Sruthi Lanka is clearly not the only CFO who began her professional career at blue chip investment house Goldman Sachs.
However, she may be one of the only CFOs—if not the only one—who can trace her career roots to Goldman’s technology engineering team.
Back in 2009, as the economic downturn dispatched a daily dose of bad news, Lanka was tasked with separating Goldman’s nervous bankers from their long-tenured messaging device of choice: the BlackBerry.
“Most banks would not even entertain the idea of switching because the BlackBerry was so locked down and considered to be ironclad,” explains Lanka, who notes that while Apple’s iPhone had become a popular alternative to the BlackBerry inside a number of different industries, bankers were known for clutching their BlackBerrys—and Goldman was no exception.Read More
According to her, “We found that most Goldman employees were already living on the iPhone, but meanwhile they would still carry this clunky BlackBerry.”
After 3 years with Goldman Sachs, Lanka found herself being led into another realm by the same curiosity that had once caused her to become an engineer and subsequently drawn her to all things tech.
A typical self-question of the time was “How did bankers make the decisions that they made about about whether to invest or not invest?” “This was all lost on me as an engineer,” recalls Lanka, who would return to school for an MBA and subsequently open her next career chapter as an investment banker.
With Royal Bank of Canada, Lanka advised clients during pivotal moments of their company’s trajectory. She found investment banking to be empowering, as she was able to work with seasoned CEOs and CFOs, but at the same time it was frustrating for her. Lanka tells us that it was then when she realized that she wanted to build a company rather than just advise others about theirs.
This experience led her to MoneyLion, where as head of strategic finance she leveraged both her finance acumen and tech engineering skills to build a data team to help to realize the early-stage start-up’s data-driven vision—a combination of skills and collaborative approaches that she would once more rely upon after stepping into the CFO office at Public.com in 2020.
Says Lanka: “It’s not about having all of the answers but about knowing the right questions to ask.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Public.com … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Lanka: Public.com is an investment platform through which you can trade stocks, treasuries, crypto, and ETFs, as well as alternative assets. For example, you can buy a piece of a Banksy painting on Public. We bring together assets that no one else does in one easy-to-use app.
The other thing that really sets us apart is the context that we build from the moment that you start using the app. Not only do we have a large community where you can exchange ideas and learn about dollar cost averaging and other finance fundamentals, but also we offer custom media. We have a show series called “Public Life” in which industry experts about topics such as renewables or what’s driving volatility in the markets.Read More
The combination of custom alerts, product features that build context around the stocks that you own, and special media that we produce is embedded in a distinctive business model. For example, we’re one of the few platforms that doesn’t accept PFOF, payment for order flow, which is the equivalent of Facebook and Google selling your data for advertiser money. We don’t do this, as many of our competitors do. These are the things that really set us apart from some of our competition.
As I look ahead, my priorities lie in further deepening some of the metrics that we consider to be our North Star. Everyone in our company should live and breathe comfortably and have the tools to translate our mission into their day-to-day work flow. We have our data infrastructure and we have our goals, but the things that become important at any given moment do change over time. Building this flexible machine in which the instruments to measure key metrics around our main goals—as well as the knowledge to translate them to key priorities—is what we are striving for. I think that this is the ultimate goal for most companies. It’s always a work-in-progress, but still it’s something that’s very top-of-mind as we think about organizational efficiency in dealing with the markets at this time.
Public.com | www.public.com | New York, NY