Being a good CFO requires you to be as objective as possible and try to not be defensive, no matter if you’re dealing with good or bad situations. It is important to be very clear in explaining your thoughts and processes, reinforcing that you’re trying things in an effort to grow and prosper. If you aren’t constantly trying new things, then you won’t be able to properly build and expand your business.
Charly Kevers is CFO at Carta, an organization on a mission to create more owners, by building a global ownership management platform that aims to change how companies, investors, law firms, and employees manage equity. While he didn’t take a straight path to his current role, Charly’s breadth of experience in consulting, and time spent across the financial world, has given him great exposure to different businesses and executives to prepare him to be a leader at Carta. He embraces the drive for transparency at Carta as an important tool for building the company’s culture and investor confidence.
Charly joined us on the latest episode of The CFO Playbook podcast where he shared his thoughts on how transparency can build trust and confidence with your employees and investors. He explains why it is important to take risks and try new things. Charly also talks about the importance of embracing technology and how he approaches recruiting and retention for his team.
Giving investors and employees more insight can help your business. Charly has found it to be very beneficial to his company to be as open with the investor base as possible, because they’ve received a lot of help from it. Being transparent helps build productive relationships with your board and broader investor base.
As a CFO, treat your employees like they’re equal stakeholders in the company to everyone else. Help build a culture where everybody is expected to care and understand what the company is doing.
“Something I’ve learned from mentors and from my jobs is there is no point in trying to hide things. You just need to be as transparent as you can. It doesn’t mean you have to talk about everything, but be as transparent as you can so people understand your thought process and understand what you’re going through and lay out your plan.”
As a CFO, it’s your and your team’s job to make sure what your department is doing is easy to understand for all employees. Help the company to understand the big metrics and why they matter to the employees, leadership, board, investors, and company as a whole.
Give your employees the best opportunity to shine. Make sure that people understand they may be given hard problems to solve, but allow them the autonomy to do so in an effort to ensure continued growth.
Be continuously engaged with your team. Don’t dismiss any variables that may go into their or your work. Make sure you are regularly giving your team feedback and getting it back from them in return.
“In my experience, part of it is just explaining the process you go through. And, so being very clear that we’re always going to be trying things. Part of being in a company that is built on innovation, if you’re not trying, things are not going to continue to grow. That’s what we all get paid to do by our investors is continue to grow this business by finding new ways to do so, and change how certain things are done now.”
In the end, you know you have the best people for the job if you put them in front of hard problems and they’re able to solve them.
While it is important to make sure your team is ready to handle any challenge, so too do you need to have the right software and technology that can help get the job done.
It is important to establish a good foundation and look at all aspects of finance to evaluate what is needed and what would make the process better in the future. Find the best ways to engage with the broader business on essential needs. All in an effort to facilitate faster decision making.
“It’s not necessarily as much about efficiency for me in my company, but how fast we can move. Like our, our lens is generally, does this allow us to move? Does this allow us to do more? Can I do it with two instead of four people? If so, then I’m absolutely going to go do that. It’s more like, I have this process that I can actually go solve this other problem, and I can create this new product, and I can create a new revenue stream. So, we think about it a little differently by optimizing certain things. Now we can spend our time doing more things and growing the company.”
When deciding on new hires, take a moment to think about how technology can make you more efficient or complete any task at hand. When you look at your plans for each year, challenge yourself to think if you need to add another person to the team, or if there is a technology that can manage a process.
Don’t be afraid to try a variety of roles. Take chances, move around, and take on new opportunities.
A successful CFO gains exposure in whatever fashion they can by trying new things. Key areas to invest your time in are being exposed to Mergers and Acquisitions and talking to investors.
“I would strongly recommend folks take a little more risk earlier in their career. There’s one thing I think people forget, is that careers are long and you can always go do other things. You can always go back to a bigger company. What’s great about a big company is you learn a lot, but also everything is already done, and you’re not going to innovate a ton in the process. With smaller companies, you’re going to figure out a lot of things. And, then you have the opportunity to really think through deeply what makes sense for a business versus, well, this is how we’ve done it for 10 years. You have to actually go back to the basics. And, so I strongly encourage everybody to go get that exposure.”
There is no other way to learn things than through experience. You can’t just find everything you need to know in books. Reality is different from theory.
Trying out different roles and opportunities will help you to be a successful CFO. Make sure to gain an understanding of how investors approach their investments, and how to better communicate with them.
Help create a transparent environment that is open with employees and investors. While at first, it may be a bit jarring, being open and honest about the business can greatly improve a company’s culture and be a driver for growth.