The 2022 ING-FINEX CFO of the Year award ceremony at Palacio de Memoria in Parañaque City on Nov. 24 was one for the history books. Cebu Landmasters, Inc.’s Chief Finance Officer Grant Cheng, 41, was named the youngest awardee of the most prestigious recognition for the country’s top finance leaders. With Mr. Cheng (center) during the trophy presentation were (from left) Augusto Bengzon, liaison director, ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award Committee; Michael Arcatomy Guarin, president, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines; Chiqui Escareal-Go, chairperson, 16th ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award Board of Judges; Hans Sicat, managing director-country manager, ING Bank N.V., Manila Branch; Renan Piamonte, vice-chairman, ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award Committee; and Enrique Victor Pampolina, overall chairman, ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award Committee.

The Philippines has never been short of remarkable talent, particularly in the field of business. There has always been world-class luminaries and leaders shaping the country’s economic landscape, making the decisions and setting the trends for various industries.

In 2006, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the premier professional organization for finance executives and decision makers in Philippine business, started the tradition of recognizing the country’s top financial stewards through the annual search. The ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award is the Philippines’ longest-running and only search that honors outstanding chief financial officers.

The award was launched through a permanent partnership between FINEX and ING Bank, N.V., one of the world’s largest banks. In establishing the prestigious award, the partnership between the two major institutions aims to herald a legacy for future generations of Philippine financial leaders.

Whereas the most recent editions of the Philippines’ longest-running search for outstanding CFOs honored remarkable women in the field, this year’s iteration accords the distinction to its youngest awardee to date.

Beauregard Grant L. Cheng, CFO of listed Visayas-Mindanao property developer Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI), is this year’s recipient of the ING-FINEX CFO of the Year award.

Mr. Cheng, 41 years old, becomes the youngest recipient of the prestigious recognition and also the first awardee from a non-conglomerate organization.

The magna cum laude and ‘Star Scholar’ graduate from De La Salle University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing Engineering and Management, Mr. Cheng furthered his studies abroad and graduated from the Singapore Management University and Swiss Finance Institute (Zurich) with a degree in Master’s of Science in Wealth Management.

The chief officer joined CLI in 2019 and is credited by the company for taking the property developer to new heights by establishing the company’s funding framework, driving massive growth with record cash flow and revenue.

He is also recognized by CLI for helping the company remain profitable through the implementation of cost and budget monitoring processes, along with the establishment of approval limits and authority policies; as well as for ushering digital transformation through implementing virtual launches for projects, digital tours, and the development of an online collections portal.

More recently, last June, the Philippine Rating Services Corp. (PhilRatings) assigned an Issue Credit Rating of PRS Aa plus with a stable outlook for CLI’s maiden peso-denominated fixed-rate bond issuance of P5 billion. PhilRatings also upgraded the issue credit rating for CLI’s outstanding series A to C corporate notes worth P5 billion to PRS Aa plus with a stable outlook.

Furthermore, in the 10th annual PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards in October, CLI was honored as the Best Developer in Visayas and Best Developer in Mindanao. The group also took home special recognitions for promoting the principles of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), and Sustainable Design & Construction.

As BusinessWorld reported last Nov., CLI recorded a 21.3% rise in third-quarter attributable net income to P649.88 million from P535.96 million a year ago. The company’s top line rose by 39% to P3.51 billion from P2.52 billion last year. Sales of real estate were the largest contributor at P3.45 billion, up by 39% from P2.48 billion a year ago.

“We are on full blast with our construction capacity and with God’s grace we can continue to deliver and continue to operate at full capacity,” Mr. Cheng was quoted as saying.

While he received the CFO of the Year award as an individual, Mr. Cheng recognizes the honor as an organizational award.

“I’m very humbled and very honored, but this is for the company and for everyone who has allowed me to be their leader, to set the strategy and the vision for how the financial aspects of a company should be run and managed,” Mr. Cheng previously said in a statement.

Past CFO of the Year awardees are as follows: Delfin C. Gonzalez, Jr. (2007) of Globe Telecom, Inc.; Sherisa P. Nuesa (2008) of Manila Water Co., Inc., who currently serves as an independent director of Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI); Jose T. Sio (2009), then executive vice-president (EVP) and CFO, and now chairman of SM Investments Corp.; Ysmael L. Baysa (2010) of Jollibee Foods Corp.; Jaime E. Ysmael (2011), formerly of Ayala Land, Inc., and now the president and CEO of QualiMed; Jeffrey C. Lim (2012), current president of SM Prime Holdings, Inc.; Felipe S. Yalong (2013), EVP and CFO of GMA Network, Inc.; Jose Jerome R. Pascual III (2014), former CFO, vice-president for finance and treasurer, and chief risk officer of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.; Luis Juan Oreta (2015), CFO and treasurer of Manila Water Co., Inc.; Danny Y. Yu (2016), CFO and corporate governance officer of SM Investments Corp.; Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco (2017), then CFO and Sustainability Officer of Ayala Corp., and now CEO of Bank of the Philippine Islands; Ferdinand K. Constantino (2018) of San Miguel Corp.; Augusto D. Bengzon (2019), CFO, treasurer, and chief compliance officer of ALI; Mylene A. Kasiban (2020) of Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc.; and Annabelle Lim-Chua (2021) of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran