Q&A session with Henry Pepperall, CFO, Exponential-e

Ahead of his presentation at the FD Surgery London 2018, Henry Pepperall, CFO at Exponential-e joined us for a Q&A session on innovation in the finance function . . .

What role do you think a finance director should play in fostering innovation culture within a business?

Firstly, be in the room when the conversations happen, and help convert good conversation into measurable outcomes.

Secondly, be supportive and help drive investment decisions, on a perennial basis, that can achieve two things:

  1. Expand the existing product & service portfolio & differentiate it
  2. Improve productivity – i.e. do more with less

Is there sometimes a perception that innovation and the finance function are at odds when it comes to appetite for risk? How do you balance innovation with effective risk management?

Poor FDs have created this misconception, and these are the ones that are not invited into the room, as others perceive “they don’t get it”. A good finance leader should be perfectly aligned with the best interests of shareholders. Of course, risk / reward considerations should be front of mind for all board members, in their quest to both protect and maximise shareholder value. FDs don’t have a monopoly on the risk agenda.

What do you consider to have been your greatest success, at Exponential-e, when it comes to fostering innovation culture?

Being part of our recent leadership team, two-day offsite strategic planning session, and from this creating a new business plan that incorporates investment initiatives that will create real innovation, with collective responsibility for delivery.

Do you believe that the finance function should also be innovative? In what ways?

Yes, in many ways, for example providing innovation in:

  • Value-added services to external customers such as billing & finance solutions
  • Value-added services to internal customers, dashboards, data analytics & providing new commercial insights
  • Business planning process
  • Productivity frameworks

How do you see technology impacting the finance function and the role of the FD?

Finance need to support and embrace digital transformation, and become more productive.

Satisfy demands from internal customers, for dynamic data, and for finance to orchestrate “one version of the truth”, in a format which can be consumed easily & accessed from mobile devices.

Henry will be presenting ‘The FD and Innovation Culture’ with Helen Gammons, Financial Director (Co-Owner) at Rotolight and Simon Gretton, Chief Financial Officer at A Gomez on 1st May 2018 at the FD Surgery London.

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