THROUGHOUT its two decades of existence, the Lopez Group Comptrollers’ Circle has seen and weathered it all—the evolving leadership due to retirement and employee movement, the changing fortunes of the Lopez Group businesses and even the ups and downs of the Philippine economy.
Lopez Group chairman Oscar M. Lopez (OML) had initiated the formation of the Comptrollers’ Circle in 1999, making it the first such organization of its kind among Philippine conglomerates.
OML envisioned a team that would provide the Lopez Group with uniform, reliable, accurate and fair financial information that would fast-track the consolidation of financial reports at the Group level and aid in strategic planning.
For its first major project, completed in July 2000, the financial “supergroup” generated a standardized chart of accounts and accounting policies that the Lopez Group companies used as a guide in preparing financial statements.
Following this milestone, they formulated an updated planning and control manual. To this day, chief financial officers, comptrollers, accountants and corporate planning officers in the Lopez Group refer to this manual to prepare their companies’ financial statements, plans and budgets.
The Comptrollers’ Circle provides support for top management’s strategic needs by spearheading annual budget conferences and five-year strategic planning meetings, midyear financial performance reviews, economic and political briefings, and corporate governance updates.
For its members who are responsible for preparing the components of financial reports, the Comptrollers’ Circle equips them by regularly organizing training sessions and seminars.
These seminars tackle developments in accounting standards as well as Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and other government regulations and are conducted by experts from the BIR, SEC and the country’s top auditing firms.
Each training session—there are up to three such seminars per year—is attended by at least 200 participants, resulting in savings of as much as P10,000 per employee per training session compared to sending them individually to an accredited provider. This means annual cost savings of P2 million to P6 million for the Comptrollers’ Circle.
P800K annual savings
Overall, out of its P3 million budget in 2018, the Comptrollers’ Circle spent P2.2 million for its various undertakings, and P2 million out of its P2.7-million budget in 2017. It was thus able to realize savings of about P800,000 annually.
The Comptrollers’ Circle also promotes teamwork, employee satisfaction and camaraderie through its annual general assemblies and fellowships which are usually held during the Christmas season.
According to Noel Rabaja, Tax Accounting & Risk Advisory country leader at SGV & Co., the Comptrollers’ Circle’s milestone is “a testament to the Lopez Group’s commitment to the continuing development of its people.
He also described the general assemblies as “an excellent way of preparing the members of the comptrollers’ group every year for the recent and upcoming changes in accounting, tax and other regulatory matters that relevant to your business.”
“The learnings from the conference complement the dedication and hard work of the members of the comptrollers’ group in contributing to the success of the entire Lopez Group,” Rabaja added.
Ma. Gracia Casals-Diaz of R.G. Manabat & Co., who has been a resource person at Comptrollers’ Circle seminars since 2008, said: “I readily recognized how the interaction would facilitate understanding and compliance with standards and regulations. I witnessed how serious they were during the sessions and how important it was for them to apply the learnings in their respective offices and functions. …The good practice of learning has become a culture.”
The Lopez Group Comptrollers’ Circle Core Team is currently composed of Jingle Hernandez of Lopez Inc., Lanie Caimol of Lopez Holdings Corporation, Jei-Jei Gertes of Third Generation Holdings, Mina Ubaña of First Philippine Holdings Corporation and Aldrin Cerrado of ABS-CBN Corporation.