What would you deem to be the key skills needed for an FD looking to scale a company with similar success
Good communication and influencing skills are a must. The FD should be able to effectively explain to non-finance people the risks and issues associated with rapid growth.
The FD also needs to be forward thinking, have a strong grasp of the financial planning process and the ability to identify the key growth drivers. Theres also a need to be comfortable with the detail of financial models to ensure they deliver outcomes that accurately drive business decisions. Its also important for the FD to have a curious mind-set and the ability to build trusting relationships with the CEO and fellow management.
Whats it like being an FD in the fast-paced world of technology
Its great fun. Tech startups like TotallyMoney.com are now attracting the brightest talent who are excited to be involved in developing new products and challenging the status quo. Working with smart people every day helps ensure Im always learning.
Data-lead decision-making is always at the heart of a tech business. From an FDs perspective, knowing our tech and marketing teams are using data rather than opinions to assess performance and inform actions on a day-to-day basis helps me to mitigate the risk of over-investing resource in products or online campaigns which are unlikely to deliver a return.
Do you think the role of FD has changed in recent years, and how so
Ive read some articles about how the role of the FD has become broader with responsibilities extending to HR and legal. My view is the FD role, at least when working in private equity-backed businesses, has always been broad. Whilst I still have friends who are surprised that I get involved in HR matters, I do think the perceptions of the FD role are catching up with reality.
How do you ensure a company is fully compliant in its day to day operations
Compliance begins with the Management team. Its our responsibility to set a culture which encourages staff to understand the importance of compliance and how to manage the balance of working in an agile way whilst having appropriate controls in place.
At a day to day level, we have a specialist head of compliance who works full time alongside our tech and marketing teams. Our head of compliance personally trains all our new joiners and provides regular re-fresher sessions. We use Podios workflow solution to manage and document compliance approval of all our new product releases and marketing campaigns.
Elsewhere, with its innovative business model, Cogress enables its community of qualified users to invest in 10m+ properties with as little as 20,000 so we talked with CFO Paul Israel to gain a better understanding of the real estate sector and his role within the company.