Gerry Zack’s Financial Skills

By Roy Snell

SCCE & HCCA’s incoming CEO Gerry Zack’s financial skills are so good, he has made me feel inferior. However, I feel inferior in a good way, because I am more concerned about where we are going than where we have been. Is finance possibly our biggest risk area? Certainly, it is one of them. Due to my skill set, I have primarily relied on others to get things right in this risk area. We have a great team that I have relied on, and we have done pretty well. However, there is so much more than just getting the financials correct, such as improved financial decision-making.

Great ideas come from financials. Gerry is going to see the financials with more clarity. Business opportunities and problems often show up in financials long before they show up in other ways. I have seen good people take a couple numbers out of a financial statement and make a proclamation. That would be like a doctor looking at one of 12 lab tests and making a medical decision. As I think Aristotle once said, ”There are lies, damn lies, and spinning financials.”

Gerry reminds me of the doctors I have worked with at the Mayo Clinic. When it comes to their sub-specialty, there is no spinning. There is the best-known truth and then decision making. Some people seem to think it works the other way. They make a decision and then they go get some data to support their decision. Maybe it’s because of his respect for his CPA, Internal Audit credential, or some other experience, but he just can’t disrespect the truth or spin when it comes to financials. Watching him assess financials is a very matter-of-fact experience.

Gerry is also unafraid to tell the truth and does so without making people feel like he is being negative towards them. If he sees an imbalanced presentation of financial data, he will respectfully make sure everyone is getting the whole picture. As a result, our financial decisions will be made with much greater clarity. This is good for our organization.