This episode of the CFO Playbook features an interview with Alwyn Jones, Group CFO at Luno, a leading global cryptocurrency company with over 9 million customers in 43 countries that provides services for making it safe and easy to buy, store and learn about cryptocurrencies.
In this episode, Alwyn talks about the novel and evolving space of cryptocurrency and blockchain. He shares advice on retaining and hiring in a nascent industry, as well as starting an app based bank from scratch. Alwyn also discusses the importance of building personal resilience and embracing the latest financial technology to improve performance.
Cryptocurrency can be an ambiguous concept. As a leader in a novel financial services sector, there aren’t many preset rules or regulations to follow. While things could seemingly be great at one moment, there could be complete turmoil the next. Upcoming CFOs should be ready for a completely different challenge in this industry.
“Every day is different. Every day could be a curious mix between wild elation of what’s been achieved and being punched in the face, sometimes in the space of an hour. So starting from scratch, it’s a bit of a truism, but you are doing everything for the first time, in many cases.”
Uncertainty in a new sector can be troubling, especially for a single leader in the C-suite. Consistent and clear communication among leaders of a company make navigating an evolving space like crypto much more manageable.
“[Cryptocurrency] is definitely becoming more mainstream. I think four or five years ago you could have ignored this. I think now as CFO you need to be at least having a view and having maybe a dialogue with your board about what we should be doing in this space and how we can leverage and harness that technology.”
Leaders cannot succeed without a team to follow. It’s just as important to have an open dialogue with your team as much as it is with your board. You want to hire and retain valuable team members who aren’t entirely co-dependent on your every word. In a nascent space such as crypto, it’s hard to source candidates based solely on work experience because it is still an emerging sector.
“You need to hire people who can thrive in that environment, like uncertainty, very much able to shape something independently and move it forward without necessarily having a plan or a playbook or a set of rules for how it gets done.”
It is important to provide your team with the right tools to succeed in their positions independently. Sometimes new technologies can seem daunting, but taking the time and resources to adopt new tech into the structure of a team can be crucial for progression.
“What technology can do for finance teams, be it, are you using an outsourced ledger system? Are you using a system and a plan? Are you putting all your data in the cloud? All of this technology increases control, increases fidelity, increases speed, and that is priceless in the environments that we’re dealing in.”
The tried and true way to strengthen a business in a downturn is through operational efficiency savings. Simplistically, some people may view these as just ‘cuts’. But ‘cuts’ don’t actually capture the nuances and skill involved in cost saving.