Kevin Ball is not your typical "local boy makes good". The Kempsey born and South West Rocks bred 61-year-old has just reached the pinnacle of Australian financial leadership. As of Monday, November 27, he is officially the best-performing Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in Australia. Kevin, however, would rather talk about running beef cattle at Willawarrin; supporting his brother Earle in managing the family's Brassils Creek property; hanging out in South West Rocks with his mum Noreen; or hitting the beach with his wife Amy and their sons Jackson and Garrett. It is because of the former Kempsey High School student's success at ASX 100 company Whitehaven Coal that he has earned one of his industry's greatest accolades "Wow, that's exciting," Noreen Ball said of her son's achievement when speaking to the Macleay Argus at her South West Rocks home. "He's always so casual. So then I have to be casual. He doesn't like fuss." The Top 25 list of Australia's financial superstars was released on Monday, November 27. It was calculated by board advisors Yellow Folder for Nine's Australian Financial Review. CFOs are ranked according to the change in their company's market capitalisation over a period of three years. Sitting way out in front in the number one position, Kevin was part of the leadership team that grew Whitehaven's market capitalisation by a whopping 482 per cent - from $2 billion to $6.2 billion. It was the result of a deal to buy the Daunia and Blackwater metallurgical coal mines in central Queensland from the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA). Not just financially smart, it means Whitehaven is moving from thermal coal to metallurgical (clean) coal. The market has viewed the acquisition as transformative. Whitehaven's share price three years ago was less than $1, now it is over $7. Kevin will tell you it's a team effort - with the emphasis on effort. "He always says, 'good luck is where opportunity meets hard work'," his wife, Amy Perille-Ball said. Noreen agrees. "He's worked very hard, he really has. He went into Uni at 18 and came out at 30. "I'm very proud of both my boys. They've done very well. Now I can relax." Kevin (who was named after his father) grew up in South West Rocks with his brother Earle and their late sister, Carron. He went to South West Rocks Primary School and then Kempsey High School, where he was named a prefect. He spent his free time on the beach as a member of the South West Rocks Surf Life Saving Club and worked for free in Kevin Senior's butchery, making sausages. "There is no doubt that my work ethic began at home and in that butcher's shop," he said. His father eventually paid him, but it was less than being a lifeguard so he switched to patrolling the beach. Kevin wanted to study law when he left Kempsey High but he didn't get the marks. So he began a commerce degree at the University of NSW, in Sydney. He has never looked back. He was snapped up as a graduate by what is now known as EY, where he continued to study. It is also where he meant Chicago-born Amy. It is now almost 10 years since Kevin moved to Whitehaven. Despite his success as a CFO, he still has his sights set on spending more time on the land. Like so many landholders in the Macleay Valley, Kevin and Earle were affected by the October bushfires. Kevin was right in the middle of Whitehaven's multi-billion dollar deal when he lost around 400 hectares of his Willawarrin property. Fortunately, his Angus cattle were spared. Meantime, Earle and the local community faced down the fire threat at Brassils Creek where both the land and their Droughtmaster and Angus cross cattle were also spared. Kevin, Earle and Noreen now join the rest of the shire in facing a hike in their annual property rates as a result of Kempsey Shire Council's $79m forecast debt. So, what advice does the country's leading financial whiz have for council? "From my perspective, they cannot seem to align their revenue base with their cost base," Kevin said. "They have a shrinking asset base versus growing asset value. "In other words, they need to make the pie bigger."