Chief financial officers have a lot on their plate — from ensuring an entire company is financially viable to managing activities that make that company not only efficient but also profitable.
A day in the life of the CFO in 2016 looks drastically different from just five or 10 years ago. With a significant shift away from manual processes and the onset of new technologies, a CFO’s responsibilities have broadened to encompass more than simply managing the P&L.
Billtrust CFO Ed Jordan sat down with PYMNTS to discuss the challenges facing CFOs today and why, now more than ever, keeping strategic thinking at the forefront is so crucial.
PYMNTS: What does a day in the life of a CFO look like?
EJ: A CFO’s day is a bit unpredictable. I typically start off with a list of things that need to be accomplished — from corporate financial matters, to managing a broad group of people beyond the finance team, to HR, administration and operations. Then, other challenges pop up — from interfacing with the sales team on customer contracts and pricing, to real-time decisions with HR. There’s a balance between having to manage the departments you’re responsible for and finding time to be strategic.
PYMNTS: What is the most difficult part of your job, and why?
EJ: Finding ways to improve efficiencies and build processes that scale. Manual processes are hard to scale, expensive and can be error-prone, so the answer has to be better systems and automation. I challenge my team daily for process improvements and ways to drive manual processes out of the organization.
PYMNTS: What keeps you up at night?
EJ: The work day just isn’t long enough, and there are still issues that are unresolved when I leave for the night. I spend most of my day managing tactical, on-the-ground activities and spend the nighttime thinking more strategically.
PYMNTS: What do you wish you had more time to do?
EJ: Think strategically. We just instituted “No Meeting Tuesdays” that’s modeled after Google’s 80/20 rule. I try to find time throughout the week, but always on Tuesdays, I dedicate a full day to strategy.
PYMNTS: What is the biggest misperception about your role?
EJ: There’s a big misconception that, as CFOs, all we do is pay bills, collect money and publish financial statements. The CFO’s role has evolved into becoming a thought leader for the company across a variety of areas, including pricing, customer needs and concerns, risk management and process improvements.
PYMNTS: What is the one thing that has changed how you do your job over the last two years?
EJ: The industry has really evolved to focus heavily on automation and outsourcing finance and A/R functions. Billtrust has really embraced the digitalization era by automating and moving away from spreadsheets and licensed on-premise solutions. We now use cloud-based hosted solutions for most of our finance functions, including ERP, budgeting, planning, procurement and AP workflow. We use our own cloud-based Payment Cycle Management solutions for print and electronic invoice distribution, electronic payment processing and cash application processing from our lockbox.
PYMNTS: What is the tradeoff between making procurement more efficient and automated and losing the opportunity to build personal relationships in a less automated approach?
EJ: It really depends on the CFO. I still invest the time to have personal relationships with our vendors. However, automating the procurement process has made it more efficient and easier to get better pricing, while streamlining the full end-to-end process.
PYMNTS: Does your job bleed into your personal life? I.e., do you find yourself attempting to negotiate deals at restaurants or the hardware store?
EJ: Whenever I’m out to dinner with my family and l see a bottle of wine on the wine list that’s a bit overpriced, I’ll immediately try to negotiate a lower price with the sommelier. I can’t pass up a good value on wine! It works about 25 percent of the time.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chief Financial Officer of Billtrust
Ed leads the finance and administration functions for Billtrust. His experiences include over 30 years of working as a public and private company CFO. Before starting at Billtrust, Ed served as CEO of JAGTAG, a mobile technology company, CFO at Flarion Technologies (later was sold to Qualcomm), cofounder and CFO of ITXC Corporation and CFO of Dialogic Corporation (sold to Intel). Ed also has extensive experience in the international technology markets with a specific emphasis on Brazil.
Ed’s accomplishments include guiding private companies through private and public equity offerings, mergers and acquisitions and the development of financial strategies for growth.
He is a certified public accountant, and his experience includes working for Deloitte. In 2002, the New Jersey Technology Council named him “CFO of the Year.” Ed received his B.S. in Accounting from Lehigh University.