Fiona Tee joined Currency Cloud as CFO in April this year, to oversee finance, human resources, compliance (risk and regulatory) and operations. Over the course of her 30 year career, she has built up experience across the financial services, telecoms and tech sectors. Previous roles include CFO at Mondex International, from the inception of digital payment innovation, and CFO at Intelligent Environments Europe, a market leader in mobile and online banking solutions. Early on in her career, she co-founded a successful technology company, and she loves the working culture and opportunity to do things differently that comes with being part of an innovative, high-growth start-up. Here she talks to Finance Monthly about the role of a CFO and the future of online currency.
The role of CFO is well positioned to drive cultural change within a company. What goals did you arrive with as CFO of Currency Cloud?
I am a strong believer that the role of CFO goes far beyond looking after the numbers. The most satisfying roles I have held over the years have been those that allow for true partnership with the strategic and commercial sides of the business, and I hope to work in the same way at Currency Cloud.
The idea of cultural change is important. As a CFO, one of my major goals is always to realise and promote the value of the finance function as part of the wider business operations and priorities. Some of the roles I have held in the past have required me to take the lead on re-shaping the team to achieve these goals, as well as motivating key senior managers to develop and deliver new processes. Working with the wider leadership team in this way to identify key value drivers and ways to create and support recurring revenue growth lie at the heart of a finance function that delivers strategic value back to the business.
Are companies like Currency Cloud shielded or more exposed during a financial crisis due to its nature?
Our clients are operating in challenging market conditions. Globalisation is growing demand for international business expansion, while regulatory and reporting requirements are putting an increased strain on the industry. Speed to market is a critical competitive factor, with consumers more in control than ever before. Needless to say, we are facing an incredibly volatile economic environment – the nature of international payments means that our sector will always be impacted by changes to FX rates, and the uncertainty caused by major events such as the impending EU referendum.
A lot has been made recently of the security systems in place for online currency, data clouds etc. At Currency Cloud, how do you ensure that money is kept secure?
Wherever money is involved, there must be trust. In financial services, trust must be built on a bedrock of security. Needless to say, this is something we take enormously seriously at Currency Cloud – it’s constantly top of mind. Earlier this year, we were awarded the official stamp of approval in the form of certification against ISO 27001:2013 – the international standard for best practice in Information Security Management Systems. This accreditation, and the voluntary regular audits that it brings provides our clients with independent assurance that our commitment to security runs through everything we do.
How do you see the future of the industry?
Within FinTech more broadly, the payments space has arguably seen the greatest amount of innovation. The push to provide customers with the most convenient payment method for every situation means we are seeing a huge amount of diversity (and fragmentation) in innovation, and an explosion of different business models at this user-facing front end. This in turn, is forcing shifts in the underlying infrastructure, which must power and process these demands. As the world in which we live evolves, so too must the technology that underpins it.
In this globally connected, digital environment, payment transactions moving increasingly towards low value, high volume, as well as increasingly being embedded and ‘hidden’ within other services – you only have to look at Uber to see this in action.
Traditional models were simply not set up to deal with this, meanwhile FinTech was founded on principles of speed, ease of use, security and transparency. This presents a real and very exciting opportunity to fill the “solution gap”.