment Solutions and since 2007 as CFO for the group. He is an executive director on the group's board and also sits on the boards of several subsidiaries. Before joining financial services firm, Viljoen was a Partner and Director at PwC Johannesburg, focussing on assurance and business advisory services. During his time in the profession, he specialised in banking and other financial services clients both in PwC's Johannesburg and London offices.

Not shying away from broader roles, Viljoen also served on industry bodies such as the SAICA Banking Industry Group. For years he also chaired the Investment Management and the Collective Investment Schemes Industry Groups. As part of his specialisation in the financial services industry, he often advised clients and presented on specialist topics such as financial risk management. Viljoen studied at the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and qualified as a CA in 1987.

  • CFO of the Year Deon Viljoen is one of the winners at the CFO Awards 2015. Next year's CFO Awards will take place on 12 May 2016, once again at the Summer Place in Johannesburg. If you would like to buy a table, join the panel of judges or become a partner you can email Jurrien Morsch. Attendance is free for members. Visit CFOawards.co.za
  • Stay connected, up to date and in the loop on what is happening in the world of finance and keep track of newly published expert insights and interviews with CFOs and CEOs. Become an online member and receive our newsletter, follow us on Twitter and join us on LinkedIn.