Eighteen months after COVID microbes first began marching across the 50 states, business planning software developers have no shortage of business case examples to better expose the relevancy of their offerings.
Still, not every customer door that swings open leads to an avenue for success, according to Grant Halloran, CEO of FP&A developer Planful of Redwood City, Calif.
“We love the word “focus” in our organization, and we believe that there have been lots of software companies over the years that have lost their focus and gotten caught up in their returns,” explains Halloran, who—along with Darren Heffernan of accounting software company Trintech—sat down for an in-person interview with CFO Thought Leader host Jack Sweeney to discuss the two companies’ budding partnership amid COVID’s stubborn residency.Read More
Halloran believes that software developers in the finance space too often stray from their finance office customers as they seek out relationships with the leaders of different functional areas.
“We stay very close to the office of the CFO because we want to drive change from them in the center,” comments Halloran, who tells us that even Planful’s recent partnership with Trintech was in part driven by Planful’s mantra to stay focused.
“The reason that we partnered with Trintech was that the financial close is such a specialization for accounting teams that when we evaluated things, we felt that it would take us way too long to build such an offering ourselves since it’s so specialized,” notes Halloran.
At Trintech, Heffernan says that the office of the CFO has never been more central to a business’s operations.
Observes Heffernan: “During the pandemic, people ran to the CFO for guidance and to restore confidence due to all of the challenges that were happening. The demands on the office of the CFO and the position of the CFO have dramatically changed forever.”
Now Listen | This leadership interview was recorded on Sept. 19, 2021, at Planful’s Perform 2021 Customer Conference. In addition, the podcast features exclusive customer interviews with Johann Cabe, FP&A leader, Imperial Dade; Glenn Snyder, FP&A leader; and Noah Pieper, director of FP&A, LifeStance Health.
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CFOTL: We want to have you share some thoughts concerning today’s business planning mindset in light of Covid – but first want to ask about this partnership (between) Planful and Trintech.
Halloran: Thanks, Jack. So great to be back on the show. And I just want to help the audience here differentiate between Darren and myself. I have the Australian accent that you’re hearing right now, and Darren has the melodic Irish accent that you’ll hear.
Heffernan: Which is obviously far nicer.
Halloran: Well, we’ll let the audience decide. I think you’ve touched on, introduced actually, an interesting theme here. You know, if you go back 20 years of Sarbanes Oxley was the zeitgeist. That was the prevailing, I guess, force that was going on in selecting your CFOs. And so you have a lot of folks come from audit backgrounds and compliance backgrounds and more on the controller side.Read More
You know, it was hard to find a CFO back then that didn’t have a CPA background, right? That’s evolved dramatically today. CFOs often come from the business side, they’ve worked in divisions of corporations. They’ve got MBAs, general management backgrounds and, you know, a lot of them come from the investment banking world and they’ve stepped over into industry and become CFOs. So we’ve got this broad kind of more purview if you like across a corporation. And I think about all the CFOs we talked about today, what they talk mostly about is growth as a company. Wall Street and the private markets reward growth more than anything else, whether that’s in the top line or even, but also productivity.
You know, they’re looking for more productive ways. They’re trying to find leverage through people, capital and technology in the company and CFOs are increasingly mandated to do that on behalf of, of the, the CEO. So you’ve seen this fairly big shift in the, in the actual profile of a CFO today. And, you know, as I bring it down to what it means for us, for us, you know, Planful is an FP&A platform and Trintech there’s a partnership that brings, you know, the world’s best financial close automation functionality to our platform. And why I think that combination is so important for a CFO is because as they’re trying to drive more productivity, they need to support and empower the organization with the right information at the right time.
1 (5m 41s):
How do you do that? You have to reduce the cycle times for everything you’re doing. This is an end to end process that FP&A and accounting do together, right. Treasury is off doing its thing on a daily basis, right? But in terms of the actual mega process of finance and accounting, it’s all integrated. You know, it starts with the annual operating plan. Now we go into execution mode, we need to execute. And we transact in the business. Now we’ve got to close the books, right? How long does it take to close the books? That’s important because every day that’s a delay, means the FP&A team is waiting longer to be able to get the financial reporting done and get those management insights out to the stakeholders in the company.
1 (6m 23s):
So they can start to actually course correct the business faster. And there’s no time like now where cost correction is more important, right? We’ve seen that dramatic increase in the frequency of demand from the business. And so it’s just stressing the finance and accounting team. So, you know, we’ll talk more about the, the, the functionality and the partnership, but, you know, it’s hugely exciting for our customer base. I think it’s also attracting a lot of interest from new companies that are looking at Trintech and Planful to help them in this way.
0 (6m 58s):
CFOTL: Darren, earlier in the conference this morning, you mentioned your own experience while at Trintech adopting the Planful platform. And I’m wondering if you can just share that. I thought that was really interesting how you explained that, you know, you sort of had an aha moment how that the two were synergistic as well.
2 (7m 17s):
Heffernan: Yes. And I think I’m probably pretty lucky, Jack, because my background is in finance, right? I’ve been in a lot of finance and operational roles throughout my 30 year career in this industry. I’ve also had the luxury of starting off an audit. And then I went to controllership with GE and then I went to FP&A, when I actually started in Trintech. So I had a diverse background of understanding how everything connects together. So the aha moment for me has always been technology being brought into the equation. And you’ve seen that over the last, I would say 10 to 15 years where solutions like Planful, solutions like Trintech have come to the forefront.
2 (8m 0s):
It also coincided with the evolution of the role of the CFO, right? The role of the CFO has dramatically changed over that time period to become more strategic. And even today, the technical skills of an accountant are not really required anymore for the role of the CFO. So when I was thinking about when we put Planful for them to our business, when we were really good at closing their books, but we took so long on the backend of actually being able to understand the plan, the operating variances, what corrective action we needed to do. And it just made us question the status quo, how we were looking at it and thinking, why aren’t we doing these things on the variance analysis piece way earlier in the cycle?
2 (8m 46s):
So we can close the time, reduce the time to close the books, because that is the most precious commodity that any finance person has, which is, which is time. And like in this day and age, if companies don’t try and address that with the challenge we’re having, you know, recruiting talent, retaining talent with the gen Z kids that are coming through right now, they’re growing up on technology. So unless companies are willing to adopt the whole approach of technology, they’re going to get left behind the company is going to get left behind. And then like, if, if anything, COVID told us that the finance department is the heartbeat of the organization.
2 (9m 29s):
And that’s why, again, for Grant, his company platform coming together with Trintech has no bounds. Like it literally is a great combination together. It’s way stronger together
0 (9m 42s):
CFOTL: I want to touch on COVID and actually it’s hard, clearly not to, but as far as the planning mindset is concerned, Grant, how has it, how has it altered it? And, and again, we’ve interviewed quite a few CFOs and we’ve talked about that first quarter and, and what exactly happened in their organization, but here we are 18 months and there’s still so much uncertainty. So, you know, what would you tell us about that mindset, the planning mindset in this new environment?
1 (10m 19s):
Halloran: Yes. I mean, I think there’s this old maxim in planning that, you know, whatever you plan will… you’ll be wrong. Right? So, I think that’s frankly been probably heightened somewhat, and it’s not only these external factors. It’s also, you know, the reason why companies, you know, struggled to execute the plan is you’ve got these exogenous factors and they are magnified as you just alluded to, you know, dramatically right now. But you also have your own internal problems, you know, your best laid plans around launching that new product, or, you know, this team’s going to do that. You know, so you’ve got all these factors going on that make it very turbulent to run a business today. So the answer to that is course-correct more frequently, right?
1 (11m 0s):
And if you’re in a slow cycle of once a year you do an annual operating plan and you do a quarterly update to a forecast – you’re just not going to survive anymore. That’s just not a modern, productive way to run a company today. So what we saw in COVID, was the demand for the frequency of updates and new scenarios, and everything just dramatically went up. I use the example of Bose who spoke at our conference last year in May. So it was right in the height of all this. And they talked about how they were running ten scenarios a day. You know, you’ve got the board there literally sitting in with the CFO saying, what the heck is happening here? And they’re looking at what are the supply chain impacts for us going to be, right? For all the parts that we need to bring together to make our products.
1 (11m 43s):
We have retail stores, we have an e-commerce store. How are we going to continue to, should we continue to run these advertising right now? Like are people going to spend money on that product? You know, all these factors are here in flux and, you know, obviously liquidity was another one, right? You know, people are going to pay their bills? That was a crazy time around liquidity. So, you know, that frequency went up, but what’s the prevailing outcome of that is the business now has become conditioned to be able to get that frequency. And so the magnitude, you know, finance accounting folks are already, there are so many jokes about it, but it’s actually true. Finance accounting people spend, it’s almost like a rite of passage that you’ve got to work till two o’clock in the morning.
1 (12m 27s):
And you’ve got to be, you know, sitting in spreadsheets and finding all the areas and everything else. It’s, it’s like, what’s the joke about, you know, how can you tell when an accountant or an FP&A analyst is on holiday? You know they’re wearing their casual gear at the office and they got in just after eight AM. Right. So this is the role that those folks have had to leave in. So that burden is now going up dramatically because leaders like Darren and myself and other CEOs out there, they’re saying, Hey, you know what? You guys were able to give us this frequency of information and import before. Why can’t you do it at that frequency now? Okay. So burdens have gone up.
1 (13m 7s):
You’ve also, you know, we’re living in the midst of this great resignation. I’m not sure who coined that expression, but it seems to be getting around. You know, I mentioned this morning in my keynote speech here at our event that PWC did a recent study that showed 65% of employees in America are actively looking at changing jobs. I mean, that’s terrifying. That is terrifying. But you know, the way I position it for our customers is that’s an opportunity. So as Darren touched on, if you’re going to want to attract, like, that’s the profiling thing that’s coming out of this, this seismic shift that we’ve had here is if you’re going to attract the best talent and retain them, you’ve got to modernize the tools.
1 (13m 52s):
If you’re going to answer the questions for the business at a faster rate and enable those course-correcting scenarios, you’re going to have to modernize.
2 (13m 60s):
Heffernan: Yes. I would just add to that as well. Jack that, like when I started in finance, like 30 years ago, I went into finance knowing, okay, late nights, weekends, holidays, why I signed up for the job was crazy, but that’s the way I knew it was going to happen. And what’s so different about today. And I think the pandemic is even highlighted even more is… the kids of today, the talent that are coming through today, they’re not going to do that. They’re not going to accept like, Hey, I will,
1 (14m 34s):
Halloran: Well they may be three months, but then they’re going to move.
2 (14m 37s):
Heffernan: Which is why 65% they’re probably looking for jobs, right? Because they’re coming into a job. And they’re expecting that their work-life balance is already there. And more importantly that the adoption of technology is there. And if one of those two things is not there, that just backs up Grant’s point on the great resignation. They’re not going to stay. So,
1 (14m 58s):
Halloran: And Jack, I just, can I just make a quick point here? I mean, I think in a broad sense, you’ve got three levers you can pull in the business to gain more productivity from the company, right? You’ve got people, you’ve got capital and technology. So I know Darren and I lead technology companies. So one could accuse us of being biased here. But the reality is every function in every organization is looking to employees already on this journey, CRM and marketing and HR systems have been on this modernization journey for 15, 20 years, the FP&A team. I mean, the amount of demand that both our companies are experiencing indicates to me that the CFO office is starting to now realize we’ve got to modernize, we’ve got to step up.
1 (15m 43s):
So I think we’re entering the world for the CFOs, we’re entering an incredible golden age of modernization, adopting technology to get that leverage. You can’t just hire more people anymore, you have to find your leverage through technology. Every function has to do it.
2 (16m 1s):
Heffernan: Again, I would just add to that it’s always intrigued me that the finance community has been so used to analyzing business cases for every other part of the organization. They’ve never focused on doing business cases from their own office of the CFO. And when you think about it, logically, it makes no sense, right? Like the manufacturing industry, like cars, you know, started computerizing and automating that whole process back in the thirties, back in the forties. Right. And so many industries have gone through it since then, yet the office of the CFO is really only starting to get into this process right now. It’s shameful for us that it’s taken something as impactful as the last 18 months to do that.
2 (16m 49s):
But that’s why you’re seeing people really starting to shift their mindset about the adoption of new processes and new thinking and ways of doing things.
0 (16m 57s):
CFOTL: You’ve had choices as far as how to expand the Planful platform, areas that you could enrich with functionality and I’m curious sometimes when you make that call, this is an area we need to develop and make the offerings more robust. This is an area not for us. I’m wondering if there’s an example of something that you debated internally, and you finally said, you know what, not for us. Anything like that come to mind, would you tell us?
1 (17m 29s):
Halloran: It’s a great question. We love the word focus in our organization and I’ve seen lots of software companies over the years lose their focus and, and, you know, get eroding returns. So where we started since the office of the CFO, I mean that’s our place. So, you know, it’s that folks, whether it’s finance and accounting together, pondering to, to make a decision, we don’t want to go outside that. So you know, there are some companies in our space that will go and sell to the chief revenue officer or chief sales officer. And they’ll talk about, hey, we can do territory, quarter planning for you, supply chain planning and get very sophisticated supply chain planning.
1 (18m 9s):
They’re the areas that we don’t get involved in, we stay very close to the office of the CFO. We want to drive change from them in the center. And I think this is actually back to the earlier question about the evolution of CFOs. CFOs are now mandated to, to, to bring the right financial information at the right time to the right people in the business. And so they have much more of a technology mandate today to drive that. CIOs have been really obsessed with the cloud and, you know, supply chains are changing and everything else. So the CFO is actually really starting to step into that. So specifically, you know, areas that we for for, for instance, the reason we partnered with Trintech is because financial close has such a speciality for the accounting teams that we felt when we evaluated, you know, would take us way too long to build that it’s so specialized
1 (18m 60s):
And we’ve got a great opportunity to partner with a company that has a great culture fit, fantastic technology alignment with us. So that’s an example of where we would partner and not build ourselves. And, you know, we have other opportunities, incentive compensation management is another area where I think we’ve, we’ve we’re right for a potential partnership, you know, advanced supply chain planning. Again, it just gets a little bit out of the realm of, of what we would be comfortable with because, you know, it’s less about finance processes and more about, you know, particular supply chain processes. So, you know, that, that’s, that’s an answer to that, that question.
0 (19m 37s):
CFOTL: Yes, that’s great. What about this question? The comment “never has planning been more important in business. Never has it been more neglected.” Do you disagree with that?
1 (19m 49s):
I agree with the first part, but I wouldn’t say I so much agree with the second part and I have a very optimistic lens on the world right now frankly, and you know, the amount of demand that we’re seeing, especially coming out of the pandemic, at least the economic impact of the pandemic. I know it’s not fully over yet from a health perspective, but you know, the economy started to turn at the beginning of 21 and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in demand. We signed up one new customer a day in the first half of this year, subscription bookings, creds up 60% year over year, and similar kinds of numbers from 2019, if you want to compare it to 2019.
1 (20m 32s):
So it wasn’t just a COVID effect. It was there. Their businesses are out there, CFOs are out there and their teams recognize that this is starting to happen. So I think that the growth rates for, you know, the Trintechs of the world, the Planfuls of the world are only going to continue to rise. So, yes, I don’t think they’re neglecting it. I think they need to go on a journey. I think some folks are being a little bit traumatized by historically extremely costly and, and, you know, overrun projects around ERP projects and things like that. And so the idea of implementing, you know, new technologies can be potentially a little frightening.
1 (21m 12s):
It can maybe make them hold back a little bit, but there is an increasing awareness that these cloud technologies, we’re all a hundred percent native cloud built for that highly configurable. We have customers that are big companies, fast growing companies, highly complex businesses, and going live in literally weeks, you know, a couple of months, bigger corporations are going live in under six months. And it’s got a minimal IT involvement as well. So they’re recognizing, wow, a lot of those sorts of challenges that might have caused us some demand inertia in the past, they are starting to go away and they’re seeing examples of what our customers are doing. And they’re recognizing this is the time to get into it.
0 (21m 54s):
CFOTL: One of the phrases you used this morning, I thought was interesting and I wanted to ask you about, decision velocity. And again, you know, we speak to finance leaders and they’re sort of, I think articulating the same notion at times, they talk about agility in decision-making and they’re talking about, you know, having their decision makers be more proactive, what a positive that could be. What would you tell us about that phrase? And is it, is it, you know, can we measure that? Can we measure decisions across the organization are becoming more frequent and, and, you know, there’s a greater freedom in decision-making. At the same time, finance leaders might be a little concerned about all this freedom of decision-making out there.
1 (22m 44s):
Halloran: Well, I think if, yes, so, you know, you mentioned agility, I think the concepts are all from the same family, right. You know, you got straight line speed and you’ve got agility, which is your ability to go quickly, but also course correct. Right? A running back can’t keep going straight off the middle. They gotta be able to spot the gap and, and maneuver themselves a little bit. So let’s do concepts together and decision velocity. You can absolutely measure it because, you know, everyone should know the length of their cycle times, right? You have the mega process of an annual operating plan. You have, how long does it take us to close the books today? How many hours per person are we actually putting into doing those processes?
1 (23m 27s):
You know, how often can we do a forecast? I mean, it’s terrifying for some companies to go from quarterly forecast to monthly because the process of harvesting all the forecast information from the business units, it’s just too cumbersome and slow. And it’s often prone to human error. So, you know, they’re sending out spreadsheets and then they’re trying to harvest all this information back and everything else. Now, of course, we address that. So you can literally say, look, if it’s taking you 30 days to harvest and aggregate and, and QA a forecast, you know, if we can get that down to five days, you can start to move to a monthly. And now you’re in the realm of continuous planning, because you can start to put a rolling forecast model year, multi-year rolling forecast model together.
1 (24m 12s):
So these are measurable, you know. Where, where you need to go with decision velocity, it’s a pretty simple multi-step process. Firstly, you’ve got to get into the cloud. The cloud is an exponential technology. It scales infinitely and over time, those computing costs continue to drop. Okay. So the sophistication is then more in getting the data, getting all that data into our system. And when we have 1500 connectors to different applications and sources, right. Integration today, to be able to harvest that data, bring it in, make sense of it, clean it. It’s not what it was 10 years ago. It’s actually a table stakes capability today that companies like Trintech and planful have.
1 (24m 54s):
And then the next thing you’ve got to figure out are the operational models and the financial models that we need to put together. The vision is decision velocity, right? How you get there is a journey. You’ve got it. And that’s what my team and I are exceptional at, helping the customer understand what’s the low hanging fruit, what are the processes that you can really move the needle on right now? And let’s map out a roadmap over the next 12 months, the next two, three years, if you’re a bigger corporation and take each use case in process and implement it in this way. And then all of a sudden you’re starting to deliver value for the users.
1 (25m 35s):
You’re delivering value quickly for the corporation. And everyone’s going to continue to buy into that modernization journey.
0 (25m 43s):
CFOTL: Darren, I wanted to sorta ask you just about the opportunity when it comes to Trintech’s offerings and sort of the larger market, because somehow it’s taken longer for companies to get where they are when it comes to closing their books. And I’m just surprised that, you know, with the cloud and Trintech is a 20 year old company roughly, isn’t that right? So it’s, you know, 10 years of it’s really cloud driven, I would imagine as well, but why is so many companies still are, are just sort of not where I don’t know, one might’ve expected, they’d be today in terms of getting that, that time down to, you know, a shorter amount of time to close the books.
0 (26m 32s):
Are you not surprised that there are still obstacles that companies just are struggling to overcome?
2 (26m 43s):
Heffernan: I guess I’m surprised, but it’s improving. It’s changed a lot over the last, you know, 10 years, as you say, especially with the advent of the cloud and part of it may be generational as well, right? Because you’ve got a lot of people that have been in financials for many years used to doing things a certain way. And you know, there weren’t tools available to them to do things differently. You’d be amazed how many times we hear today that we didn’t realize there was a solution out here to help us improve that process. Right? Honestly, that’s probably like our biggest competitor today – Excel and similar to Planful. I’m sure it’s exactly the same people doing their budgeting and forecasting in Excel, but Excel is a wonderful tool and we’re a big partner of Microsoft, like Planful.
2 (27m 34s):
I love Excel, but it’s not a system of control. It is an ancillary tool. That’s helpful to you in that process, but it’s not the be all and end all that should control everything. And for obvious reasons, like, you know, human error on a, on a, on a keyboard can, can mess up a lot of things throughout the whole cycle. So we see it. We see that change now with again, I would say the next generation coming into more senior positions that are more in tune with the technology side of things are more aware of the, of, of solutions like ours that are out there. But the market is still only like the last estimate I’ve seen,
2 (28m 14s):
it’s only 15 to 20% penetrated as regards people who have an automated software tool to help them close their books. So there’s a long way to go with this, which is, again, something why I believe the combination of the FP&A side and on the finance and accounting side together is very unique and will create a lot of waves in the marketplace for both of us.
0 (28m 38s):
CFOTL: One of the interesting things about this conference, and even some of your customers this morning, they play this kind of unusual role where they get to roam across their companies and they partner with different business lines or business units. Many of them are sometimes embedded with those groups. So they’re sort of disciples, they’re sort of out there with other parts of the organization and yet they’re on your platform. So they are introducing other parts of the organization to these tools and, and here’s what we can do or here’s what we can see. It’s kind of unusual. I mean, when you look at organizations there aren’t many and of course they’re, they’re highly skilled and analytical.
0 (29m 25s):
So is it going to change it? You know, I’m often asking finance leaders, are they a dotted line back to finance or is that a straight line? Is that really someone that does he answer to that it’s a little bit of an organization by organization, but in some ways it strengthens finance overall, one would imagine because you’re, you’re putting talent out there.
1 (29m 47s):
Halloran: Yes. Do you want me to comment on what we’re saying here? So we we’re, we’re in the middle of a really big trend change here in the, in what if FP&A’s role is in the company and it’s not, it’s not unfamiliar because you start in IT, ease back, you know. IT used to be its own function, kind of on an island. And they were the guys that do the computers and support for folks. Right. And then all of a sudden the technology adoption started to get more sophisticated, particularly in the business units they were like, you know, we need our own IT person in here that understands our business because you know, we’ve now got, you know, we’re not just going to buy everything from Oracle and SAP. We’re seeing all these best of breed solutions by now there’s 10,000 of them.
1 (30m 30s):
I mean, I’m going to 20 years ago. It was like, everything was going to get eaten by SAP and Oracle. Well guess what? They didn’t, right. There’s thousands and thousands of best of breed solutions out there. So the business unit’s saying, Hey, you know, we need an IT person in our organization that actually understands our business to help us navigate the, the adoption of technology, the same thing is happening now in finance. So you’ve got analysts that are going out and they’re embedding in the business units. There’s still a hard line into finance and there’s a dotted line into the business units, even in our corporation. You know, we have folks who now have a team that spent just as much time with the marketing folks and the sales folks, you know, the leadership teams and they’re sitting in the weekly meetings, sitting in there doing projects with them.
1 (31m 19s):
And it’s hugely powerful. And the reason for that is that finance is now, like I mentioned before, it’s taken on a new complexion. There’s a new mandate for what the office of the CFO is going to do in the company. You’re not just looking at financial metrics anymore, your P and L, your balance sheet, right. Your variances and everything else that you’re looking at. You’re looking at the building blocks and the bottom block is your operating metrics, right? And in marketing that leads, you know, our conversions from an S one to an S two in a pipeline. Now we’re looking at the actual pipeline value. So the next building block is commercial metric.
1 (31m 60s):
So how do we convert those operating metrics into commercial metrics, sales pipeline, sales cycles, you know, average deal sizes. These are all the levers, the mathematical levers that are going to ultimately drive up to the third block, which is your financial metrics. The more you can create the connections between those three layers, the more you’re going to get more accurate forecasts, faster forecasts. And you can start to now empower the organization with that intelligence and we call it financial IQ. Right? And so the challenge and I, and I love this expression is you, you have an opportunity to elevate the financial IQ of everyone in your corporation through the way that you organize your teams, to the way that you use technology, this modern technology, to empower these folks and bridge all those metrics together.
1 (32m 50s):
You know, it’s not something you just out of the box can roll out. You have to have smart FP&A analysts working with companies like Planful and our partners and Trintech and whatnot, and build a roadmap, and then you can actually go on that journey and you’ll get there. I mean, we have companies today that are driving so much change so quickly, and the companies doing this.
2 (33m 10s):
Heffernan: Now, one of the things we see as well, Jack, within our customer base is there’s more and more engineering talent going into finance roles than ever before. Like the new term out there is like they’re data scientists. Like it just shows that the office of the CFO through all aspects is the heartbeat of the organization. And if you can tap into all the sources of data that those guys are, are actually, you know, consolidating, you can, you can gain more efficiencies within the team. What better way to do that than an engineer mindset, to be able to grapple the data and figure it out, you know, what to do with it.
2 (33m 52s):
So we see that a lot.
0 (33m 54s):
CFOTL: So, Darren as you, as you’ve observed things over the last year, there are so many things to lose sleep over if you’re a CFO, but what would you tell us, Darren, in your observation? What, what, what are the concerns that CFOs really…?
2 (36m 7s):
Heffernan: I’d say the first thing is like the demands on the office of the CFO, and the position of the CFO have dramatically changed, right? Everybody during this whole pandemic ran to the CFO for guidance and, and confidence, and, you know, with all the challenges that were happening with that. So what we’ve seen again, among our large customer base is that it’s going to remain consistent, that the hybrid working environment is going to be here to stay. Not because whether you think it’s right or whether it’s wrong, it’s employees are going to dictate. That’s the way they want to work. And the finance people are no different.
2 (36m 46s):
Yes. They’re happy to come in when they’re closing the books, right? And then they go back and spend two days at home or three days at home or whatever it is for the other weeks. But what that’s going to demand is you don’t want to be ruining your close process for example, for 30 days. Cause, cause what’s going to happen. People are going to go with the shifts at different companies at the same time, as, as, as I believe the hybrid workforce is going to remain. The challenge of acquiring talent and retaining it most importantly, because it’s so hard now to onboard people, like we’ve had challenges with our onboarding. We’ve changed our processes. We’re making it more personable. We spent a lot of focus on it, but like, it’s not perfect.
2 (37m 29s):
It’s not like you’re all, you’re all together. Like you have been before. Plus because of the demands, especially in North America for talent, you’re now taking talent wherever you can get it, the realization that, hey, they don’t have to be in the same city that can be in any city and work from whatever environment that’s changing, the way people do things. So for us, I just see that like, again, I’m obviously biased because we’re trying to, you know, get people to use close functionality tools to automate that process. But it is genuinely coming from a place of making your life easier and making sure the ultimate goal of a CFO, the ultimate product that they have to deliver at the end of a period is an accurate and timely P&L account and balance sheet.
2 (38m 12s):
That’s what they’re judged on. Ultimately, even though they’ve got hundreds of other things to do, that’s the product that they’re releasing to the street or they’re releasing to their stakeholders and we’re able to stand, they have to stand over. So how can they make sure that all the processes that are going into that are accurate, timely, and as I jokingly say, they’ll make them lose their job
0 (38m 35s):
CFOTL: Grant, what would be the advice you have for CFOs at this unusual place in time?
1 (38m 41s):
Halloran: Yes. We’ve covered a lot of ground today. I would, I would just net it out to this one piece of advice. I think the days of being, you know, magnanimous and altruistic to all the other business units are maybe over. This is potentially the time for CFOs. In fact, I think it is the time for CFOs to realize you’ll find that accounting teams really need your help. They need investment behind the modernization of their tools, all the stuff we’ve talked about. I do believe wholeheartedly again, you know, Darren says, you know, we’ve got to avoid the bias here, but I would challenge anyone to, to mount an argument different to this. But you know, if you’re gonna, you’re going to get leverage in your company
1 (39m 21s):
It’s people, the capital of technology. And right now the most efficient and effective and highest ROI is going to be through technology. And my advice to CFOs is if you’re not on that train right now, and you don’t have a roadmap, you don’t have partners that are best of breed in what they do. You know, you’re going to be really struggling in the years ahead. So go out, be a little more selfish, allocate more budget to your teams. They want it, they need it. And, you know, make sure you’ve got good younger folks in the, in the corporation that are digital natives that grew up with an iPhone in the crib. You know, these are folks that you want to empower to say, Hey, you know what? You get on the project.
1 (40m 1s):
Why don’t you be a finance systems manager? Why don’t you drive the modernization of our processes through technology and empower those folks because they’re going to love it. They’re going to feel right at home doing that. And they can make a big impact on your business.
0 (40m 15s):
Grant Halloran and Darren Heffernan. Thank you for joining us on CFO Thought Leader.
1 (40m 20s):
Halloran: Thanks, Jack.
Heffernan: Thanks, Jack.
0 (40m 22s):
All right. Thank you gentlemen.