EML’s Group CFO Rob Shore’s Genetics Background Gives Him Deep Insights Into FinTech’s DNA
''Ultimately, in a financial services business - it's all about the numbers,'' according to Rob Shore, Group Chief Financial Officer at EML. Speaking in a fascinating conversation, he reveals his scientific mindset of testing and learning have remained consistent themes in his life. He is very excited about the company's 3-year Accelerator strategy.
”We’ve mastered the art of the pivot through becoming a truly global, Reloadable-To-Platform business. We’re excellent at taking features like Microcredit, Faster Payments or Open Banking and packaging them together as modules better than anyone else to deliver outstanding, seamless solutions our customers love. Our route to success with Accelerator is becoming product-led and making 2 + 2 = 6 by bringing people together in a dynamic, interconnected payments world where the customer experience is second to none.”
Finance was not always on Rob’s horizon. Initially, he wanted to be a Vet. He studied Molecular Biology and Genetics, specifically the enzymes involved in the ageing process, for his Science Degree. From there, he went on to study Accountancy for 3 years. These days, there is a name for the bridge between Science and Finance. It is called Disruption.
”Trial and error must immediately spring to mind when you consider the impact of disrupters. We’ll never dislodge an existing playerin the market with the same solution they have today. So, we’ll continue to succeed by trying something new and placing new technology centre stage. We don’t want to be a price competitor because competing on price is a downward spiral and a road to nowhere. EML is terrific at creating new, innovative solutions. In itself, this inevitably reaches back to; well, we think this might work and can it become a fantastic commercial opportunity? We’re always exploring new avenues and then building stunning new boulevards. We don’t always succeed; sometimes, we fail. But we always learn fast, and testing is the essence of Science. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times, and we create light bulb moments continually,” Rob added.
What keeps you awake at night the most about the business?
”It’s the pace of change and the number of moving parts. We’re an inordinately complicated business, and it’s what you don’t always see that could cause an issue. We spend a tremendous amount of time and energy, ensuring nothing does go wrong. This involves many people being brilliant in a host of different areas. The challenge with doing something new is that it hasn’t ever been done before, so there’s no manual to reference. The challenge is making sure we don’t drop the ball. Payments is like rolling bowling balls through a house of cards and not knocking a single one over. We’re amazingly fortunate to work with incredible subject matter experts involved in so many different business areas and on an array of projects at any one time.”
So, what is the most enjoyable aspect of being part of a FinTech disrupter?
Rob said, ”It’s like sitting front row at the Olympics; I’m always thrilled to get to see so many pieces of the puzzle play out before my eyes. With roots in Finance, I focus on the numbers. Modelling about risk or opportunity, treasury reconciliations or whatever it might be, it’s essential to think quantitatively in our analysis. That’s my North Star and mindset when problem-solving, which allows me to think of where the most significant issues reside? I have many conversations, and I love to listen to what hasn’t yet been stated. It can tell you a lot about what you need to discover to make the best decision. The excitement and focus on one area doesn’t mean you can neglect other angles, so you never lose the overall perspective.”
In 2021, what is the role of a Group CFO?
”There are many misconceptions about Finance. It’s a love for collaborating with people in so many different aspects of the business that brings us together as#OneTeamwith all stakeholders. From financial control and governance to investors, the board, treasury management, cash management, and explaining financial implications of different decisions, the allocation of capital, regulatory issues and managing a team spread all over the globe. In my view, the role of the CFO is to make all the different aspects of the business cohesive. A CFO’s role has changed dramatically, for the better, in recent decades and is much broader than the traditional definition of looking at the numbers. The pace of change makes it an appealing profession.”
What are your most significant, standout memories in your time at EML?
”The acquisition of PFS was the result of so much hard work by everyone on both sides of the world and both sides of the deal. It delivered on a multi-year strategy for EML to move further into reloadable products, so it was a large and very important deal. Now, we see that objective has been achieved, and we’re building on the next objectives with a focus on reloadable products to catapult us far into the payment industry’s future. A colossal amount of time was invested on due diligence, legal, a significant equity raise and ensuring we explained the importance of the deal to our stakeholders. The acquisition’s execution was very positive and created life long memories after everyone devoted incredible hours to its successful completion. Making theS&P/ASX200on the back of the deal and pivoting the group to focus on reloadable programmeschanged not just the company’s dynamic, but our collective thinking to take us stratospheric.”
Finally, can you explain what you mean when you say you are motivated by achieving what you think you cannot do?‘
‘Life would be a very dull existence if you only reached what you knew you’re capable of achieving. You have to venture beyond in life to the unknown and surprise yourself along the journey. Hopefully, you happen upon an adventure by avoiding the signpost where ”too safe” is written in bold,” concluded Rob Shore.