Marco Palinar is proof of how sometimes, life sends you on a path, different from what you set out for yourself. The Brankas spotlight turns on for our resident UI/UX guy, all-around-design-master, Pay Product Manager, rockstar, and sneakerhead- Marco. He gets candid about his beginnings, his career evolution, and his Brankas baby - Pay.
Born in a traditional Gurajati business family, Avani grew up discussing business on the breakfast table. The concepts of finance, strategy, competition, even customer service were embedded in her early on, at home and in school. In her pre-teens, Avani was interested in Architecture and dreamt of building her own animation studio. But her first love has always been business finance, and that ultimately led her to become a Chartered Accountant. For Avani, business is the center of any vocation, and if she landed a different path, business and finance would still be her stronghold.
In her free time, Avani enjoys traveling to places that are rich in architecture. Her favorites are Gothic, Mughul, and a combination of Hindu and Mughul. She enjoys photography, reading books on business histories and biographies & psychology. She is a fitness enthusiast and an avid gym goer.
This week, Avani takes the Brankas centerstage as she shares her passion for business and finance, her industry insights, and Brankas’ best practices that can help other organizations in their financial management journey.
What memorable life events did you experience because of your job? Each role has been very enriching; as a Consultant, when you are able to turn around the analysis in a very short period of time and the client makes an investment decision based on it; as a Finance team lead, establishing robust finance and tax structures; as a Business Partner, when you are able to structure deals which increase profitability and payback, work with international teams and implement a business framework which enables the Business teams to penetrate new customer segments; as a Head FP&A, to work on cost transparency projects.
How did you learn about Brankas and what made you decide to accept the role? I was recommended by my erstwhile CFO at Trusting Social to BeeNext and they approached me for the role. The role at Brankas offered me the opportunity to work in a sunrise industry, a startup where I could leverage on my past experience and establish the finance framework and exposure to the SEA markets.
Can you walk us through your typical day in the office as the Finance Director for Brankas? Each day is different as I need to wear different hats depending upon what we are looking to solve. So the role encompasses attending the weekly business development calls and understanding the progress, reviews of customer contracts, review of policies, cash collection, management and planning, publishing monthly financial results, managing audits and compliances, setting up transfer pricing mechanisms, resolving queries and having a financial impact.
What essential skills does one need to start a career in Finance? To start a career in Finance one definitely needs to have a sound technical knowledge. Additionally, one also needs to focus on needs of the business and come up with solutions for challenges rather than creating accounting/ tax hurdles. Aspirants need to have knowledge on accounts, audit, tax and business operations.
What are the main factors to consider when helping an organization establish an effective budget? In addition to the normal budgeting process, always have a Plan B, this is especially true for start-ups.
As a Finance Director, what other teams do you collaborate with, and how do you help each other achieve success? Finance collaborates intensively with the Business teams, HR and to a certain extent, Product. To the Business teams, we support them with developing pricing models/ structures, defining better credit terms and other commercial conditions which help them in customer acquisition, achieving their sales targets along with profitability. With HR, we collaborate for resource planning and budgeting, building incentive plans and R&R policies. We collaborate with the Product teams to understand the cost structure and provide solutions to make it more optimum and efficient without compromising on the quality.
As a company that works in multiple countries, how do you ensure that you comply with national financial standards and regulations? One needs to stay updated with the regulations of each of the countries that the company operates. Engage in regular dialogue with the consultants, hear their views and keep asking for alternatives, never settling for just one option and always researching about the regulations.
What does success look like in your role as Finance Director? When a company faces a business challenge and looks for a solution which has the backing of the Finance Director- that can be success. But when a Finance Director is viewed as a Business Partner/ Business Strategist and not just as an accountant- that is what real success looks like.
What financial strategies do we practice at Brankas that other startups can learn from? For any startup, cash management is most important. At Brankas, we are very diligent about our spendings and negotiate hard with our vendors in terms of prices as well as credit terms. We have a practice of calling for competitive bids from at least 3 vendors before finalizing on one. We emphasize on collecting our receivables and are persistent about it. We tend to be agile and mobilize internal resources to accomplish tasks.
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Brankas is bringing Open Banking to Southeast Asia. Our vision is to make modern financial services available to everyone.