Role of agile, high growth Finance
High growth startups are frequently changing and chaotic. Modern Finance leaders introduce structure into the chaos so that a business can scale quickly.
Their work is centred on enabling visibility and predictability, which stems from a deep and integrated understanding of go-to-market, customers, competition, talent, and investors for a business.
Unfortunately, the amount of work and specialism required make it near impossible for a single professional to handle and wear “many hats” successfully. In particular, the rise of Cloud and SaaS have fundamentally shifted the role and skill sets required for agile, high growth Finance teams. Unlike legacy licensing models, SaaS has changed the selection of software and a solution provider’s cost structure, resulting in much more complex, frequent changes in a company’s go-to-market strategy.
Modern Finance teams spend most of their time distributing and communicating valuable business insights and intelligence used for growth acceleration. These teams exist not simply to de-risk, but more importantly to ensure a high performing growth culture required in order to thrive.
Public companies typically have Finance teams of 60-80+ professionals. In an early stage business, the need is no different.
Statutory reporting in compliance with local requirements
SaaS reporting in compliance with IFRS 15 and ASC 606
Full visibility and control over when and how money is moving in & out
Evaluate and implement tools for Accounting, Invoicing, Subscription Management, Payments, and Expense Management
Responsible for control of business costs and cash movements
Qualified accountant with 3-5+ years of post-qualification work experience; commercially-minded “super star” controller
Generalist experience, though ideal candidate has SaaS experience
Analytical yet pragmatic, good balance of “precision” and “quick results”
Hands-on project manager with proven ability to multitask and prioritize complex operational projects
Head of Finance
Building the foundation for SaaS reporting
Bookkeeping and accounting ensures a business is in compliance with its local government and regulatory requirements, which is distinct from SaaS reporting. A global SaaS business and its revenue is governed by IFRS 15 and ASC 606.
This leader ensures there is a “single source of truth” when it comes to both statutory and SaaS reporting. SaaS reporting is used to derive unit economics to determine the profitability and scalability of a SaaS business. Key metrics include ARR, gross margin, CAC and CAC payback, ACV and TCV, gross and net retention.
Before raising an institutional Series A round, a startup should ensure there are scalable people and data systems in place for cash, controls, and SaaS metrics in order to reduce survival risk and make better, faster decisions.
Growth planning & business reporting
Integrated, distributed annual budget as well as monthly & quarterly forecasts
Management reporting to support revenue visibility & growth planning
Sets operating cadence and operational reporting requirements
Supported by Head of Finance or Financial Controller, and work very closely with Revenue Operations and Data & Business Intelligence Analyst(s)
High growth scale-up operator or ex-banker with SaaS and (ideally) M&A and Corporate Development experience
Strong communicator experienced in managing multi-stakeholders, including being a trusted business partner for go-to-market leaders
Results-driven, “can do” attitude to lead and affect change
Enables a data-centric, high performance culture of accountability and agility
VP of Finance
Enabling revenue visibility across the business
Once data integrity is in place, a business can then derive valuable insights to inform go-to market decisions and build an integrated growth plan. In a mature business, there is typically a team of Financial Planning & Analysis (“FP&A”) professionals who specialize in Software and SaaS businesses. They can speak the same language as their counterparts in other business functions.
This leader is responsible for business intelligence and reporting, setting the operating cadence, and leading monthly and quarterly forecasting as well as annual budgeting. Someone who can effect significant change and be a valued business partner.
The VP of Finance is critical in ensuring successful scaling for a global Series B business. This professional ensures there is a right balance between growth experimentation and business predictability.
Go-to-market & funding
Funding, capital markets, and investor relations including Board reporting and management
Reduce business survival risk while maximize funding options to grow. Create a balance between flexibility and cost of financial capital
Evaluates and leads organic and inorganic growth options
Lead Finance and Operations team which may include HR and Legal
Scale-up operator trained by a strategic growth CFO or ex-SaaS investment professional
Able to “zoom in, zoom out” quickly on market, customers, competition, talent, and investors
Strong and effective communicator at the Management and Board level
Lead organizational design, performance management, fundraising, M&A and corporate development, exit
Aligning go-to-market with funding
The fragmented SaaS industry is complex, competitive, and fast-paced – but so are financial services and the capital markets that fund them. Deep understanding of different types of investors and forms of financing are required to balance flexibility versus cost of capital for a high growth business.
This leader is a strong communicator and manager of multiple stakeholders; capable of telling a compelling story and leading a structured process during a fundraise, acquisition or exit of a business. A Modern CFO has seen the transition of on-premise, hybrid, and Cloud-based businesses across sectors through multiple stages of growth and economic cycles.
Combining this experience with SaaS go-to market expertise enables the CFO to align organizational design with the expectations of investors & lenders in order to optimize business growth optionality.