There's a lot of opportunity for early finance hires to make their mark in the business. We’ve crowdsourced CFO insights from top finance leaders across APAC to bring you their best advice.
Alex Millar, CPA
September 1, 2021
Early finance hires oversees the end-to-end financial processes at a startup. CFO leadership befalls you. You’re in charge of designing financial processes, cash flow, reporting, and tax at your new company. We’ve crowdsourced CFO insights from top finance leaders who’ve worked in early-stage companies to bring you their best advice. Here are 6 tips for early-finance hires, featuring Warwick Donaldson at Nutromics and Iva Charlopova at Brighte.
Communication is key
A big part of CFO leadership is being able to communicate well. Make it a principle to over-communicate with your team and ensure everyone is on the same page. Get context about specific asks to make sure you’re providing solutions that will solve the root of the problem. If you work remotely, hop on a short call and answer any questions then and there. Being an early finance hire doesn’t only mean doing the necessary financial tasks. You should take on CFO leadership responsibilities.
Here’s a recommendation for CFOs from Iva Charlopova, Senior Finance Manager at Brighte:
Don't wait until something is perfect before asking for feedback. Communicate clearly and often to make sure you're focusing on the right priority. You can waste a lot of time (and go totally in the wrong direction) - Iva Charlopova, Senior Finance Manager at Brighte
Build relationships with startup finance professionals
Leverage your professional network and peers in similar startup ecosystems. Speak to founders, investors, and fellow finance professionals. If you're looking for a space to connect with other startup finance leaders, consider joining our Finance in Tech community. Our network of 700+ finance leaders provides crowdsourced answers to accounting and non-accounting questions. They can provide CFO insights and leadership advice.
Beware of New Broom Syndrome
Jumping in without all the information may cause bigger problems down the road. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the existing systems but beware of ripping out a process prematurely. Be respectful of your predecessor's work. After understanding the business and analysing its functions, then proceed with changing pre-established procedures. Discuss changes with management and other stakeholders.
Here’s a CFO insight from Warwick Donaldson, Head of Finance at Nutromics:
Draw on the breadth of experience of colleagues, contractors and outsourced functions (like your accountant and bookkeeper) to help you navigate your first finance leadership role. - Warwick Donaldson, Finance, Operations and Investor Relations at Nutromics
Set realistic expectations
As an early finance hire, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the volume of work. Be clear on what you can realistically achieve. Understand what you can do given your time, budget, and resources. Communicate this to your team, so you can get the relevant support. Knowing what you can realistically achieve is a big part of CFO leadership.
Delegate where you can
Be comfortable asking for more hands-on-deck. Let your CEO know, and work together to reach a viable solution. This may mean negotiating a budget for more finance hires or outsourcing work.
There's a lot of opportunity for early finance hires to make their mark in the business. To ensure that you're doing the best job you can for your team, keep these CFO insights at the forefront of your mind. Want more tips like these? Join our Finance in Tech community. Connect with 700+ finance leaders working across APAC’s top startup and tech companies.