“When I started my audit career, I never thought I would work in banking,” says Chase Anderson, chief accounting officer for Origin Bank. Initially, he didn’t even plan to go into finance. In college in Arkansas, he was going to become an engineer, but conversations with friends and family led him to switch over to accounting. From there, a fellow alumnus recruited him for the Dallas office of accounting firm Grant Thornton, where he spent seven years in tax and auditing work.
In 2013 he was hired as CAO at the century-old bank Origin (back when it still had its original name of Community Trust Bank), and over the last six years Anderson has found himself at the forefront of many of the bank’s most important initiatives.
Not long after taking the role, Anderson was faced with one of his biggest accounting challenges to date—readying the bank’s accounting function for a public option. It was a complex process that took years: despite planning for a 2014 IPO, the company didn’t go public until early 2018. In the intervening years, Anderson and his team meticulously reworked and restructured Origin’s accounting processes to make the organization viable for public investment.
“One thing that drives me crazy is when we pay for 100 percent of a platform but only use maybe 30 percent of its functionality.”
Their first challenge was to fix Origin’s processes to allow them to reliably close their books in a timely manner. Anderson wanted to trust that “once the books were closed, they were closed.” From there, he helped build out the company’s financial reporting function. “We had internal reporting, but we didn’t have anybody on the team that understood external reporting beyond my experience as an auditor,” he says.
Once these processes were streamlined, the next several years were spent creating mock earnings releases to fine-tune the consistency of Origin’s accounting and reporting work. Eventually, once the SEC reporting timeline functions grew to a level of consistency that Anderson and the executives were happy with, Origin went public in 2018.
This laser focus on the value of the accounting function is one of Anderson’s most valuable traits as CAO. “The biggest thing I’ve latched onto, and done the most with, is seeing the inefficiencies in operational accounting and identifying solutions,” he notes.
Process efficiency is everything, according to Anderson: one of his first big changes was to address redundancies in reporting in Origin’s accounts payable function. Rather than manually entering expense reports in Excel, which led to double entries by accounts payable and the person submitting the report, Anderson instituted a new expense management system (Concur) that allows the company’s accounting team to save an incredible amount of time and effort.
It’s this focus on technology that really motivates Anderson as an accounting professional—and his work at Origin reflects those interests. Among his main initiatives is the development of the firm’s technology committee, made up of representatives across several different departments who coordinate Origin’s technology strategy.
“People will defend the ideas they brought to the table, even if it was ten years ago.”
The committee was born of a meeting between Anderson and three other executives (including the president and CEO) about the lack of a consolidated technology strategy when vetting software solutions and executing contracts. “We need to get our arms around the technology systems and infrastructure that we have in place,” Anderson explains.
The six-person team includes Anderson, the president/CEO, the chief information officer, chief digital and strategy officer, and chief operations officer, along with the strategic partner director from Origin’s project management office. Together, their primary focus is to review their existing technology infrastructure, diagram it out, and identify areas where a platform or piece of technology is not being utilized to its full value.
“One thing that drives me crazy is when we pay for 100 percent of a platform but only use maybe 30 percent of its functionality,” Anderson says. This is one of the technology committee’s major points of focus: creating a centralized strategy to make the most efficient use of the technology that they employ.
Anderson’s focus on technology may be a holdover from his engineering days, but he also recognizes its importance in the realm of finance. “At times, the finance and accounting function hasn’t historically been great partnering with the operational aspect [of an organization],” Anderson notes.
His goal, both in the tech committee and elsewhere, is to increase tech literacy across Origin and shake up old habits to bolster efficiency. “People will defend the ideas they brought to the table, even if it was ten years ago,” Anderson explains. “What I’m trying to get to [in my role] is, let’s all come together and figure out collectively what makes the most sense for the organization.”
Now that Origin Bank is a publicly traded company, and the firm’s technology committee is in full swing, Anderson hopes that this allows the company to become more streamlined and efficient than ever before. As his efforts have shown, technology seems to be the way to do it.
SAP Concur congratulates Chase Anderson—a leader, visionary, trusted partner! We’re proud to reside within Origin Bank’s ecosystem, helping them scale with cloud & mobile technology, acting as the “engine” that connects how they spend with the people, policies, and systems that define their organization. Visit concur.com to learn more.