Things were going downhill for David Quinn when he met his future wife—or such might be the familiar punchline to follow Quinn’s disclosure that he met his wife on a ski vacation. Still, Quinn lets us know that the timing of his match being made was in sync with the escalating financial crisis of the late 2000s—a grim environment that quickly fogged over the career trajectories of many banking executives.
Quinn, who was then head of FP&A for Citigroup’s UK retail banking operations, found that the timing of the growing crisis was to exact a stiff price. Along with five other “handpicked” Citigroup executives, he had recently completed an executive MBA program specially designed by Citigroup to springboard the bank’s next generation of European leaders into upper management roles. However, regardless of the degree status of its targets, Citigroup’s leadership development effort suddenly lost its spring.Read More
“For me, the promised leadership role turned out to be CFO of Norway, which was not a big business for Citigroup at the time and at best would have been a sidestep,” comments Quinn, who opted instead to leave Citigroup and subsequently move to the United States with his new American fiancée.
Quinn doesn’t appear to have ever second-guessed his paucity of aspiration to be CFO of Norway. In September of 2009, he accepted a position with Bank of the West, where within only a few months he was appointed head of FP&A.
Despite his impressive employment transition, Quinn still seems mindful of the economic uncertainty that gripped the late 2000s.
In fact, he recalls staring down on San Francisco Bay from Bank of the West’s boardroom one day while the bank’s CFO, sitting across from him, tried to “sell him” on joining the bank.
Says Quinn: “My feeling at the time was that I just needed a job.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Bluevine … what sets this fintech apart, and what are its offerings today?
Quinn: Bluevine, which launched in 2013, effectively saves small business owners time so that they can focus on what’s important, which is running their business. We work to enable a better financial future for about 450,000 small businesses with our simple, innovative solutions around banking, bill management, and credit, three things that are critical for small businesses. We really are targeting SMBs—think companies with 20 or fewer people. These could be a small restaurant, a pizza shop, a flower shop—anyone who has revenues and a few employees and has needs above and beyond basic banking. We have an online checking account. We’re 100% digital. We have the access to credit, so we have lines of credit. We have a bill pay solution that can pay bills, manage bills, and integrate with QuickBooks. We can solve a lot of the headaches that small businesses have.Read More
One of the things that most attracted me about this offering was that no one else was really doing it. If you read the statistics, you know that so many small businesses are underserved by the traditional banks. This is an area that is just not profitable for them at the scales at which they operate. They’re not building for them, they’re not building solutions. Banks tend to build for the larger-revenue clients—think $5 million plus in revenue. The SMBs are largely underserved, and if they do apply for credit, they have about an 80% chance of being rejected. That’s really a small chance for success. We’re passionate about our mission at Bluevine to serve small businesses specifically, given that they’re the backbone of the U.S. economy.
In 18 months’ time, 2 years’ time, if I were to look back, what would I see that I had done? What would “good” look like? I think that this is the type of framework that we try to apply. We’re sort of at a critical point. For us, it’s all about managing through the recession, continuing to scale, focusing on our operational efficiency and path to profitability, and then delivering against our budget, which this year again is going to be dynamic. We need to make sure that we understand where we can flex it and what our options are. jb
“You cannot passively manage your career. Intelligence, hard work, and dedication will get you only so far. To reach your full potential, you need to share your ideas, opinions, and aspirations and set a plan in motion to achieve them. Creating a strong network and seeking a mentor will only accelerate the attainment of your plan.” –David Quinn, CFO, Bluevine
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