Lourandi Kriel, CFO Fintech: Carving out her own role
Within the financial services arena, Fintech is a name to watch closely - and in the past couple of years the company has proved its growth in leaps and bounds. CFO South Africa recently visited the company’s CFO, Lourandi Kriel and CEO Glen Christopulo, also a CA, at its Johannesburg offices – to discuss how their leadership abilities and styles have shaped the evolution of the company.
From its beginnings offering rental finance options for office automation, Fintech has expanded to offer equipment finance solutions across a broad spectrum of industry sectors. Key to its success has been the ability of Kriel to diversify the company’s knowledge base, in order to become experts across different industries.
Kriel started her accountancy career at PwC and auditing was always her interest – but she believed that her passions may lie beyond this. "As an auditor I met a lot of Finance Directors and really wanted to do what they were doing” she says. Her drive and PwC-background equipped Kriel to go on to become an accomplished CA and a successful leader.
“The responsibility to define his or her own role lies with the CFO,” says Kriel. “I really believe every Chief Financial Officer needs to tell the CEO what kind of CFO they want to be. As a CFO you have to see where you want to get involved, where you can best make a difference.”
Kriel devotes the majority of her time to analysis and strategy development – aspects of the job that most financial leaders strive to accomplish but few achieve.
“Of course it is not always possible to spend time on strategy. During certain times of the year, like financial year-end, you might have to work 14-16 hours a day just doing the basics,” she says.
"If you are young, you need to bring a lot of energy, you have to work hard, you can’t expect to work eight hours a day and get to the top," says Christopulo. “Now I am more experienced and can manage my time a lot better - but in the beginning it's just about hard work and people management.”
The current business landscape means that professionals are functioning within limited time constraints and tight deadlines, and a good CFO works with their team in order to meet deadlines. Both Kriel and Christopulo agree that high quality interaction with the whole team is at the core of a successful business.
Undeniably, Kriel is proof that more than ever before, the CFO not only has to be a knowledge seeker; he or she has to take the time to share this knowledge with staff and transfer skills.
“You can never blame your team, because staff is the manager’s responsibility, not that of HR,” says Christopulo.
"When you develop a strategy, you need to take the time, right up front, to make sure people understand what is required of them in the implementation of the strategy," he says. "Furthermore you need to ensure that people have the correct skills for this. Skills can be transferred within departments and that is the leader’s responsibility. And of course beyond skills and experience, you need to make sure your team comprises the right personalities and fit.”
As Kriel says: “During our hiring process at Fintech we often find that the best CAs come from the big four auditing firms, because they force attention to detail, and they have money to send their clerks on training. Often a person with ambition eventually leaves the big four firm, following career growth opportunities."
Fintech tailor-makes finance packages to suit client needs, in line with their respective industry. About half of Fintech’s business is related to office automation equipment rental, but this percentage has decreased a lot in recent years. This is why, as Kriel emphasises, agility and stealth has always been key for Fintech, which currently has 72 staff members.
“At Fintech we can get new business on board within a week,” says Kriel.
"Today our independence means we can provide value to more than 10,000 businesses," says Christopulo, "Office automation is still the core, but we have branched out in to other small ticket rentals. Anything you see in an office, we provide rental solutions for, including office fit-outs. We also do yellow metal construction vehicles and even medical equipment. We work with other rental companies too, offering a similar service to a bank, but with greater flexibility and industry insight."
Finally Kriel notes the importance of shared responsibility: “Once all the pieces are in the right place, success is about making sure everyone is playing their part effectively. If you can’t delegate, you haven’t spent enough time training your people,” she concludes.
If you also would like to share your ideas with the CFO community, you want to be part of the leading CFO South Africa Community or you want to know more about hosting a CFO South Africa event, you are most welcome to get in touch with CFO SA. Please contact Jurriën Morsch at [email protected]
Stay connected, up to date and in the loop on what is happening in the world of finance by becoming an online member to receive ournewsletter and following us on Twitter. Also to keep track of newly published interviews with CFOs and CEOs.