Interview

Srirama Srinivasan CFO Interview
Srirama Srinivasan

Srirama Srinivasan 

Chief Financial Officer, FidelisWorld Group

Srirama has more than 25 years of finance experience in UAE, Chennai, Mumbai, Jakarta, New York, Singapore and London, across platforms and roles – manufacturing, telecom, banking, corporate banking (deal origination and financial closures), portfolio management, strategic tie ups, and private equity. This includes 15 years of Private Equity experience in deal negotiation, transaction execution, and financial closure across private equity and debt fundraising. In his previous role at Dubai International Capital, he established the Global Strategic Equity Fund under the Dubai Financial Services Authority and worked on various committees on large LBO transactions. Srirama worked with Standard Chartered Banking Group in strategic outsourcing of Finance Function from Jakarta, Singapore and New York. He has a strong network and relationships with banks, audit firms and law firms in the Middle East and India.

Srirama has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Madras University. He is a Chartered Accountant, Cost and Works Accountant, CPA (Australia), CA (Australia and New Zealand) and a Six Sigma Black Belt. Born and raised in India, Srirama speaks English, Hindi, Tamil, and Malayalam

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Excerpts from the Interview

Date: 10th April, 2020

How has the role of CFO changed over the years? What are the more principal areas now a CFO has to look into?

The days of CFO looking into only the Financial aspects of the firm are over. A CFO is an essential part of the leadership team to participate in driving the strategy of the company along with the other professionals. A CFO’s role has now become more of 360 degrees to look into all the aspects of the business. The principle areas other than the regular functions of compliance, accounting and reporting are investor management, digital transformation, change management, strategic direction, networking, relationship building, negotiation, commercial concurrence. 

Which industry has experienced a drastic change in the role of CFO according to you?

Health Care, Technology, Investment, Entertainment are some of the industries where I see that the role has undergone a significant change.

How do you keep yourself updated with the changing dynamics?

Firstly, being updated with the current affairs of the world is a very important aspect. For business that are impacted by global events  it is necessary to keep oneself updated of what is happening around. This is accomplished by reading relevant and key information from the internet using several reliable channels.  Second is to stay in touch with professional bodies and related industry specialist to get to know the changes in the trends. Third is technology. Upgrading oneself to recent technology in itself provides several updates to the surrounding dynamics

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How useful has technology been in enhancing the capabilities of a CFO?

The current technology has enhanced in several ways the capabilities of CFO. Fristly dissemination of information and also assimilation of information has been made faster, efficient and trustworthy due to several sources of information being made available on line. The technology also has helped a CFO to rely on internet based solutions to manage business and financial operations that are spread over various geographies.

Business transactions getting more and more complex are for the better or worse?

It is good on one side that the transactions are getting complex which means that the solutions will evolve to make them more formal, standard, unambiguous and will find suitable technology to make them  easier to adopt. This has always been the case, as the complexity increases newer and deeper solutions are found and this is an ever evolving matter.

What basis do you use for identifying potential projects and investments?

The basis for our firm is to find the quality in  assets/projects/investments that has the commitment of  strength of the management team, potential of the business  in terms of growth, sustaining and managing, positive cashflows, strong governance and mainly the expected returns from an investment point view on the horizon of the investment period.

What are your views about the phrase “strategy is not an end in itself”

Strategy is only a beginning process where the ultimate goal of the defined success can be achieved by following the means suggested by the process of strategizing. It is dynamic in nature depending on the external and internal environment of the business and changes as the business and economy undergo changes. So there is no end to it but it is an ever evolving one.

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How demanding is the role of a CFO in the present day?

The CFO role has become extremely demanding because of three main reasons:

  1. The CFO is not just a finance person any more who deals only with numbers, he is part of Strategic thinker to plan along with the CEO and the other heads to give directional advice to the overall growth of the firm. Since a CFO understands the 360 degree view of the organisation the role has become much larger and more demanding 
  2. Technology has had a huge impact on the way CFO functions and to engage the company in the changes and take them through the tech changes is often included in the CFO profile as the understanding of the Tech and its impact on the functioning of the organisation has made the role more demanding
  3. Current Global scenario of dynamic economic and political environment combined with the pace in which information is disseminated makes the CFO to be on his toes to understand and comprehend the news and information and knowledge as it happens.

What should be the main strength of a CFO?

Leadership with networking skills, tech savviness and keeping up with current affairs

Keeping the last decade in mind, what are the areas to be improved upon to boost the economy?

  1. Regulations that will give impetus to bring talent into the country and give them the basic comforts and opportunities to explore
  2. Residential permits and delinking of employment status with allowance to stay in a country for a certain period of time
  3. Investing in R&D and working with universities across the world to bring new processes and tech improvements to explore what is needed for the future
  4. Implementing projects that are competitive and growth oriented that gives employment opportunities by exploring various avenues to provide jobs
  5. Easiness for people to select and move jobs 
  6. Delinking of USD peg (for middle east ) if the economy moves away from oil based revenues as the demand for oil over time moves away to more green energy
  7. Investing in resources and solutions that will be in demand in the future like food, water and other basic resources that will always be in need.

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