CFO Forum 2022
At Oakley Capital, we consider the CFOs of our portfolio companies critical partners in our goal to create long-term, sustainable value.
We recently gathered finance leaders from across our portfolio, meeting in London to debate key issues, share experiences and network.
From executing M&A effectively, to identifying- and pulling- the key levers to accelerate growth, to leveraging ESG, our CFO Forum is a key part of our Portfolio Company programme, empowering and supporting our finance leaders to deliver on their strategic goals.
You can create value by improving employee lifetime value and unlocking the potential of your staff. This is critical when you are a high-growth business and need to scale up fast. We do this by industrialising the hiring process, running our recruitment function like a sales team with appropriate targets and incentives. We shorten the hire time, we onboard new starters faster, and we increase performance by training. After all, with 10,000 corporate partners we are specialists in helping professionals to upskill! Lastly, we incentivise employees to retain them and stay longer with IU Group. We also embrace data-driven performance management across the cycle, from entrance tests for interviewees to OKRS (‘objectives and key results, a collaborative goal-setting methodology), six month reviews and pulse checks.
Panel Q&A: Ash Kashyap
Ash Kashyap has 20 years’ experience of successful M&A under his belt, and has completed 60+ bolt-on acquisitions as CFO of Dexters, London’s leading estate agent, including the company’s transformative acquisition of digital lettings agency Howsy.
Understand the founder’s motivation- why are they selling their business and what do they care about? If you can address their key concerns- what will happen to their employees, landlords, to the business they have spent years creating- and show you will be a good custodian, that will help seal the deal. Oakley’s support has been critical, in terms of lending us buying power, challenging us to look at M&A opportunities outside of our normal comfort zone and then offering their tech expertise: at first glance, Howsy threatened to disrupt our entire people-first, bricks and mortar business model. Folding it into Dexters is helping to future-proof the business- critical insight that the investment team provided. Buying is the easy bit. Integration and regular review is key to success. Introduce a loyalty bonus for key staff; get buy-in for future plans and strategic vision; tackle cultural differences up front.
Panel Q&A: Henning Rönneberg
Ensuring that senior management have the right data and KPIs at their fingertips and in a timely manner is crucial to underpinning strategic decision making. Henning Rönneberg is CFO of ParshipMeet Group, former Oakley Capital portfolio company (3.6x MM return) and one of the leading international players in Dating and Video.
Monthly reporting packs might seem tedious, but they are very important: they can be used to align within your management team, to get clarity on priorities and key messages, they are a major investor relations instrument, and they will be a key source of information during the exit process when disclosed during due diligence. Keep the structure of your board package and KPI presentation consistent – it allows Board members to process the information easily. And keep in mind to focus on the operational update, outlook, strategy and projects.
Panel Q&A: Aga Siemiginowska
Oakley considers ESG as a critical tool to mitigate risk and underpin sustainable value creation across our investment portfolio. Oakley’s Head of Sustainability, Aga Siemiginowska, sees our CFOs as key allies in delivering our ESG priorities.
We have identified three themes to monitor and manage across our portfolio companies and Oakley itself: energy & climate change, EDI, and cybersecurity and data protection. Key to this initiative is developing a list of core ESG KPIs and then helping our companies to develop their reporting capabilities. Our CFOs are often responsible for overseeing this data collection, and are beginning to see how ESG is not a standalone topic, but rather one that touches on all facets of good business practices. Our approach aims to ensure that ESG is seen as good operational practice during the ownership phase, that will lead to continued and sustainable value creation long after we have exited.