Fascinating Future of Finance Management: interview with Deepak Narayanan

Innovation and digital transformation is everywhere in financial services but also beyond. Finance operations and the way most businesses operate, manage their day-to-day and long term finances is changing fast. Transforming companies from in the inside. What is going on in finance management? Fintech Review asked a few questions to Deepak Narayanan, Founder & CEO of Practus.

Tell us more about Practus. What is your elevator pitch?

Practus helps customers solve business problems using tech as an enabler to improve profitability. We help them reduce working capital and enhance enterprise valuations. You can call it the elevator pitch we call it the Practus anthem.

What is your background and what is the story behind the company?

Both Venkat and Deepak hail from middle-income families where ‘value’ consciousness is embedded in everything that one does. This attribute played a significant role in developing Practus’ core value proposition: “Real, measurable, tangible ROI on consulting spends for its clients”.

Venkat was the one to identify this gap during his two stints as CFO of two large US MNCs in India. The opportunity was compelling for Deepak to join him.

The background…

Over the last 25 years, Venkat has been at the core of business and financial transformations for over 500 clients globally. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Cost & Management Accountant, and practicing Risk Manager, he started his career with PWC where he worked for 8 years. As a 28-year-old professional, Venkat was appointed as the CFO of Aon’s Indian subsidiary. He has actively partnered with PE/VC funds, start-ups, family-managed businesses, and enterprise clients. Venkat has provided entities with practical and implementable solutions to improve business performance and fast-track their transformation journeys.

Deepak’s tryst with entrepreneurship began in 2007 before it became ‘cool’. Deepak realised that there were glaring gaps in business consulting practices where the risk was largely on the customer and consulting firms could get away under the garb of merely providing advice without any ‘skin in the game’, and this prompted him and his Co-founder, Venkat to start an enterprise that would change how consulting firms operated.

The inception of Practus

This led to the inception of Practus, earlier known as MyCFO. Its proprietary ROI framework has consistently helped clients realise 3-12X on the fees paid to Practus. In the last decade, Practus has successfully assisted close to 1,000 companies (ranging from funded startups to Fortune 500 companies) across 9 countries in solving business problems across finance, supply chain, operations, manufacturing, sales, and marketing functions to significantly improve their revenues, cash flows, profits, and efficiencies. Practus serves global clients from its offices in India, New York and Dubai. Practus’ unique differentiator is the commitment to deliver a tangible ROI to its customers. We have delivered close to $200 million in savings in the last 10 years alone through (a) Office of CFO (b) Performance Improvement and (c) Business Transformation.

Practus raised a round of funding from the ASK family office in 2015 and remains the only consulting company in India to have accessed institutional funding. The company rebranded to Practus (‘results’ in latin) in October 2021

What are the main trends in finance management?

There are no specific trends as such. Finance like any other business function needs to evolve and to be honest has in fact evolved in the last few years. Digitization and technology has played a big part in the transformation of the finance function. The CFO/ Finance leader has emerged as the clear No.2 in an organisation, as a co-pilot to the CEO in driving the strategy, being a part of performance measurement so much so that several functions outside of finance now report into the CFO notably IT/Technology, risk/regulatory, commercial.

The other trend is finance team’s involvement in pricing, enabling business/ operating model frameworks and making the business more scalable, profitable and valuable. Finance leaders are also emerging as great ‘story tellers’, they are now able to narrate a compelling story which makes it interesting for stakeholders like the leadership team, boards, analysts, investors, customers alike to understand the nuances better allowing for better quality inputs leading to improved decision making.

How is Practus responding to these trends?

Practus is ensuring that we are walking shoulder to shoulder with the Boards, CEO’s and CFO’s whether this is as part of their digital transformation journey or in helping companies improve business performance through revenue, profitability, cash flow improvements leading to enhanced enterprise valuations or in improving business processes to make them agile, improve efficiencies and productivity across areas such as finance, supply chain, manufacturing, sales and people. Practus has delivered close to $200 million in savings/improvement in the last decade alone

Any innovation in fintech more broadly that you are really excited about?

The ability of any business to integrate fintech as part of its business model is very exciting. For instance, an analytics company servicing B2B customers today can think of helping customers with access to funds through banks, financial institutions, connects to service providers in the form of credit rating agencies, consultants who can help them solve business problems where the company today needs help. This also helps the analytics company to build scale, create a recurring revenue model, build stronger relationships with clients and makes them more valuable.