Many people see Brookfield Asset Management Inc. as a very complex, puzzling company, but to chief financial officer Brian Lawson it's a "pretty simple business."
Mr. Lawson, who has been named the 2013 CFO of the Year, said the company may be involved in a variety of ventures, but they tend to stable, focused businesses that "have a certain degree of homogeneity" among the asset classes. While it is highly diversified, "it is not a high-churn business," he said in an interview Tuesday.
Brookfield holds assets in renewable power, real estate and infrastructure projects, and it also manages private equity investments. It has more than $180-billion in assets under management.
Mr. Lawson was cited by the selection panel for his instrumental role in guiding Brookfield's impressive growth, generating its diversified funding sources, and navigating the company through a tough economic environment.
He joined Brookfield in 1988 and became CFO in 2002. He said the lengthy service of most of the senior management team is a huge asset. "It makes everything a lot easier. … The ability to work as a team is really facilitated by having a group of people who have been together for a long time. It sets a great tone throughout the organization."
Mr. Lawson said his biggest challenge these days is the increase in the requirements to disseminate financial information. New regulations have forced the company "to evolve how we communicate, so that the message is still clear," he said.
He is very bullish on the global economy, despite the political budgetary issues in the United States, and the continuing problems in Europe. "The capital markets are very functional," he said. "We have very strong access to capital and we expect that to continue."
The CFO of the Year award is presented by Financial Executives International Canada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Robert Half International. It was established in 2003. Mr. Lawson will be honoured at a dinner in Toronto on May 2.