August is very likely Patrick McClymont’s preferred month when it comes to entering the CFO office.
“September is great, but you may want to show up a little before in order to get your feet wet,” comments McClymont, who last September became CFO of Hagerty, a once–stand-alone insurance agency for classic automobiles that has now morphed into an automotive enthusiast brand that in addition to insurance products also serves up to its car-minded customers a menu of “membership” programs and experiences.
It should perhaps serve as no surprise that McClymont’s timing preference has everything to do with the industry’s annual planning process and the opportunity that it affords newly appointed CFOs to convert the fall rite into a learning process.Read More
Observes McClymont: “You must ask not only ‘How do I learn from this?’ but also ‘What are my intuitions?’ and ‘What do we need to change?’”
To better highlight the rewards of CFO timing, McClymont tells us about an earlier CFO chapter with entertainment technology company IMAX.
Having joined this firm in August of 2016, McClymont found that the fall planning process enabled him with the insight necessary to more confidently signal a possible lane change during in his CFO stint with the company.
In early 2017, only 5 months after stepping into the CFO role, McClymont began to see some negative trends within the company’s operational data, prompting him to raise his concerns with IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond.
“Richard had this tremendous intuition about the business, so he kind of saw where I was coming from and said, ‘Okay, let’s closely monitor our performance on the next three movie titles that are coming out, and if we find that we’re not on track, then let’s have a real conversation,’” recalls McClymont, who adds that this approach provided him with an opportunity to set up an “early warning system.”
Besides the benefits that a CFO can garner from “learning while planning,” McClymont’s experience highlights the critical CFO–CEO relationship-building that transpired during the early days of his IMAX career chapter.
While he does not tell us whether a “real conversation” ever actually took place, McClymont does let us know that the conversation that CEO Gelfond had in mind would have involved IMAX’s stakeholders at large.
Comments McClymont: “He said, ‘Go get ready for that real conversation now—we need to start working on what to do if we end up in a spot where we need to pivot.'” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Hagerty … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
McClymont: We think of Hagerty as an ecosystem for the automotive enthusiast. Insurance for collectible cars, for enthusiast cars, would be kind of broadly described as being at the core of this ecosystem, but in addition to this, we’ve also created a membership model through which we’re offering additional value to our members. This includes things like roadside assistance for their vehicles; a best-in-class, award-winning magazine; and, obviously, tons of media content that we produce. We also own and operate events around the car-collecting hobby. Unlike other insurance businesses that add value only through risk transfer, we offer much more, and all of this together is at the core of our business. Plus, we’re doing this for folks who are deeply passionate about automobiles and car culture.Read More
When we’re asked about our long-term purpose, the answer is easy: It’s to save the car-driving culture. The long-term reason that we are around is to make sure that for decades to come, people can still enjoy all of the wonderful aspects of the car culture that we’ have developed.
In order to accomplish this mission, we’ve developed a business model that generates the funds to allow us to help to preserve car culture. It creates value for our customers in various ways, value for our shareholders, and a compelling place for folks to work. It all goes back though, to adding value for people who are deeply passionate about cars.
Our plans are really centered on where the company is going. We’ve come through a period of heavy investment in growth, so what we’ve communicated is that 2023 will be an important transitional year. We’re going to focus not just on top-line and customer growth but also on driving profitable growth on a go-forward basis. We have full alignment around this.
Another priority will be to continue to develop the new marketplace business that we established in 2022, which is a huge opportunity. The value of collectible cars in the world is north of a trillion dollars, and the domestic market is huge. Thus far, we’ve been really small in terms of helping customers through these transactions. We’re great on the insurance side of it, but now we’re building this platform that will also help them from a transaction standpoint. We have the brand, we have the expertise—now we just really need to put some muscle behind aggressively growing this business. So, this is a big push for us as well. jb
“Build a broad and deep network of internal relationships so that you have real-time access to different insights and a support system when it comes time to implement change.” –Patrick McClymont, CFO, Hagerty
Hagerty | www.hagerty.com | Traverse City, MI