CFO Riaan Verbeek on embracing technology and doing business unusual

Riaan believes businesses that offer an unforgettable and authentic service experience will thrive.

When Covid-19 hit our shores, many businesses were unprepared operationally for the “new norm” of working, says Riaan Verbeek, Momentum Consult’s CFO and COO. Luckily, Momentum Consult was ahead of the curve.

“The foundations for our digital operations were already in place before hard lockdown in March 2020,” says Riaan. “So our operations at head office and advisers’ offices were ready to go.”

As the world continues to grapple with the harsh reality of the pandemic, businesses are battling to keep their doors open, and the financial services sector has not been spared. “The biggest challenge we face is client retention,” says Riaan. “We’ve seen brand loyalty decrease considerably due to lack of face-to-face interactions.” He adds that clients are also rethinking the value of brand loyalty as opposed to the quality/value of the product or service offering.

Despite this, he says Momentum Consult has seen record months of investment inflows. “This leads me to believe that clients are now more focused on trying to save money for rainy days, even in this tough environment.”

However, he says this is obviously not true for everyone, given recent job losses and reduced income for some. “Saving is not a priority for many people who are just trying to survive.”

Riaan believes businesses that will thrive are those that will offer an unforgettable and authentic service experience, coupled with a differentiated product or service offering, because so many have been forced to evaluate what works. “The understanding of this concept, and ultimately catering to these clients’ needs, will separate winners from losers.”

To this end, Momentum Consult has put solutions in place to mitigate against the risk of Covid-19 for both its clients and business sustainability.

“Building on our digital and tech capabilities, as well as prudent financial management are key focus areas in our business operations,” he says, while for clients, he says the value lies in getting the basics right – proper financial planning and sticking to that plan.

Riaan says he has found out just how important it is to build meaningful relationships and connections with people, especially in difficult times. He notes that people are resilient and dedicated, as seen from his team’s hard work and dedication over the past months.

Conversations with people
A chartered accountant, Riaan describes himself as an ordinary person with over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. He has held the CFO position since August 2014, and was appointed to the COO position in addition to the CFO role in October 2019.

He says that drinking coffee keeps him awake at night, along with playing difficult conversations out in his head, and thinking of ways to grow the business in the face of challenges. “Increasing regulatory compliance is also a necessary cause for worry. This is to protect the interests of the financial services provider, adviser and client.”

Riaan has found out just how important it is to build meaningful relationships and connections with people especially in difficult times. “It’s important to genuinely care about the wellbeing of others.”

People are resilient and dedicated, as seen from his teams’ hard work and dedication over the past months. “I have learnt to be flexible and adaptable to a changing business environment, realising that nothing is permanent,” he says.

Downtime
Riaan describes himself as a family man, and his wife and daughter value the time they spend together, either playing games or watching a favourite television series.

Listening to music calms him, and he also plays the piano, guitar and sings at church. Casual mountain biking fulfils his need for exercising outdoors.
Riaan is creative, and a DIY enthusiast. He loves fixing things and has even built a chicken coop for his daughter’s chickens.