#110: Finance as a Passport to Wearing Many Hats

with Ed Harding

Our Guest Mentor:

Ed Harding is internationally mobile Interim who has operated across Europe and Asia. Ed qualified as a Chartered Accountant (2000) and has two decades of leading companies through complex situations including crisis, transformation, turnaround and M&A. His Interim CXO assignments have addressed cost reduction, scaling for exponential growth, restructuring the change agenda, strategic and financial planning, launching new brands, risk management, talent strategies, acquisitions, divestment and transformation (finance, business, regulatory and service culture).

Ed is also a Mentor to The Mayor of London’s International Business Programme and Vice-Chairman of The Investment Business Committee (Professional Standards) at Institute of Chartered Accountants England & Wales.

Ed also lives in Brighton, England with his family.

Key Quotes From the Episode:

“[On his ability to wear many hats] I’ve found it quite easy to see the overall picture of a business because in the past I’ve had to build a financial picture for them for my client out of these [receipts & invoices] in shoeboxes. I’ve never lost the interest in doing that and I’ve never lost the ability to dig into stuff and take what looks quite complicated and turning it into something quite simple.” [05:38]

“[On the usefulness of a finance qualification]… but Finance is an incredible passport if you qualify as an accountant.” [06:01]

“[On convincing others you’re right for the role] You are always the best seller of yourself.” [08:58]

“[On Intelligent Simplicity] What we’re good at is going into other areas of the business and dive into the details with the experts of the business, the people who run the business, and I help them remove some of the clutter that has built up around the outside of their core processes and their core business. And then in doing that you get the core essence of the business that you can then grow and transform. It’s very difficult to transform something that is messy, it is very easy to transform something that is clean, because you can see what it is you can change, your from state is much easier. When you look at the younger businesses like AirBnB, Uber, etc… these exponential growth businesses they have no legacy thinking, so it’s very easy for them to grow quickly and that’s why it is so hard for the incumbent businesses to change, so I’m looking at all areas of friction in these big companies so I can close the gap between them and these exponential organisations, so really it’s growing with intelligent simplicity.” [14:30]

“[On the importance of volunteering] Nobody buys something that is untested.” [17:40]

“[On living with complexity] We’re moving from this period of people living with this huge complexity and CFOs are effectively optimising existing models the best they can to a budget or rationed capital and I think we’re going to be moving to an age where the CFO is going to be a data opportunist. The future CFO in my eyes is someone who doesn’t just looks after the financial numbers but becomes the guardian data generally in the organisation.” [23:15]

 (Other resources and how to connect with Ed below).

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Key Points From the Episode:

  • Ed shares how he has constructed his career story into 4 pillars to make it an easier job to sell his value to potential recruiters.
  • Why volunteering is important and Ed’s story behind the learnings involved with being the chief financial geek for the incubator Hack Forward.
  • Ed introduces and deconstructs the idea of intelligent simplicity
  • Ed deconstructs the biggest challenges of stepping out of Finance into non-Finance related roles.

Time Stamped Show Notes

[03:03] – Ed shares his fascinating journey from being an auditor in practice, setting up a corporate financing arm, setting up an Internet bank in London, FP&A wealth management in Zurich, turning around performance as the CFO of a well-known private bank, selling banks in Asia during the financial crisis, getting financial services company ready for IPO, running Largest owner-occupied hotel chain as CFO and CEO, running a tech fund, insurance company, other roles as an interim, plus his two constants being vice-chair for professional standards at the ICAEW and mentor for the Mayor of London’s international growth program.

[05:12] – Ho Ed leveraged his training to improve his ability to wear so many hats.

[06:56] – Ed deconstructs the biggest challenges of stepping out of Finance into non-Finance related roles.

[07:32] – The difficulties of being a generalist into what is essentially a specialist market.

[08:57] – Ed shares how he has constructed his career story into 4 pillars to make it an easier job to sell his value to potential recruiters.

[12:00] – The importance of creating support systems to help you identify who you are and what people value as well as how to mark yourself to your perception in the market / business and get 50 genuine recommendations on LinkedIn.

[13:40] – Why there’s a gap between consultants and practitioners (operators).

[14:29] – Ed introduces and deconstructs the idea of intelligent simplicity.

[15:55] – What’s exciting Ed most about his current work.

[16:59] – How to get involved helping the next generation of start-ups and he shares the story of working with a music gaming business with some family members of U2.

[17:40] – Why volunteering is important and Ed’s story behind the learnings involved with being the chief financial geek for the incubator Hack Forward

[23:00] – Ed gives us an insight into one of his upcoming AICPA-CIMA conference presentations on the “DNA of the Future CFO”.

[23:54] – Why the CFO will be the steward of all data and the importance of learning the art and science of Finance.

[26:05] – Ed goes into the fascinating world of deconstructing the business model of hotels.

[29:40] – The best bit of advice Ed has ever received particularly if you’re leading people.

[30:45] – The resources Ed recommends finance professionals check out and why.

[32:07] – How best to connect with Ed.

[32:56] – Ed’s parting thoughts and why we should stay close to our institutes.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it), by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone, Yuri van Geest,
  • Investopedia (website)
  • Strength in the Numbers Show (podcast)
  • DNA of CFO of the Future (link)

Connect with today’s guest:

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