- Author: Richard McBride | Editor
- Posted: December 13, 2023
Mike Whitmire > CEO & Co Founder, FloQast
“I love building software that helps accountants go home early” is the simple opening line on Mike Whitmire’s LinkedIn profile.
Mike is former Accountant turned co-founder & CEO of pre-IPO fintech, FloQast. On a global mission to automate the accounting industry and make CFO and controllers’ lives easier by reducing monotonous and time-consuming tasks, streamlining processes, and empowering employees to focus on strategic initiatives and planning.
CFO Magazine A/NZ Editor, Richard McBride sat down with Mike recently to discuss the exponential growth of FloQast, launching into Australia & New Zealand, the importance of creating the right culture and why collaboration is key to the future of finance.
RM. Mike, thank you for joining us today – Can you share a little about your background – Was creating and building a ‘Unicorn’ global software company part of your early ambitions or career plan?
MW – My career is a little different because I went through a very traditional career path in accounting before ending up in tech. I majored in accounting at Syracuse University in New York and began my career at Ernst & Young. Once I got my CPA license and left, I got my first exposure to the world of fintech at a pre-IPO software startup, Cornerstone OnDemand. When I joined, we had a small team, but by the time we filed for our IPO, we had almost 100 employees in the department. This environment and my previous experience in the accounting trenches taught me everything I needed to know about what accountants really need in their day-to-day roles.
RM. A software company created by accountants for accountants – What were the biggest challenges or gaps in the market that motivated you to create FloQast?
MW – As a senior accountant, I was exposed to how frustrating and inefficient all processes and procedures tied to the month-end close were. Everything was tough to track, and all work was inherently siloed. I looked at platforms like Salesforce and thought accounting workflows work in the same way as the sales function does. The entire sales team can see how far along they are in a project and if they’re close to hitting their revenue as a team. If accountants had tools like that, controllers and CFOs could use them for total visibility into the accounting department and would be game-changing for how work is completed and managed — I was surprised at the lack of effective solutions on the market. This discovery inspired me to start FloQast and set out to change how accountants can do their best work.
RM – What motivated you to write your book for finance leaders, ‘Controller’s Code: The Secret Formula to a Successful Career in Finance’?
MW – I wanted to help accountants like me learn the skills to progress in their accounting careers. There wasn’t a ton of content and information focused on the role of the Controller so we thought a book like this was necessary for the industry.
Evolution of FloQast
RM – Let’s put the spotlight on FloQast – How rapidly has the business evolved since its inception to Unicorn status and what is next on the journey?
MW – Since our inception in 2013, FloQast has become the leading provider of purpose-built accounting automation. We’ve continually evolved to fit the needs of our customers and the accounting industry as a whole – FloQast’s Accounting Operations Platform now includes FloQast Close, FloQast Ops, and FloQast Compliance Management. Coming off our 10th year in business, we currently operate in the United States, EMEA, and most recently, Australia and New Zealand.
Automation is our sweet spot, but looking ahead, we are exploring how to best leverage AI in accounting. We have our sights set on company and product growth, as well as continued international expansion.
RM – What have been some of the most memorable milestones in FloQast’s journey for you so far?
MW – 2023 was our 10th year in business, and we had multiple, significant milestones to celebrate. We now have more than 2,500 customers globally and more than 600 employees across the globe, establishing a new presence in Australia and New Zealand, a key market we’ve wanted to enter for years. We also recently appeared on the Inc. 5000 and the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 lists — both big milestones to be proud of.
The launch of FloQast Studios, the first-ever entertainment studio dedicated to creating accounting content, was personally one of my favorite highlights over the past 10 years. To date, we’ve created two seasons of PBC, a star-studded, The Office-inspired show that comically acts out the challenges of accounting. No one in the tech or finance scene had done anything like this, but we saw an opportunity to leverage the show to highlight the problems FloQast was tackling all in a fun way — a win for potential customers, employees, and investors.
However, I’m most proud of the award-winning culture we’ve built as a team at FloQast. We’ve been recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal seven years in a row, as well as Inc., Built In, Fortune, and more for our workplace. We strive to create a workplace where employees are excited to do their best work possible.
Leadership, Values and Company Culture
RM – What principles or values guide the leadership and culture at FloQast, and how do they contribute to the company’s success?
MW At FloQast, our team is dedicated to building better lives for accountants. To do this and deliver our best work, it’s important that our team is unwaveringly authentic, ambitious with integrity, empowered to grow, committed to collaboration, and customer-obsessed — these are the five main principles that guide our organization. We must always be true to ourselves, have expectations higher than the moon, and look for continued ways to do and be better for ourselves and our customers.
RM – In an age of hybrid and flexibility with employees, how do you foster innovation and a collaborative spirit within your team?
MW One of our founding principles is the idea of being committed to collaboration, whether we’re working as a team in person or remotely. We keep this spirit alive for our customers as they benefit most when our team works together and delivers high-quality services and products. FloQasters take on challenges as a team and celebrate the big wins together.
Addressing CFO Challenges
RM – From your perspective, what are the most significant challenges CFOs face today, and how can technology help alleviate these challenges?
MW Our research at FloQast found that noncompliance is one of the most prevalent and dangerous challenges faced by CFOs. This can stem from a lack of strategy in the current compliance function, insufficient staffing, skills gaps within their teams, and perhaps most noteworthy, the absence of digital transformation within existing processes. CFOs are dealing with mounting investor demands and increasingly complex regulations requiring their finance and accounting teams to improve their reporting, controls, and compliance. Not to mention, that the ever-increasing volume and complexity of regulatory changes pose a significant compliance challenge for CFOs as well.
When CFOs implement technology solutions like automation, it helps to streamline their compliance and controls management processes and reduces the risk that compliance could miss a critical step or error. Automation also helps to bolster the technical foundation of the organization as a whole, reduces burnout, and leads to happier employees.
RM – How does FloQast specifically address the pain points of finance professionals in their day-to-day operations?
MW Since FloQast was created by accountants, we really do understand the frustrations that many accountants struggle with in their day-to-day roles. Our solutions alleviate the pressure on accounting teams with automation that streamlines and optimizes various accounting processes and allows for more focus on strategic endeavors that further a company’s goals and growth.
FloQast has a purpose-built Accounting Automation Platform for the month-end close, checklist items, documentation, reconciliations, collaboration, communication, and reconciliations. However, our bread and butter is the close. FloQast not only improves the speed and accuracy of the Close with automation, but we also connect the close to the larger tech stack via integrations.
Additionally, FloQast Ops extends the power of FloQast Close to deliver connected accounting operations, helping organizations on the path to operational excellence. Further, our Reconciliation Management Solution allows controllers and their teams to automate and manage the periodic reconciliation process with a centralized solution. Finally, our Compliance Management solution simplifies financial compliance intricacies by consolidating financial controls seamlessly with the Close, ensuring continuous audit-ready compliance.
Future Trends in Finance
RM- What trends do you anticipate in the finance and accounting industry in the coming years, and how is FloQast positioned to address these trends?
MW Financial transformation will be the largest trend we’ll see in the coming years, particularly as it drives accounting and financial operational excellence. To keep up with this trend, organizations will need to implement solutions (and technologically-driven solutions, in particular) that empower employees, maintain workloads, quicken decision-making, and propel a company to move forward. We’ll also see leaders updating out-of-date processes to more modern systems to allow employees to work more efficiently and effectively.
Second, in line with adhering to federal regulations and compliance, we’re going to see a widespread trend of organizations in this space placing greater emphasis on risk management and compliance. This is especially true as ESG reporting requirements become more common and companies prepare to go public. Ensuring compliance with regulations will be paramount.
Organizations will begin to see how much value they can derive from their compliance functions and how it will aid them in areas such as increasing risk awareness, increasing transparent financial reporting, and causing a reduction in data entry errors.
FloQast is well-prepared to handle these trends and is actively calling for financial and digital transformation. By automating the mundane, we can free up time for a better work-life balance and strategic pursuits to attract the critical skill sets still needed in accounting. In fact, FloQast’s research series, Controller’s Guidebook, uncovered data to prove that financial and digital transformation is looming and imminent (76% of upstream and downstream processes would be better integrated with accountants’ work).
Additionally, our Compliance Management Solution helps finance, accounting, and internal audit teams centrally manage and integrate compliance into business processes for continuous audit readiness and integrity. Organizations can monitor controls in real-time and align around their compliance program which helps to reduce risk and gives owners clear visibility into ownership and accountability.
RM – Are there specific areas within finance where you see the most potential for innovation and disruption?
MW Financial transformation presents an opportunity for significant innovation and disruption, especially as it pertains to the modernization of technology and the integration of AI. We’re already seeing automation become the norm within the accounting and finance industry—for example, routine tasks such as data entry, invoice processing, bank reconciliations, and tax calculations are becoming automated and freeing up accountants to focus on higher-value activities.
Now, with the emergence of new technology, rapid advancements in tech will continue to enhance the quality of work. AI can improve data analysis and real-time financial reporting, as well as improve accuracy and fraud detection. Plus, with the addition of AI and automation, accountants will now have more time to pursue other activities or opportunities for leadership.
Advice and resources for CFOs and Finance Leaders
RM – Based on your experience, what advice would you give to CFOs and finance leaders in navigating the challenges and opportunities in today’s business landscape?
MW Today’s CFO must embrace and adapt to new challenges, especially as they come often. My advice to the CFOs and finance professionals is to collaborate — work closely with your teams to ensure that you’re providing the deepest and most actionable insights possible, as they’re critical to driving the next steps of the organization. Additionally, collaborate with your fellow C-suite members, too. You should be a trusted strategic advisor, well-versed in the elements of business, and capable of leading teams and collaborating on all levels.
RM – How can finance professionals best prepare for future disruptions and changes in their roles?
MW Technology is one of the biggest drivers of disruption in the finance and accounting landscape. To be best equipped, finance professionals should take the time to learn new systems, embrace the digital transformation process, and put in the effort to adapt to new tools and work methods. To do so, explore and adopt emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and machine learning, collaborate with colleagues to share knowledge and best practices, be open to adjusting strategies as needed, and build resilience and adaptability into financial strategies in order to remain flexible and scalable.
RM – Thank you Mike for your time, experiences and insights today, we look forward to following the continued success of the FloQast in the A/NZ region and wish you and the team all the best.
FloQast have a wealth of online resources available to CFOs current and aspiring:
- 2023 Audit Readiness: Laying the Foundation for Success
- Navigating Volatile Markets: Crafting an Agile Compliance Program to Capitalize on Market Opportunities