Allocating Capital to Maximize Value
In Caruso’s view, any CFO can create top line growth. However, creating top- and bottom-line growth consistently, year after year, takes real skill and muscle memory. CFOs that are good at this have a few key attributes including strategic vision, a principles-based stewardship of finance, objectivity, and credibility. It falls to the CFO to be a data-driven arbiter of business decisions and to ensure that those decisions will ultimately drive business growth. Maintaining credibility is critical— - it’s not just about making the decisions, it’s also about communicating them back to the organization with transparency and candor.
These attributes also serve as a foundation for how Caruso and his team crafted the competency model. If future CFOs are to come from within the finance team, it was important for them to start developing the skills and abilities necessary for the role early on. Once he had reoriented the finance team around the competency model, Caruso set specific deliverables with the goal of allocating capital to maximize shareholder value.
As a publicly traded company, J&J is very focused on the level of cash returned for earnings generated. The result of this focus has meant that shareholders have seen dividends go up each year for the last consecutive 56 years—a track record few companies can claim. J&J achieved this by articulating very specifically what value creation and superior financial performance really mean within J&J. In addition to risk management, financial modeling and forecasting, the finance team is also tasked with keeping track of receivables, inventory billed, and payables in order to ensure that they are making informed decisions about how to achieve sustainable cash flow and superior financial performance. Getting specific has driven results. J&J is one of only two AAA- credit- rated companies in the world at the time of the Summit (as of May 18, 2018). (The other is Microsoft.)
By having a finance team focused on performance, J&J not only creates shareholder value, but also helps to maintain market share. In all, J&J’s 27- billion-dollar brands are consistently in the top one or two slots for their market segments. This standing puts the company in a powerful position when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. Acquiring top companies to add value is in J&J’s DNA. At the same time, the company is just as aggressive about divesting businesses that no longer fit. Altogether, over the past six years, J&J has increased its market capitalization by $175 billion.