Group CFO Colin Webster was recently interviewed by Modrus to discuss his role, how tech has changed the business in the last 5 years and how he almost became a fighter pilot. An excerpt from the interview is below and can be found in full on the Modrus website.
What is your favourite piece of technology?
ApplePay on the iPhone is my favourite piece of technology right now – I love the abandonment of the wallet.
Tell us about your role at The FISER Group – what is the typical day in Colin’s life?
As co-founder and CFO at The FISER Group I obviously do all the activities expected of a CFO but in a 50 person business the CFO mandate is reasonably small so I do all the funnel lines that traditionally report into CFO – finance, IT, all the administration parts of the business, marketing, HR, Legal.
As a small business much of it I do myself and where I’m not skilled up e.g. marketing we have specialist resources. I also manage the IT outsourced relationship and have a small finance team to help do the day to day.
I spend 25% of my time on strategy related activities e.g. where are we investing money to grow the business and I also oversee a couple of clients.
What are the general business challenges and opportunities facing The FISER Group?
We launched our consulting arm – IBAM Consulting – just over 2 years ago and in that time we’ve seen phenomenal change in the traditional consulting model in our favour. Whilst it was potentially a risk for us to enter this overly saturated market, we recognised there was an opportunity for someone offering something different. Diversifying and responding to the market is critical in this business and is always both a challenge and an opportunity.
One of the significant challenges we are starting to see is the disruptive influence of FinTech – where we are seeing a lot of traditionally human driven processes being gradually automated within the banking world. Clearly disruptive technology affects every sector and now it is the turn of financial services.
Again for us this is both a challenge and an opportunity, as more jobs become automated and we develop our FinTech client base so that we can supply people into those businesses who are in turn supplying the services for the banks to operate.
How has technology changed the business in the last 3 years?
It’s largely the evolution of social media and the use of Big Data that are having the most impact, with the result that recruitment is more strategic, personalised, and targeted than ever. We are also seeing an awful lot more use of mobile as the channel of choice for job seekers. Ten years ago as a recruitment consultant you’d be on the landline 5 out of 8 hours a day, now we are led by what the most effective approach is for each target audience, whether that is social media, content marketing, skype etc.
What technology solutions are you looking to implement in the near future?
Our strategy is to evolve what we have and our phone system which only accounts for 10% of our communication needs these days it is a little bit outdated so we are refreshing it.
One of the things we are doing is abandoning telephone handsets. Everyone will have a Bluetooth headset and they’ll use their smart phone with their app on it which will act as their extension and they’ll have their desktop app as well – so why have another piece of kit cluttering your desk.
This is not a critical evolution it is just recognising that old technology like a traditional landline telephone are increasingly redundant.
If you weren’t going to be a CFO what was your Plan B?
That is a really simple question to answer because I knew exactly what I wanted to be. When at school I was more gifted on the maths and science, I sailed through that and did engineering at University. At Uni I signed up with the RAF to become a fighter pilot, my dream was to fly the skies protecting the UK. Unfortunately they discovered my eye sight was dodgy and at 18 found my dreams dashed!
So with my dreams blown I ended up becoming an accountant!