Along his path to the CFO office at technology firm Trintech, Omar Choucair’s segue from radio to high tech was among his most consequential career transitions.
“There were not a lot of radio companies based in Dallas, Texas, at the time, and there was this young but growing tech company. While it was a calculated risk on my part, I liked the people, and the executives were hard-charging, which I also liked,” says Choucair, when asked to recall some of the decision-making behind his leap to the high-tech realm.
Today, as Trintech’s finance leader, Choucair has a list of CFO priorities that includes making performance measures more accessible across the organization.
When it comes to Trintech’s approach to FP&A, Choucair is typically analytical: “I think that the bones are there and the data are there, but the difficult part lies in organizing the FP&A team around the question of how we get this put together into a form that people can really look at and use to make decisions.”
Choucair says that he wants people to second-guess the factors currently driving performance and that they should be routinely asking the question, “Why did this happen last week or last month versus three months ago?”
One recent development that is helping to energize performance measurement at Trintech as well as across the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) realm is the broadening publication of KPIs.
“Today, versus a couple of years ago, we now have many of these public companies publishing their KPIs through their Investor Day presentation decks or their 10-K and 10-Q financial filing disclosures. So there's a lot of information that we can now mine in order to track how we’re doing when compared to everybody else,” explains Choucair.
CFOTL: Tell us about your experiences inside the high tech industry?
Choucair: Trintech is my third technology company as CFO. Immediately before this, I was with a software company that was another private equity–backed firm that sold digital advertising on a subscription basis. We had a platform that was a B2B play and very competitive with a lot of the other technology companies that were selling into B2B with marketers all across the U.S. Before that, my first CFO opportunity was with a technology software company that distributed TV commercials and other short-term content on behalf of advertisers and marketers to television stations and cable outlets. So, I’ve been in an interesting space in that I’ve been in three different technology companies and the last two were SaaS. The first one was software, but it was sold by the drink.
I think that what’s interesting about this business is that there’s a significant opportunity on the large enterprise side. The office of the CFO has changed tremendously in the sense that there are so many different applications that you can bring to automate a lot of the functions, whether it’s your financial planning, your tax compliance, and so forth. It could be your payroll; it could be your travel; it could be your HR. With all of these additional SaaS-based applications today, maybe only a third or 25% of them were even available two or three years ago. In terms of where we think we are today, we think that we’re in the second or third inning of what we can do with the office of the CFO in terms of automating and creating this ROI for CFOs and automating the way that they close the books.