Business, Interviews

Three questions CFOs need to know the answers to

14 June 2021  |   7 minutes read

Three questions CFOs need to know the answers to

dotdigital CFO Paraag Amin on driving growth by asking the right questions

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As the current CFO of dotdigital, the UK’s largest omnichannel marketing platform, Paraag Amin helps shape a company narrative that captures the interest of investors and cultivates the loyalty of employees.

His secret? Asking questions, and being open to learning more.

We recently hosted Paraag on The CFO Playbook, where he discussed how CFOs can help grow a healthy business.

Here are the three questions he says you need to ask yourself to keep growth on track.

1. How do I approach my investors?

Growing businesses need investment. So what do CFOs need to do to capture the interest of a potential investor?

Paraag says to keep it simple. Focus on the big picture first in order to set the scene, and then go into detail to show them the true potential of your company.

He says investors want to know three things: how fast your industry is growing, what your company’s market position is, and what the competitive landscape looks like.

In order to weave a persuasive narrative, you have to know your business – and its competition – inside out. And it is your job to convey that clearly and convincingly to potential backers.

You have to frame a compelling narrative because, at the end of the day, it isn’t only about the numbers. Especially for startups, markets are unpredictable, so it can be tough to predict future numbers accurately.

Ultimately, investors are buying into the vision you have for your company. Paraag says:

‘Investors aren’t buying into the numbers. They’re buying into you as a founder, they’re buying into the business model, and they’re buying into the strategy.’

In other words, build a vision for your company that’s worth buying into.

2. How do I keep my finance team looking forward?

The role of a CFO, and of the finance team as a whole, has changed from simply analysing the past to utilizing your finance knowledge to improve the future. Finance teams need to learn how to anticipate – and therefore mitigate – problems that may arise.

That line of thinking starts, according to Paraag, by looking at the financial data and asking a lot of questions.

  • What’s working in your business?
  • What needs to change?
  • What can you do to help your company improve?

When you think ahead, you can solve problems as they occur, Paraag says:

‘If you can pre-empt areas of weakness, particularly before they happen, that’s the ultimate holy grail of analysis and what you’re looking to achieve. And if you can be better than what you thought, fantastic.’

It’s much easier to focus on the financials and leave guessing about the future to someone else. But as the role of finance shifts, you and your team must shift with it.

3. How do I cultivate committed employees?

In order to foster loyalty, you need to provide growth opportunities that help your employees advance within your business.

A great way to do this, according to Paraag, is by automating manual, time-consuming processes. Not only does that cut costs, but it also gives employees more time to increase their skills and become even more valuable to the company.

When you replace mundane tasks with opportunities for growth, it makes your employees feel important to the company. Paraag says: ‘You want to empower people to make them feel that they are playing a part in the growth of the business.’

When employees feel valued, in return they value their employer, according to Paraag:

‘Every single role is important. And the more you can upskill that role and make that role something that people can see the value-add easily, it becomes easier to manage employee satisfaction and employee commitment to the business.’

Successfully managing employees is a give-and-take process. If your employees feel valued, and if they are given opportunities for growth and promotion, they will be more loyal to your company.

Create impact by asking the right questions

These three questions touch on just a few of the facets of a CFO’s role, which continues to change even in 2021.

For Paraag, asking questions – and finding answers – helps him be a better CFO. But it isn’t just about finding answers. It’s about allowing those answers to impact the way you operate.

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