Or listen on your favourite streaming platform:
Charly Kevers, CFO at Carta, has more than 20 years of experience holding various roles in finance and strategy, including investor relations and corporate development in multiple countries across North America, Europe, and Asia. While he didn’t take a straight path to his current role, his breadth of experience in consulting and the financial world has given him great exposure to different businesses and executives to help prepare him to be a leader at Carta.
To be a successful CFO, Charly strongly believes in trying out different roles and opportunities, including learning about mergers and acquisitions and investor relations. This will help you as a CFO to gain an understanding of how investors approach their investments, and how to better communicate with them. Carta takes a unique and transparent approach to their business, being open with employees and investors. While at first, this was a bit jarring for Charly, he has embraced how being open and honest about the business can greatly improve a company’s culture and be a driver for growth.
Charly believes that 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. He feels that if you aren’t constantly trying new things, then you won’t be able to properly build and expand your business.
In this episode of The CFO Playbook, Charly Kevers, CFO at Carta shares 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.
Take The CFO Playbook Listener Survey to help us improve the show. You’ll also be entered to win your choice of the latest iPad Pro or a Samsung Galaxy S7.
Name: Charly Kevers
What he does: 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 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.
Key Quote: “Building trust and confidence is really important. The relationships with investors are of course looking at them as an asset that will appreciate, but a big part of it is I also do believe in the team running the company. The trust only comes if they can believe what you’re saying; if they can trust that you will share enough information for them to make the right decision.”
Where to find Charly: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlykevers/
Provide more visibility
Giving investors more insight can help you as a 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. This doesn’t mean you have to give all the details or exact figures, but shows investors what is being done to build the company, establish the strength of the business, and how you’re optimizing projects for prosperity. Investors are partners in your business, so building trust in transparency drives them to want to help more.
Be inclusive with your employees
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. 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.
Empower your employees
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. 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 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.
Tap into technology
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. 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. As your company changes, don’t be hesitant to turn to technology as a solution.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 on 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.”
“Part of it is in my experience, explaining just the process you go through. And so being very clear that we’re always trying, and partly 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 grow it and, and change how certain things are done now.”
“I think it’s really about explaining your process, explaining how you approach company building. It doesn’t mean you need to give all the details of like this project didn’t work and we’re investing these exact number of dollars here, but more like here’s how we’re going to build. We’re going to have these established businesses and we’re going to continue to build, and frankly, start to focus on optimizing and here are a few projects. We don’t know yet if they’re going to work, here’s why we think they’re worth investing in and we’re going to keep you updated on the progress and just like overall broad stroke levels of progress, so people don’t feel like there are any surprises. I think it’s just, everybody knows certain things work, others don’t work. I think it’s unrealistic to say no, everything’s perfect. Like everything we do is a great investment. And so I think it’s also part of just building that trust that people know. Once they’re investors, they’re partners with you and just treat them as such, and make sure they also can help you.”
“The mistake I made early in my career is always thinking the investor are kind of like the teacher. I realized definitely at Carta that they know that things things will go wrong and they want to be here to help. And if you give them that visibility, they can’t help you. And, so that’s been super interesting. And, and frankly, I have to say it’s been very beneficial to us to be as open as we can with our investor base, because we’ve gotten a ton of a ton of help from it.”
“It’s getting tough for companies to just say, nope, no liquidity until we go public because employees are starting to expect it. I think a lot of people are realizing now over the last few years, capital was plentiful. It’s still plenty of capital in the private markets. I don’t want to say it’s drying up at all, but the dynamics have changed with the public markets being what they are. And, everybody’s raised a lot of money, which is great, which means everybody has runways for a long time. But now with all the funds that people raised in the last couple of years, and oftentimes did secondaries related to these funding rounds because they had so much investor interest. Now, what are you doing when employees come back and say, ‘Hey, can we do this again? This was great. Can we do it again?’ And I think it will force a lot of companies to think about it. So I think it’s a term change, but we believe that this is the path it’s taking and that the best employees will want to work for companies that have some form of liquidity. And, that war for talent is what’s going to shift behavior.”
“We want to treat everybody for what they are, which are not only employees, but also owners of the company. And so I think it’s to build a great culture from the standpoint of like, everybody’s expected to care about it and everybody’s expected to understand it. And it’s my job and my team’s job to make sure it’s easy enough to understand for all our employees. It doesn’t matter where. We should make sure to at least all the big metrics, everything we talk about, make sure you understand what it is and why it matters. And then over time, of course, my job is to make sure my peers and all their teams understand how they impact all these metrics and kind of tie everything back together. But that’s why we want to be quite transparent and talk about this regularly.”
“Really make sure that people understand they’ll be given hard problems to solve, and they’ll be given autonomy to do that. And of course, we want to make sure we look at all the aspects of engagement. And so I, I don’t want to dismiss all these other aspects that are really key to making sure that you also get continuous feedback from your team. But what I’ve found is in the end, this is one of the top things that matters. And of course, compensation has got to be right. A lot of these basics have to be taken care of, but if you put people in front of hard problems, the best people want to go solve hard problems.”
“Every time somebody wants to hire a person, ‘my first question is like, have we thought about any type of software we can use to do this?’ And it doesn’t mean it solves everything just to be clear. We’ve grown the team quite a bit, but, but that’s always the question. When we look at our plans every year, every quarter, let’s really challenge ourselves. Do we need to add in another person to do this role? Do we need to add another person to go manage this process? And so it’s an ongoing process. I don’t think you’ve ever done because when the company changes the needs change.”
“Generally, I would strongly recommend folks take a little more risk earlier in their career because there’s the one thing people I think forget also is like careers are long and you can always go do other things. You can always go back to a bigger company. But trying a little bit the scaling and the environment we got, you have to figure things out.”