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5 minutes with Salmat's CFO Chad Barton

He talks PCI compliance, key investments, and the role of IT in his rapidly expanding organisation

What does Salmat do?

We specialise in one-on-one communication. We distribute the most catalogues to the letterbox across the country, about five billion a year. We are the largest outsourced call centre provider in Australia and we also are the largest central-mailer in Australia.

When you’re getting your credit card bill, you’re probably getting it from Salmat. We have about 50-60 per cent of the commercial mail volume that goes through Australia.

What does an average day look like for you?

For the CFO, obviously the key things are the operational performance tracking, key investments that we’re making, what the investments are and the returns we expect. We talk to banks and our investors regularly and with market analysts about what’s going on in the company and our direction.

Another key thing is looking purely at the overall group strategy, its direction, and whether we need to make any adjustments to that strategy, considering acquisitions that can add to our capabilities.

How have you been dealing with PCI compliance?

PCI compliance is on our list of things to do. Considering we deal with a number of banks, PCI compliance is very important.

What are the top issues you’re dealing with in your role?

One of the big issues I’ve been looking at this year is the growth of the business. We have had a couple of years [where we’ve acquired businesses].

We did a $380 million acquisition a couple of years ago and we have been really focused on consolidation in the last couple of years. We have a strong balance sheet, a strong cash flow and our focus is on preparing for growth in the future.

You look at whether the business structured the right way for growth — have we the right assets to be looking out for growth — which comes down to not only internal investment but also whether we do acquisitions.

And then, at the core of everything we do, is our people. Having people in the right roles and making sure we’re a people business is a critical theme for any senior leader.

There’s been discussion lately around CIOs reporting to CFOs as a trend that's on the rise. Is this the case at Salmat?

Our CIO [David Hackshall] reports to the CEO, Grant Harrod. Technology is really the core of what Salmat does.

When we think about acquisitions, we think about them as having technology at the core of what they’re doing, so us having a CIO reporting into the CEO shows the focus we have as a group. We spend tens of millions of dollars a year on IT across the group, and it’s a clear focus of our growth strategy and therefore reports into the CEO role. That’s, to be honest with you, where I think the CIO should report.

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