CFO Insights from Vishal Chhibbar
Vishal Chhibbar is the CFO of EXL, as well as the executive sponsor of the company’s Finance and Accounting Business, based in New York. EXL is an operations management and analytics company that designs and enables agile, customer-centric operating models that allow the firm’s clients to improve revenue and profitability. EXL delivers market-leading business outcomes by integrating cutting-edge analytics, digital transformation and domain expertise into their proprietary Business EXLerator Framework. The company predominately serves the insurance, healthcare, banking, utilities, travel, and logistics industries, among others.
Due to having had the opportunity to work and live around the world, whilst capitalizing on diverse thinking and multicultural environments, Vishal has the global mindset to truly understand the challenges of a global company today. Here he shares some of his experiences and plans for the future with Finance Monthly.
You joined EXL in 2009 – how would you evaluate your role and its impact over the last 7 years? What have been your major achievements?
I joined EXL from a great, large corporate environment with the goal to play a role in generating a bigger impact at a smaller company – by creating value for shareholders, value for the company itself and greater value for the clients.
And we’ve done exciting things exactly on these fronts. An example that illustrates this perfectly is the value created for our shareholders. Our revenue guidance this year is $750 million, compared to $180 million when I first joined. Our market cap today is up to $1.8 billion, in comparison to approximately $300 million in 2009. Back then, we had $100 million in cash and had made no acquisitions. In the past 8 years, we’ve made 11 acquisitions, deploying $275 million. We’ve also launched share buy-back programs, which benefit shareholders through a healthy capital allocation strategy.
Operationally, we’ve expanded to 40 delivery locations across 10 countries (compared to 13 delivery locations in three countries in 2009) and we’ve invested heavily in our capability development to keep up with market demand. Our heritage was transactional BPO, but today we are leading players in robotics and analytics, so we’ve been able to invest to increase the value we deliver to our clients.
What further goals are you currently working towards with the company?
Our current goal is very much focused on making sure we have a profitable growth model. This can be challenging because, like many of our clients’ industries, ours is going through transformation and disruption, with companies like EXL moving from traditional “lift and shift” BPO to a focus on value creation and building new operating models for our clients using digital interventions, advanced analytics and domain expertise. We focus on leading this transition in our industry, delivering significant impact for our clients, while also driving both top and bottom line growth for our shareholders. This means charting sustainable double-digital growth at the top and bottom lines.
Another aspect that we are currently focusing on is connected to driving an aggressive M&A strategy that adds capabilities to our growing solution set, while maximizing the value of those acquisitions.
On top of this, we continue to deploy approximately 4% of revenue back into the business, in order to drive new innovative solutions such as AI, robotics and other digital solutions for our clients.
What challenges would you say you and the firm encounter on a regular basis? How are these resolved?
As a company our challenges are twofold. First, we’re focused on how we transform our existing business, which was traditionally a people-intensive business. Second, as we transform, we are cannibalizing revenue through technology, such as automation, so we need to balance that with the ability to grow and add greater value to our clients. We’ve done a good job at this thus far.
Another focus for us, as we go forward, relates to addressing a bigger share of wallet and moving towards becoming a strategic digital transformation partner, rather than simply an offshore solution provider.
How are these challenges set to change, in conjunction with the advent of technologies and the potential future needs of clients?
In the digital age, technology is crucial. Today, due to the rapid pace of technological change, leaders need to be broadly knowledgeable, but at the same time – technology agnostic. There are so many tools and platforms, web services, automation and other digital technology, our own platforms, so the key for EXL is to really understand their strengths, what works best for us, what works best for our clients and combine those with our own domain expertise to come up with the right solutions. What differentiates us is the fact that we blend the analytics with our industry and domain experience, which when combined with technology, allows us to find the solution that works best to solve specific business problems.