As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q2 2017 Issue
-Interview by Andrew Zezas-
William Craig, CEO and CFO, Tarantin Industries, is a financial executive who has been on both sides of the street, as a lender and an investor, with companies such as GE Capital and Fifth Street Finance. He also has considerable experience in operations in diverse manufacturing and distribution firms, in the medical device, consumer products, industrial gases, and other industries.
(ANDREW ZEZAS) You have a pretty interesting background.
CRAIG: Yes, I had a funny start in the finance business. I started as a field representative for what is now known as the Motors Acceptance Corporation. Field representative is a euphemism for a repo man. This was in central Texas where the law was that you could shoot the repo man after sundown.
As an adjunct professor at the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University, what are your thoughts on the state of accounting and finance education?
CRAIG: What frustrates me is this: In the good old days you could be just a CPA and understand the rules because your accounting system was sort of batch processing. Now it’s all ERP. So you have to understand the business dynamics of how this information is flowing through the whole system.
Is the educational system teaching that?
CRAIG: I think not. I think what accountants have started to do in order to get people to pass the exam is they compartmentalize and they sort of create a lot of rules. So if you want to pass the exam today, you really have to understand your FAS statements, which is useful, but there are a lot of people out there that don’t necessarily need to understand the nuances of lease accounting to be able to tell somebody are we making money on this or not. Everybody in the organization should understand are we making money here and if not, why not, or how? [But in the classroom, finance is] too rules based.
Talk to me about the SEC in that vein: rules and the SEC and insider trading.
CRAIG: I have a somewhat off-the-wall thought on the insider trading stuff. When [the SEC was] started in the 1930s… it was a noble premise that we want to have information and be sure it’s fairly and properly disseminated to the public. Well, it’s 80 years later and we now have Twitter, we have LinkedIn, we have Facebook….
Everybody has a video camera in their pocket.
CRAIG: So, now we have information everywhere. I would almost push that in the other direction, which is to say…get less concerned about trying to keep a lid on the information and let it flow. Let it flow and then evaluate the companies on the basis of how well they disseminate their information. So, you and I can have the same business and investors might think I am…not only better at [disseminating information] but also I am clearer. My stock would trade at a premium to yours because they don’t trust your numbers. The SEC can promulgate a “restaurant model,” and become like the public health office: They rate you an A or I’m a B, or you’re a B and I’m an A, and the investor can see that. And then you have the Yelp or the Zagat view, which is the public information that’s saying “Zezas does a really good job of communicating the information,” or “There is no information.” So, it changes the whole dynamic of it.
The world is all about communication. You know, I like the idea. But we are out of time. You have shared some great ideas with us.