ADVERTISING'S MONEY MEN: Although the world sees Dooner, Wren, Sorrell and Levy as the faces of global advertising, their shadowy money men wield power too

Wanted: chief financial officer for global communications group.

Must always shun the limelight and never court popularity. Should not be

afraid of telling the chief executive what he may not want to hear but

must never make him look a prat in public. An interest in advertising

desirable but not essential.

If one of the major agency holding companies put an ad for a finance

chief in the sitvac columns (which it never would) and opted for a

brutally frank job spec (highly unlikely), the result might appear

something like the above.

A diplomat, keeper of the corporate conscience, financial visionary and

feet-on-the-ground pragmatist, today's multi-disciplined chief financial

officer has been described as the consigliere to the chief operating

officer's Godfather.

He must be trusted and respected - even if he isn't much liked - and not

shy away from speaking his mind. As Peter Mead, Omnicom's deputy

chairman, puts it: "Your financial director must never be afraid of


The passage of the person holding the purse strings from agency

bit-player who chastised executives for not submitting their expenses on

time to a place alongside the chief executive officer mirrors an

industry grown increasingly mature and sophisticated over the past two

decades. Today, independent shops are as concerned about the bottom line

as advertising and marketing leviathans.

Sir Martin Sorrell, the group chief executive of WPP, remembers the

earliest agency finance people as little more than book-keepers, often

unqualified, whose duties barely extended beyond looking after the

managing director's petty cash. Now group chief executive officers and

their finance experts must think as one.

Michael Bungey, Cordiant's chief executive, describes his chief

financial officer, Art D'Angelo, as "my right arm" whose advice is

crucial when deciding whether a takeover target is pursued or


Maurice Levy, Bungey's counterpart at Publicis, goes so far as to claim

that a good financial director can improve a company's results by

between 10 and 15 per cent. And he talks of an almost telepathic

understanding between himself and his long-serving financial chief,

Jean-Paul Morin.

"We know each other's thoughts so well that on many occasions I don't

have to consult him," Morin says. "I know what his answer will be."

The emergence of the publicly quoted communications supergroups with

their huge turnovers and stringent demands on them by Wall Street and

the City have transformed the status of the finance director who now

needs a range of skills going far beyond just a head for figures.

The defining period for that changed status began when agencies started

going public in the 80s. Book-keepers were replaced by ambitious young

executives whose work for major consultancies exposed them to

advertising's burgeoning and sexy world. Sorrell, who joined Saatchi &

Saatchi as the finance director in 1976, was typical of this new


Agency senior executives spotted the best talent and often returned to

claim it for themselves. "Once you got big and corporate enough, you

went back to hire the smart junior partner who worked on your audit,"

Mead recalls.

Recently, US groups have increasingly been recruiting their finance

people from business schools and even from merchant banks. But it is a

trend some fear will upset the balance that financial directors need to

strike between strategic planning and financial control.

"Chief financial officers with banking backgrounds are always thinking

about how to make deals happen but lose interest in nitty-gritty

issues," Levy claims.

A good chief financial officer certainly has a difficult tightrope to

walk. Not only must he carry the corporate message to the investment

community but know where to spend his company's money - and when to get

it out if the plan isn't working. "That's not always easy when the

executive creative director tells the chairman he's on his way unless he

gets another £100,000 a year," the former Publicis UK group

finance chief, Chris Whitworth, now at WWAV Rapp Collins, says.

"He will inevitably be involved in a lot of decisions that won't be

popular," Bungey warns. Yet, as Sorrell points out, an understanding of

the numbers has to be balanced by a sensitivity for the business. Bob

Willott, a financial consultant and editor of the industry newsletter

Marketing Services Financial Intelligence, claims this can mean having

to sustain the chairman's self-esteem.

Chief financial officers will always be backroom rather than

front-of-house figures. Chief executives who don't want the burden of

financial responsibilities when they are building their business and

working with senior clients want it that way, as, indeed, do the


Levy goes so far as to suggest that chief financial officers must be

almost monastic in their resolve not to be seduced by the "fun" of the

agency and keep their eyes fixed purely on the numbers. His financial

alter ego concurs. "I love advertising," Morin says. "But I never look

at any until I get home."


Title: Executive vice-president and chief financial officer

Age: 45

Career highs: The $2.1 billion takeover of True North.

The 26 months since Interpublic drafted him in from Pepsico to take

charge of financial affairs have not been entirely smooth for Sean Orr.

Much of the turbulence stems from the questions raised by financial

commentators over events leading up to this year's takeover of True

North, catapulting it above WPP to become the world's largest

communications organisation.

The controversy revolves around Interpublic's massive $160

million pre-tax write-down of its investments in internet-related


Had this been reflected in IPG's figures for 2000, the group's post-tax

profit for that year would have been nearer $260 million than the

$359 million actually reported and may have had a material impact

on the proposed terms for the True North bid, experts claim.

Should the deterioration in the internet investment have been treated as

a permanent impairment in value requiring a write-down against profits

or was it a temporary hiccup?

Orr, a summa cum laude maths graduate and former KPMG Peat Marwick

partner, argues that this was a "non-cash accounting adjustment". Bob

Willott, the editor of the industry Marketing Services Financial

Intelligence newsletter , isn't convinced: "Lost cash is lost cash."

Certainly it's a debate IPG could have done without. The recent

intervention of IPG's chief, John Dooner, to quash sell-off speculation

after Orr's public prediction that Interpublic would begin "pruning" its

portfolio, suggests the new relationship has yet to bed down.


Title: Group finance director

Age: 42

Career highs: Overseeing the $4.4 billion purchase of Young &


There must be times when Paul Richardson feels doomed to be cast

perpetually in the role of the sorcerer's apprentice. When it comes to

financial alchemy, few can match Sir Martin Sorrell, the WPP group chief

executive. And, while Richardson is respected across the group for his

dedication and professionalism, it's clear who wears the magician's


Richardson came to Sorrell's attention at Hanson where, as the assistant

treasurer, he was part of a head office team that accessed the

international debt and capital markets to provide funding for many of

the acquisitions taking place 15 years ago.

It's a measure of Richardson's talent - as well as the depth of the

doldrums into which WPP had sunk in the early 90s - that Sorrell twice

tried to prise him out of Hanson, succeeding at the second attempt in

1993 and appointing him the director of treasury. "Given our situation

at the time, treasury skills were very important," Sorrell


As the finance director for the past five years, the personable

Richardson has built a reputation for running a corporate headquarters

that is lean, structured and focused. "Paul is very good at driving

WPP's financial machine according to the directions on Sorrell's map,"

one colleague says.


Title: Executive vice-president and chief financial officer

Age: 42

Career highs: Orchestrating the sale of Maybelline to L'Oreal, buying

out Abbott Mead Vickers for BBDO.

During the five years he has had control of Omnicom's finances, Randall

J Weisenburger has built a reputation for being well ordered and


"I've never seen Randy's home," Peter Mead, Omnicom's deputy chairman,

remarks. "But I bet it's very tidy."

A key figure in the negotiations culminating in Omnicom's BBDO

subsidiary assuming full control of Britain's Abbott Mead Vickers - "He

was tough but fair," Mead recalls - Weisenburger is at the heart of the

younger management team running Omnicom since the late 90s.

The old guard, as personified by Bruce Crawford, the former Omnicom

chief executive officer, and Fred Meyer, its legendary ex-chief

financial officer, have given way to John Wren and Weisenburger.

The changes not only signalled a new phase in Omnicom's growth strategy

but, in Weisenburger's case, a break from the past with the arrival of a

chief financial officer out of merchant banking rather than


His brief: to maintain Wall Street's respect for Omnicom's management

and help sustain its stock price and a climate enabling acquisitions to

take place.

"Not only does he have a broad range of experience but a mind like a

steel trap," Mead comments. "Yet he can also be engaging and


Weisenburger developed his financial acument at the University of

Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, where he graduated top of his

MBA class, and honed them at Coopers & Lybrand and The First Boston


But it was as a buyout specialist that he made his name, having spent

more than ten years identifying and carrying out acquisitions for the

New York investment bank Wasserstein Perella.


Title: Chief financial officer

Age: 56

Career highs: The $1.9 billion takeover of Saatchi & Saatchi.

Jean-Paul Morin is known as Dr No. "I'm the most unpopular person in the

Publicis organisation," he says in a proud proclamation of his


Even his boss, Maurice Levy, is forced to conceed that Morin is "a very

difficult person, very inquisitive and very tough". And he is only part

jesting when he adds: "When we're in acquisition negotiations I play the

good cop and Jean-Paul plays the bad cop. The difference between us is

that Jean-Paul isn't acting!"

Much of this stems from a fierce loyalty to Levy stretching back three

decades in his role as the financial guardian of the Bleustein-Blanchet

family, the Publicis group's majority owner. Levy has often relied on

Morin to help drive through a tough negotiation. During last year's

aborted takeover of Young & Rubicam it was the pair of them alone who

confronted the massed ranks of Y&R's top management.

All this has clearly taken its toll on Morin, 56, who, according to

insiders, has been hampered by the group's almost total lack of

integrated financial systems. "He always gives the impression of being

hopelessly overworked," an executive who has sat across the negotiating

table from him remarks.

Morin talks about retirement - "I spend all my time on planes" - and has

begun divesting some of his responsibilities in preparation for it.

Nevertheless, he remains in charge of all financial aspects of the

group's major acquisition negotiations, a job he admits remains

powerfully addictive.


Title: Senior managing director

Age: 62

Career highs: Orchestrating the formation of Bcom3 with the Burnett

Group and MacManus Group.

The personal style of Hitoshi Hanatsuka belies his status as the Dentsu

organisation's biggest financial hotshot. Softly spoken and seemingly

unthreatening, he is an attentive listener who enjoys a joke. He spends

an hour before work walking his labrador retrievers and devotes much of

his spare time to helping the Japan Guide Dogs Association.

On financial matters he is the man Yutaka Narita, Dentsu's president,

will always defer to and some think he could be Narita's heir


The pair are said to consult two or three times a day. Indeed, Dentsu

insiders say Hanatsuka's financial power is absolute so that not even a

modest investment of $1 million can be made without his


Hanatsuka cites patience, caution and rigour when weighing up a

decision, and courage to make it at the right time, as the essential

pre-requisites for a good chief financial officer. They are qualities

which have served him well. He was a key figure in the development of

Dentsu's partnership with Young & Rubicam, has helped orchestrate the

group's IPO (planned for this autumn, despite Japan's economic slump)

and was one of the architects of Bcom3.

"The biggest mistake you can make is to take advantage of his

unthreatening manner and presume on his friendship. He won't allow it,"

an associate says.

He joined Dentsu in April 1966.


Title: Chief financial officer

Age: 49

Career highs: The $2.1 billion acquisition of Snyder, the owner

of Arnold Communications and Brann Worldwide.

Jacques Herail sounds almost too good to be true. He's the finance

director everybody likes. It's not so much that Herail is in perpetual

good humour - as the group has grown, his crushing workload has been

known to fray his temper. But those who know him say this is

counterbalanced by his easy accessibility, warm personality and his

ability to simplify complex financial matters so well that even

advertising innocents can understand.

What's more, he doesn't share a moneyman's inbuilt mistrust of creative

people. "Not only does he love advertising but he likes and understands

the people who work in it," an associate says.

Herail began his professional relationship with Alain de Pouzilhac, the

Havas chairman, when he quit his job as an audit manager at Arthur

Andersen to join HDM in 1984.