Whilst looking ahead to the 2018 FDs’ Excellence Awards, we caught up with last year’s winner Brian McArthur-Muscroft, CFO & Executive Director at Paysafe. We asked him a few questions about his experience, achievements, and challenges …
What do you believe are the key attributes of a good FD?
The role of the CFO is constantly changing and one thing is for certain – CFOs cannot rely solely on their ability to produce accurate financial statements and run the finance function. That is now a given.
The role has evolved to become much more commercial and forward-looking. Today’s CFOs must be able to articulate the company strategy, work with a multitude of internal stakeholders, while running the business efficiently using appropriate internal KPIs. They are expected to be true partners to the CEO, and to be able to present the business to the potential investor base while managing the raising of equity or debt capital. The CFO, has to be seen as credible and trustworthy by stakeholders in the business and an articulate spokesperson. Internally, it’s important for CFOs to ensure they are communicating well across the entire organisation to equip employees with the knowledge they need on their employer’s financial performance.
What achievements are you proudest of when it comes to your time as FD of Paysafe?
I joined the Group in 2015, which was a transformational year for the company: we doubled the size of the business through the acquisition of Skrill and to fund the deal, we successfully executed the largest ever rights issue on the London Stock Exchange AIM market and raised over $0.5 billion in debt.
We also renamed the combined business to Paysafe, rapidly integrated the Skrill acquisition and we ended 2015 by moving our stock market listing to the Main Board of the London Stock Exchange.
We issued two 300+ page financial prospectuses in the year, one for the share issue and one for the move to main market. The latter involved careful due diligence of our business by the listing authority, in order to satisfy the UKLA that we adhered to the more stringent main market regulations.
In 2016, we joined the FTSE 250 index of leading companies, and we achieved $1 billion of revenue for the first time and significantly increased EBITDA to $300 million. In 2016 we also completed two North American acquisitions, and the generated over $50 million of savings arising from the 2015 Skrill acquisition due to the integration being completed ahead of schedule.
Two and a half years ago our equivalent share price was £1.97. In June 2017, we received an offer three times this at 590p per share from Blackstone and CVC to acquire the entire business. In September, our shareholders voted to accept the offer and the acquisition closed in December last year.
So, it is safe to say that things have been and will continue to be busy as we focus on firming our Group priorities and strategy now as a private company. Clearly these were all big opportunities for our company, and although it was challenging at times, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far.
What is your biggest challenge currently?
We’re always on the look-out for good investment opportunities, and it is no secret that as a company we constantly seek bold M&A opportunities that add strategic value to our business.
Over the years, through the various acquisitions we’ve made, we have increased our portfolio to become the go-to payments provider for businesses and consumers, with an unrivalled scope of payments solutions which is continually evolving. Nonetheless, acquisitive companies like ours are often faced with the challenge of integrating the acquired businesses from an organisational, technological and brand perspective. For a global company like Paysafe, to successfully integrate these businesses we need take into consideration geographical and cultural differences to ensure we meet the needs of our employees and customers. Reaching these milestones is no walk in the park, but with the strong teams we have onboard, we’ve been able to make great progress.
At the same time, the financial services sector is constantly evolving, and the tightening regulatory environment coupled with heightened KYC (know your customer) requirements remain a big focus for our business for this year and beyond.
What would you say has been your biggest mistake / regret?
It’s a tough question because there are so many to choose from. One that stands out as it has stayed with me for a long time, is that after university I turned down the opportunity to work for a year as a ski instructor because I was too keen to dive into a career, in my case in Finance. On reflection, I wish I had done it because the ability to work with different people and learn some of the skills that teachers need to have to carry out their jobs, perhaps patience in particular, would have helped me to broaden myself in the early stages of my career, and of course, it would have also been a great life experience.
How do you see technology impacting the finance function and the role of FD?
At every corner we’re surrounded by technology. In the office or at home, whether we’re working or resting, technology is deeply embedded in our lives and what we do. From a business perspective, tech developments impact how companies operate and perform, and that includes the finance function. A large number of FDs already understand that digital technologies are changing the way the finance function operates which is an important step forward.
Advancements in software and automation are increasingly allowing finance directors to create cost-effective business strategies. Another key trend that has impacted the finance function is the use of fully integrated and modular systems that consolidate processes and enable FDs to have a more transparent overview of their financial performance.
I also envision the blockchain technology revolutionising the finance function, with its ability to simplify payment processes. By using a public ledger, blockchain enables users to build authorised, peer-to-peer networks consisting of trusted partners who control assets, and are able to issue or transfer payments quickly.
At Paysafe, technology is central to how we operate. Tech-savvy companies that capitalise on innovative digital solutions can increase financial transparency and have a more comprehensive overview of performance.
We’re welcoming entries for the 2018 FDs’ Excellence Awards until Friday 23rd March. It’s free to enter and takes just a few minutes to complete, so be sure to nominate yourself or a colleague.