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Modernizing Finance: Embracing People, Processes, Partnerships, and Technology

At a recent Maxio Expert Voices event, Chris Ortega, CEO of Fresh FP&A, discussed the changing role of the CFO from spreadsheet jockey to strategic advisor.

Alec Beard image

Alec Beard

May 26, 2023

What is the Future of SaaS Finance

At a recent Expert Voices event with Chris Ortega, CEO and Founder of Fresh FP&A, we explored how the role of the modern finance leader is changing. Finance professionals aren’t spreadsheet jockeys or number-crunchers—they’re strategic partners that are crucial to achieving long-term success within an organization. 

In this article, we’ll share Chris’s advice on:

  • Financial partnership advising

  • Technology adoption and talent management

  • Upskilling

  • Leaving a lasting legacy as a modern finance leader

Here’s what we learned.

Embracing a Fresh Perspective on Financial Partnership Advising

The traditional definition of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is shifting. 

In the pre-pandemic era, CFOs were primarily focused on growth, risk management, compliance, and conventional tasks. However, the pandemic disrupted the status quo and forced CFOs to lead their organizations through unprecedented uncertainty. This challenging period established a new baseline of business expectations for the office of the CFO. 

CFOs can no longer be mere scorekeepers—they must provide value by leveraging technology and adopting a proactive approach to financial management.

By partnering with GTM leaders, the modern CFO can provide insights into which business segments to double down on, which verticals to break into, which customers have the greatest CLTV, and how the business can maintain financial stability while pursuing efficient growth. 

In short, the modern finance leader needs not just an advisor, but an active collaborator within a business.

Leveraging Technology as Batman's Tool Belt

Technology has become a powerful tool for CFOs, providing them with business intelligence, automation, and scalability. Chris urges finance leaders to view technology as their "tool belt," akin to Batman's gadgets and gizmos.

By embracing technology, CFOs can empower their teams to engage in high-value activities that drive growth and efficiency. For example, Automation and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) play a critical role in scaling finance operations, streamlining processes, and optimizing resource allocation. Similarly, point solutions and enterprise tools also play a vital role in facilitating SaaS billing, subscription management, revenue recognition, and financial reporting.

Instead of implementing NetSuite and calling it a day—or running all their operations out of an overgrown Excel spreadsheet‚ Finance leaders need to be intentional about the technology they adopt depending on where their company sits on the financial operations maturity curve.

Prioritizing People: Investing in Talent and Culture

The value of people within the finance function cannot be overstated. 

CFOs need to recognize the importance of talent acquisition, development, and retention. By putting people before profits, CFOs can create a culture that fosters innovation, collaboration, and growth. 

To facilitate successful financial transformation, CFOs must focus on three pillars: people, processes, and partnerships:

1. People: Finance professionals play a vital role in driving financial transformation. CFOs should bring in high-performing individuals who possess the necessary skills and expertise to adapt to the changing landscape. By leveraging the knowledge and capabilities of these professionals, CFOs can enhance decision-making and drive impactful outcomes.

2. Processes: Well-defined and collaborative processes are the skeletal framework of every successful business. CFOs must emphasize the importance of establishing streamlined processes that promote efficiency, accuracy, and collaboration across functions. This collaboration between finance, sales, and marketing is essential for aligning goals and driving financial outcomes.

3. Partnerships: CFOs must foster strong partnerships within and outside the organization. Collaborating with internal stakeholders, such as IT and operations, helps CFOs align technology initiatives with overall business objectives. External partnerships with technology providers and consultants can provide valuable insights and expertise to support finance transformation efforts.

Upskilling: Moving Beyond Calculations

Finance professionals must expand their skill set beyond calculations and traditional finance functions. 

Chris likes to define the new requirements for the modern CFO with what he calls the “new ABCs for CFOs”:

  1. Always being curious

  2. Always building connections

  3. Always collaborating

By broadening their knowledge of the business, understanding operations, and connecting financial insights to strategic decision-making, CFOs can elevate their roles and contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Curious how other CFOs are adapting to the new market environment? Here are Maxio CFO, Dan Owens, top 3 priorities for SaaS CFOs in 2023.

Writing a Legacy: Disrupting the Office of the CFO

The current state of Finance presents an unprecedented opportunity for CFOs to disrupt the traditional role and leave behind a lasting legacy. 

By embracing change, challenging the status quo, and fostering discomfort, CFOs can drive innovation and transform their organizations. The evolution of other business functions, such as operations, sales, and marketing, should inspire CFOs to reimagine their roles and make a significant impact.

An Exclusive Community of SaaS Finance Experts

We’ll be facilitating more discussions like these within our Expert Voices group, an exclusive community of SaaS finance experts.

Expert Voices is an invite-only event series where the best and brightest minds in the SaaS Finance community meet for meaningful conversation about industry trends and best practices. These Maxio-produced events offer C-Suite individuals the opportunity to access the experience, wisdom, and insights of like-minded individuals, and hear from guest speakers on relevant financial topics and current market trends. 

Apply now to attend one of our upcoming events and unlock your next stage of professional growth. We hope to see you there!

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