I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Future of Finance and CFO Summit at the stunning Hurlingham Club, London this week.
It was a glitzy affair with a celebratory atmosphere and many innovations on display (we even saw the new Tesla car “dance” to its own music) and behind the confident presentations and project headlines, there was a simple message…
We are all in startup mode and that is exciting!

Written by Chris Argent, Founder, Generation CFO
And that is true, no matter how big and mature your finance team is, as we are all in startup mode when it comes to embracing the future of finance, new ideas, new skills, new robot workmates, new decision automation, the lot!
This really dawned on me, when listening to Gousto’s Sally Matthews poised delivery on the difference between her Corporate days and Startup days (or the tanker versus speedboat approach) and what each organisation can learn from each other.
Her top ten tips chimed with me as someone who has almost exclusively worked in “startup” project teams within big Corporates (working to establish people, process and operational effectiveness in finance BI and Analytics team) where speed and agility are the lifeblood of your delivery.
Sally wasn’t bashing one way or the other, but she was saying that only certain finance people would enjoy startup mode, and her advice is food for thought as technology starting to impact finance, and we are expected to embrace new ways of working, new tech, a new value propositions, and fast.
The future is different but exciting!
I list Sally’s tips below, but what I took away from her session was we need to ignore our job titles, lose our gatekeeper bias, challenge our attitude towards failure and take a more balanced approach focused on speed, agility and value constantly.
Sitting tight in controller roles, expelling the virtues of compliance and cost saving and see that as value-adding was no longer our “go to” and would only lead to irrelevance or worse, the door… (my words, not hers).
So I encourage everyone to embrace the data, automation, Analytics, AI journey we are all on and get excited about it.
Yes, it is new and it will require new learning and change, but if you can embrace your startup mode I am sure your first project will be a success and they’ll be much more success to follow that.
Sally’s Top Ten Tips

  1. Don’t wait for the OK
  2. Act fast, test and learn, implement fast
  3. Prioritisation is critical
  4. Meeting with outputs, not actions
  5. It’s a team event (think relationships)
  6. You are not alone (use peer networks like Generation CFO)
  7. Steal with pride and share generously (People + Pass it on = Everyone benefits)
  8. Hire for culture first
  9. Hire ahead of the curve
  10. Constantly reinvent everything
  11. Bonus – Be a leader, by using the above.