61 Challenge the Status Quo with Kirstine Archer, CFO at Bam Boom Cloud

2 June 2022   |   13 Minute Read

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This episode of the CFO Playbook features an interview with Kirstine Archer, CFO at Bam Boom Cloud. Although having been in finance for over 20 years, Kirstine says she fell into accountancy rather than making it a deliberate career move. Even though she may have taken a non-traditional path to CFO, Kirstine has a clear passion and expertise for helping small to midsize businesses by increasing their efficiency through advising and technology. 

Kirstine has worked for Bam Boom Cloud for the past two years. As CFO, her role isn’t just about making sure the numbers balance, she is always striving for the company to have the best finance team around. Her goal is to make sure the company delivers world class finance systems, both as their number one fan and number one customer. Her previous experience includes financial leadership positions at Cooper Parry, Equifax, TDX, Boots and more.

In this episode of the CFO Playbook, Kirstine talks about the many opportunities that technology provides for improving the way finance works. She emphasizes the need for more competition among companies to develop newly innovative finance tech. Kirstine explains how the finance industry should challenge the status-quo situated around old technology to develop new innovations that would eliminate human errors. She discusses her unconventional path to becoming a leader in finance, including finding benefit from attending an open university and getting on-the-job experience early in her career. Kirstine also talks about her approach to creating a great team, and provides advice for becoming a successful CFO. 

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Guest Quotes:

“When young people come into the world of work, they can be incredibly highly academic, intelligent, young people but don’t have work skills. So don’t have those skills in terms of communication or writing emails or just logic and problem solving and circling round to speak to people. There are a lot of skills that you don’t get until you come into the world of work. And I think that the world has moved on. I think that with the entrepreneurial spirit, you are probably going to get more from the world of work and learning from peers and seeing the good side and the bad side of what they do than you are necessarily sitting in a lecture hall, listening to somebody who is incredibly qualified in what they do, but hasn’t necessarily been in that work environment either ever or for a very long time. Knowing that you’ve got options should be really empowering to young people now because it’s something that I didn’t have when I was at school.”

“Finance can be a tough place to work at times. You get the business looking at you, suppliers, customers, it can be a tough environment to work in. We need people around us who we can rely on as team members and who not only have that tenacity, but that drive and that desire to want to do their best in their role.”

“I don’t necessarily want a team that everybody wants to be CFO. I want a good, well-rounded team where, yeah some people are knocking down at my door, wanting my job after me, but other people want to do the best they are at the job that they’ve got because they have family outside of work, or they have loved ones that they’re caring for, or actually they just don’t want the stress and the hassle of a high powered job because they want to finish on time and go and play football. We’re all many different sorts of people. And I think a well balanced team and a well-balanced company should support that.”

“Cultural fit is massively important. I think we’ve probably all worked in organizations where what they do is great and we’ve probably been remunerated well, but that cultural fit isn’t right. And if that cultural fit isn’t right, then you get demotivated and you don’t do your best. Eventually you get bored and you leave. So finding that right cultural fit from the office and spending the time doing that is massively important.”

“Young people that come in haven’t necessarily had a job in an office environment before let alone a finance function and actually setting them up with the right training and setting them up for success is important, but not everybody is going to succeed in that role. I think making a quick decision around that is equally as important. If you have gotten the wrong fit person in the team, and it could be that they’re a great person but they’re just not the right person for the role, then actually making that decision and finding either another role internally that’s better suited to them or  letting them leave and find their own career path is important.”

“I think the damage done to teams by keeping under-performance in place for long periods of time is worse than facing it head on and admitting that sometimes you make mistakes. Sometimes we get recruitment wrong. I know that I have in the past. You have to sometimes go with your gut. You sometimes have to go with the best person that’s sat in front of you, hope they’ll fit in and be great for them. And then, unfortunately, you have to deal with the consequences if they don’t quite meet expectations.”

“I don’t see why any of us want to do something that technology can do for us. We get a bit worried about the robot revolution. That will never happen because robots will never think in the same way as humans. They’ll never spot those little intricacies and add that value. I don’t want to grow a team that’s enormous. I want technology to take away the heavy lifting so that my team could do the interesting stuff, the stuff that really benefits them in their career journeys.”

“It still astounds me, today in 2022, the world’s global finance system is pretty much still held up by Excel. There is no finance function on earth that does not have an Excel spreadsheet somewhere. I think that’s symptomatic of the fact that actually as finance people, we don’t challenge the status quo enough sometimes. I think that sometimes, because we have month-end reporting and because we have to make sure that what we do gets done, we go, ‘I’d love to fix that but I haven’t got time and I need this to carry on working, it will do the job’. And I think sometimes we need to be bigger advocates of the fact that this doesn’t work for us.” 

“There are ways that you can use technology to speed every process up, every operational process. And the more that we do that, the more that you’re not reliant on humans and human fallibility and errors with that. As finance people, there’s nothing more frustrating than being like, ‘oh, someone forgot to do this’, or ‘you posted something in the wrong way round’. If we can remove that and get people doing what they should be doing, which is controlled checks, analysis, the data and the insight side of things, then we’ll all be better for it.”

“I think there needs to be competition within this space. Otherwise you end up with just Excel again, just a newer version of Excel that everybody relies on. There needs to be competition. A single source is great and Microsoft enables that, but there has to be competition within the partners in terms of who’s going to get to market first…. A world without competition is a world without innovation. So it’s massively important that that continues.”

“Don’t rush into the CFO role. Some people seem to be very desperate to get to the top of the ladder. It will come if it’s right to come to you, like the right opportunity will come up.”

“For me, it’s just about learning. If you’re not learning in the role that you’re in, then it’s probably time to move on. But it doesn’t always have to be up the career ladder. It can be sideways or a similar role in a different organization. If you want to be a CFO of a fast paced organization, spend some time in finance in a fast paced organization. See how you like it. Because one day that’s all going to be yours to look after.”

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Timestamp Topics:

01:30 Kirstine’s career path

05:39 Formal education

07:58 Advice on university

10:31 Education v. work experience

13:04 Narrowing down hiring candidates

19:27 How Kirstine’s finance team functions compared to others

25:45 In-house v. outsourcing when it comes to finance

28:03 Opportunities for improving the way finance works

36:35 Advice for upcoming CFOs 

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Links:

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Connect with Kirstine on LinkedIn

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Kirstine’s Playbook: Why Competition is Good for Finance Tech

Kirstine Archer, CFO at Bam Boom Cloud, has over 20 years working in finance with the purpose of helping small to midsize businesses achieve their goals by increasing their efficiency through technology. However, her role isn’t just about making sure the numbers balance. She is always striving for the company to have the best finance team around. Working for a company that delivers world class finance systems means that she is both their number one fan and number one customer.

In the latest episode of the CFO Playbook, Kirstine talks about the many opportunities that technology provides for improving the way finance works. She emphasizes the need for more competition among companies to develop newly innovative finance tech. Kirstine explains how the finance industry should challenge the status-quo situated around old technology to develop new innovations that would eliminate human errors. She discusses her unconventional path to becoming a leader in finance, including finding benefit from attending an open university and getting on the job experience early in her career. Kirstine also talks about her approach to creating a great team, and provides advice for becoming a successful CFO.

A Well-Rounded Team for a Well-Balanced Company

Moving horizontally across roles can be very important for one’s personal needs and development, and prove quite beneficial to their career aspirations. No one role in a well-balanced team is all-encompassing, including that of the CFO. In order to succeed as a team, each position should be tailored to the specific talents of the individual of that role, and vice versa.

“I don’t necessarily want a team where everybody wants to be CFO. I want a good, well-rounded team where, yeah some people are knocking down at my door wanting my job after me, but other people want to do the best they can at the job that they’ve got because they have family outside of work, or they have loved ones that they’re caring for, or actually they just don’t want the stress and the hassle of a high powered job because they want to finish on time and go and play football. I think a well balanced team and a well-balanced company should support that.”

Challenging the Status-Quo in Finance

Technology is making great leaps in industries across the globe, but some of the most-used financial platforms are highly outdated. Improvements can be made but not if people aren’t willing to step up and demand modern solutions. 

“It still astounds me, today in 2022, the world’s global finance system is pretty much still held up by Excel. There is no finance function on earth that does not have an Excel spreadsheet somewhere. I think that’s symptomatic of the fact that actually as finance people, we don’t challenge the status quo enough sometimes. I think that sometimes, because we have month-end reporting and because we have to make sure that what we do gets done, we go, ‘I’d love to fix that but I haven’t got time and I need this to carry on working, it will do the job.’ And I think sometimes we need to be bigger advocates of the fact that this doesn’t work for us.” 

Eliminating Human Errors

Everybody makes mistakes. Adopting new technologies will alleviate the complications caused by human fallibility. While there’s growing cause for concern when it comes to autonomizing everything, robots can only go so far. Our livelihoods are saved by the value we provide as living beings, because computers can’t replace the thought processes of people.

“There are ways that you can use technology to speed every process up, every operational process. And the more that we do that, the more that you’re not reliant on humans and human fallibility and errors with that. As finance people, there’s nothing more frustrating than being like, ‘oh, someone forgot to do this,’ or ‘you posted something in the wrong way round.’ If we can remove that and get people doing what they should be doing, which is controlled checks, analysis, the data and the insight side of things, then we’ll all be better for it.” 

Competition as a Driving Force in Tech

The word ‘competition’ can have a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t. Two or more parties, competing simultaneously at developing a new technology, allows for growth, innovation, and individualism. This is highly necessary when it comes to achieving customer satisfaction and service, especially in the financial industry.

“I think there needs to be competition within this space. Otherwise you end up with just Excel again, just a newer version of Excel that everybody relies on. There needs to be competition. A single source is great and Microsoft enables that, but there has to be competition within the partners in terms of who’s going to get to market first…. A world without competition is a world without innovation. So it’s massively important that that continues.”