Christopher Kelaher, CEO and Managing Director of IOOF Holdings, has been with the group since 2009 when IOOF acquired the business that he had been managing director of for approximately 10 years. He spent the previous 13 years working for Citicorp. Throughout his time with IOOF, he's seen the organisation expand and diversify, mainly through mergers and acquisitions. He spoke with The CEO Magazine to look at the challenges he's faced, particularly with the growing portfolio of businesses under the IOOF banner, and his ambitions for the future of the organisation.
IOOF has undergone various mergers and acquisitions, which has challenged the alignment and cohesion of the organisation. When you're involved in a business with multiple brands and have people located Australia-wide, the challenge is to keep them all cohesive and together. I think one of the most important things to do is to keep them all motivated. When you're bringing all of these people together, they need to believe in the collective story.
I think the security of buying a business that is largely dominated by people is that your biggest assets are coming up and down in the lifts every day. But when you buy a business with no assets and a substantial cashflow, you are then obliged to take a different approach to that asset. The biggest challenge is that you buy a business that is made of people, and the first thing that theyre inclined to do is head for the exit. So you've bought something, but the assets dissipate very rapidly. The challenge is to keep them all together or keep the business together if they go.