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Everyday He Writes the Book

CFO at vFinance writes mysteries based on his job; did the auditor do it? Plus: tale of two businesses: New York Life names permanent CFO, Artemis ...
Lisa Yoon and CFO StaffMay 20, 2002

When vFinance Inc. CFO Bob Williamson fiddles with the books, it’s a good thing. That’s because when he’s not working at the investment and brokerage company, he’s writing novels. Williamson already has had one book published. That one,, a murder mystery called “The Seriously Pink V,” hit the shelves last August. Williamson has a sequel coming out later this year.

“Being a CFO is a very by-the-book job; really deadly boring stuff at one level,” says Williamson, who has held CFO positions at three Miami-area companies in the past 17 years. Writing the thrillers, he says, means he can live vicariously through characters like protagonist Tom Hudson, a venture capitalist who “does the things I wish I had done.”

Inspired by author Tracy Kidder’s account of the making of a computer in “The Soul of A New Machine,” Williamson began to chronicle the start-up phase of a technology company he founded in 1985. But in the process, he found himself injecting fictional twists into the story, resulting in his first murder mystery about 10 years ago. Although that book never made it to the presses, the follow up (“The Seriously Pink V”) did.

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His day job as a CFO provides the “grist and fodder” for the writing, Williamson says. He points out that his professional dealings with insurance companies gave him the necessary background for his forthcoming book, which is based on a complex insurance fraud. Ultimately, though, he hopes to be able to write full-time. “Writing is something I can do for a very long time,” he explains. “In fact, I would like to write until I drop dead.”

CFO Insider

>> New York Life Insurance Co. gave acting CFO Michael Sproule the top finance job for good… Sproule’s last position was SVP of mergers and acquisitions, although he’s been acting finance chief since last July… Sproule will oversee M&A, corporate finance, risk management, tax, treasury, and office of the chief actuary….

Sproule a life-insurance lifer. Before joining New York Life in 1999 as SVP of M&A, was executive VP and CFO of AmerUs Group. Also spent 17 years at MetLife in a variety of positions in the individual, group, pensions and property casualty businesses.

>> Project-management software maker Artemis International Solutions Corp. is going back to the drawing board for its next finance chief. The Boulder, Colo.-based company announced Friday it “reopened its search for a new CFO.” Why? Because company’s board is “no longer considering ratifying W. Bruce Steever as the successor to Peter Schwartz to hold the positions of Executive Vice President and CFO.” No further details were provided. Schwartz, who’s been CFO at Artemis since 2000, will stay on until company finds a new CFO — for real.

>> Wilmer Leinbach was appointed executive VP and CFO of Sun Bancorp Inc. and subsidiary SunBank. Leinbach founded financial-services management-consulting firm W.D. Leinbach & Co. Inc. In last assignment there, he consulted on the J.P. Morgan/Chase merger. Before his days as consultant he held stint as director of finance and CFO of Merrill Lynch’s capital markets group…

Leinbach joins Sun in time for “Project Deliver Excellence,” the company’s cost-cutting, revenue-raising initiative… Leinbach takes over the New Jersey-region bank’s finance duties from COO Jonathan Hullick.

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