CFO Series: Will Herman (Forward Partners, VC) on Personal Financial Management
As most of my Wee Scot Finance readers know, I run the finances of an advertising technology company in London. This training gave me a great eduction in understanding finances, not just from a company perspective, but from a personal perspective. Even if you have got to grips with your finances, refining and optimising them, can still be overwhelming; simplifying your finances can increase the amount you earn and provide you with more freedom to live your life.
Over the last 2 months I have been interviewing some of the best finance minds in the technology world. These finance minds have provided some brilliant advise from great books to read, to innovative companies to try to cutting edge finance technology to use.
Today, we have a fantastic chief financial officer (CFO), Will Herman, of the entrepreneur accelerant, Forward Partners.
Will spent the first 10 years of his career at Accenture as a management consultant. From Accenture he moved into the technology world, taking the finance director and head of commercial operations role at Hassle.com (now helping.co.uk), a cleaning technology start up. He helped sell this company, and is now the CFO at one of the UK's leading venture capital funds, Forward Partners. If you are a budding entrepreneur looking for funding, and access to some of the best executional support, Forward Partners has funded a multitude of pre-seed and seed stage startups through to success.
Welcome Will Herman, CFO of startup supercharger, Forward Partners.
1) So Will, you help run Forward Partners, a very successful company. How do you make time for your own financial management?
The truth is that I’m neither rich enough (sadly) or poor enough (fortunately) to have the complexity in my personal finances that demands too much time. My wife and I have a monthly budget. We check in on our spending to make sure it’s not massively out of kilter. It’s not rocket science and doesn’t take long.
2) What is fintech to you and how do you use it for financial management?
I’m a Monzo user; I was predominantly sold on it because of how cheap and easy it makes using money abroad rather than any of its other functionality. The app is miles ahead of traditional banking apps in terms of providing better visibility of spending however, I still find it of slightly limited value.
I’m a self confessed spreadsheet geek; I’m yet to find any technology that I find easier to use or more functional for analysing my personal finances.
3) Outside of personal financial management, tell me about your favourite piece of technology in your life.
I’m a keen footballer and a friend of mine has been trialling a piece of wearable tech designed at amateur footballers. I’m loving being able to combine my love of football with my love of data. Not that I’ve done anything with the data yet!
At Forward Partners we are looking to invest more and more in applied technologies. I am getting to see loads of cool stuff in our office. One of our companies, Gravity Sketch, are bringing VR into the design industry and their tech is awesome.
4) You've had the privilege of seeing the insides of many companies, and you've been a part of, and led some very successful teams, including the sale of Hassle.com. You've a strong knowledge of finance. What finance tips have you learned from your job that apply to your personal life?
The best businesses I’ve worked in and seen are always data driven, not to the point of analysis-paralysis but to the point where an appropriate amount of objective consideration is applied. This is particularly true for finance decisions and the same applies to personal finance. I have recently taken a fairly difficult decision and declined an investment to which I have an emotional attachment. It wasn’t an easy decision but I analysed the opportunity, removed the emotion and decided that I didn’t want to take on the risk.
5) We should always be learning; tell me what your favourite read was (book, blog, newsletter or otherwise), and why?
Verne Harnish’s, Scaling Up, is a great guide for all businesses and particularly fast growth businesses. It combines strategic thinking with practical tactics better than any other text I’ve come across. You can buy it from Amazon here.
I find Medium (Instagram for writers) a really good place to keep in touch with the thoughts of industry leaders; I check into Medium on a more or less daily basis.
...If you don’t mind a quick plug from Forward Partners... at thepathforward.io we’ve effectively open-sourced the wealth of knowledge that we have as a team of experts at Forward Partners; it provides incredible guidelines for entrepreneurs. It’s well worth a read.
6) Any final comments or financial management tips for Wee Scot Finance readers?
I ended up working in finance almost by accident; I don't come from a traditional finance background (audit, in house account team etc). There have been many times when I've been faced with technical and complicated challenges; the lesson I've learned in nearly all situations, finance or otherwise, is that the answer to the challenge tends to be the most logical and sensible one.
Thanks for this Will; if you want to check out some of the other top financial directors and CFOs in London, and how they are planning and plotting their finances, check out:
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