When David Parsons tells us that he remains concerned about the whereabouts of his 20-something-year-old self, we realize that our talk with Zuto’s CFO is going to be different from most of those that we undertake with today’s finance leaders.
According to Parsons, “Thirty-nine-year-old Dave is looking at mid-20s Dave and asking, ‘What are you thinking?!‘”
Some further probing on our part reveals that “mid-20s Dave” was roaming the English countryside on weekends as part of a wedding band, as well as a member of other assembles—including a popular Michael Jackson tribute act.Read More
“I just went down this rabbit hole where I was working weekends as a musician and doing studio work in the evenings,” explains Parsons, who adds that his weekend music tours would often book-end 70-hour workweeks in corporate finance.
“I don’t mind working the hours, if I get to do what I love doing,” continues Parsons, who began serving in a succession of FP&A roles once he was safely beyond his 20s.
“I have not necessarily built my career by trying to fill niches and gaps on my c.v., which is, by the way, a good way of going about things—but it’s just not for me,” remarks Parsons, who notes that he began to find his work increasingly satisfying as he moved into a number of commercial finance roles, which eventually led him to accept a position with UK-based automobile finance and loan company Zuto.
“Basically, we begin by placing a customer with a lender and a preapproval, which means that we can tell them with a very high degree of accuracy whether the lender is going to accept them,” reports Parsons, who points out that Zuto deploys a sizable team of car-buying experts who can offer customers one-on-one service for vehicle history checks, free vehicle valuation checks, and the like.
Parsons recalls that at the time that the CFO role opened up at Zuto roughly 5 years ago, he was overseeing FP&A. Nonetheless, although the company was evaluating other CFO candidates, he knew that in the end he was a good fit—and not necessarily because of his familiarity with the business.
Says Parsons: “It really comes down to being a cultural fit, and for me, I found that this business is doing something that I believe in.” –Jack Sweeney
“You don’t have to know everything to succeed—you’re here because of what you do know. Never stop sweating the details but understand the difference between being in it and being on it. Be ready for anything, but through any uncertainty, remember that the business fundamentals are more important than ever—so on keep pushing!” –David Parsons, CFO, Zuto
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CFOTL: Tell us about Zuto … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Parsons: Zuto’s purpose is to make the car financing experience easier through simplicity and integrity. To understand what we are all about, we need to start by reflecting on what buying a car and financing a car was like back in 2006—and to some extent actually still is today. You go to the car dealership, you’re on the forecourt, and you see a car that you like the look of. You’re walking around it, and the car salesperson comes out and says, “Hey, look, you fancy taking it for a test drive?” You’re thinking, “I haven’t got a lot of time, but you know what, I’m here, so, yeah, sure, I’ll take it for a test drive.” You take it on the test drive, and although you’re really liking the car at this point, you’re not quite sure that you can afford it—but you’re thinking, “I like it.”Read More
You get back to the dealership, and the salesperson says, “Hey, look—this might be affordable. Why don’t we step into my office, and let’s see what we can do for you in terms of finance?”
You sit in the little office having your cup of tea or your glass of water or whatever, and the salesperson disappears off to print out a one-pager that will tell you what they can do for you in terms of car finance.
Back then, the salesperson had a choice, which was what APR they were going to charge you, which itself would directly correspond to the commission that they were going to get from the lender. What this means is that if they’re getting on really well with the customer, they might push the rate up and see what they could get away with. But if the customer is a bit more standoffish, a bit more of a savvy saver, they’ll say, “Hey, look. I’ll go and talk to my manager.” Then off they disappear for another 10 minutes, they print off another piece of paper, and magically the rates move down for you.
In those two instances, the customers might have exactly the same credit histories and exactly the same personal circumstances, but they each would get charged a completely different rate. At Zuto, we really thought that the customer wasn’t getting a very good deal. It certainly wasn’t transparent. It was high-pressured, and the customer was not getting a lot of choice in terms of product and lenders.
So, what we built was a finance-first online journey. Zuto is an online marketplace that helps customers looking for car finance. We use data acquired through a diverse range of online sources, ranging from online automotive classifieds to price comparison sites to our own paid digital marketing. Once they’ve made an online application, we connect these customers to a whole market panel of lenders, eventually placing them with a lender that has given a preapproval.
What this means is that we can say with a very high degree of accuracy which lender is going to accept which customer—and we’ll always place the customer with the lowest rate that we can get for them. We do this without a hard search on their credit score, which is really important to our customers. They want to know that before a hard search is done on them—which impacts their credit score—they’re definitely going to get approved.
We have built what is really, truly, a hybrid model that takes the transparency and immediacy and flexibility benefits of an online model and combines them with a humanized element that really takes the pain out of car-buying for our customers.
Zuto | www.zuto.com | Macclesfield, United Kingdom