Building a robust Finance function to support scalability

Join Ingo Uytdehaage (CFO at Adyen) and Julio Martinez (Founder & CEO at Abacum), as they discuss the role of a CFO at a scaling company, the importance of finance being a strategic partner to support the scaling business, and his learnings leading the finance team through an IPO successfully.

Having to build the finance function from the ground up wasn't an easy feat for Ingo Uytdehaage 15 years ago.

Meet Adyen’s CFO, who has successfully lead the finance team through an IPO and helped the company grow to 2000+ employees with 27 offices around the world and a volume of €303.6 billion in 2020.

As for the story of the company, it all started when Adyen’s co-founders, Pieter van der Does and Arnout Schuijff, thought about building a platform capable of meeting the changing needs of today's fast-growing businesses in the payments technology space. At the time, the industry consisted of a potpourri of outdated systems. So they founded Adyen, Surinamese name for "Start over again", that perfectly represents their vision to change the payments industry.

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Check out what Ingo has to say about the role of finance as a strategic business partner and his vision to keep the finance function efficient as the organization kept scaling.

How is finance a strategic partner, business partner to the rest of the business? How did you think of that model and how is the impact, how do you see or how do you measure that impact in a tangible way?

If I look back, we started with focusing on the real business questions too late because we were too busy linking the different systems together. And I think that's also what I really like about your product pitch, the ability to start analyzing your data way earlier. I think that sometimes we forget what the finance function is for, like the more traditional view. The role of finance is to make the right decisions, to be a strategic business partner, to have the right insights, to understand data, to understand data quality. And I think at that time we started to build that too late.

But I think our team it's going to be at a size where we really have time to be a business partner. And I think that's something that every finance function should be from day one. It should not just be the CFO helping out with business questions. It should be the whole finance team helping out with business functions.


How did you prepare the finance team to scale to serve the business while still remaining efficient?

So we have no finance functions in the other countries. Still today the finance function is all run from Amsterdam as well as the payout to merchants. But, how do you get proper monitoring in place? How do you make sure that if a job runs as expected, how do you make sure that someone is available to fix it? We've built it as a global finance function, so finance is efficient and central. And the way we deal with the operations side of the business is still very efficient because we've always worked as a global team. We don't have P&L per region or per country because we don't believe in that. We want to work as a global team. Our merchants are global, so they don't care where revenues is booked for us.

So far, centralization has been our answer to scaling and being efficient. But I can imagine that that's not always the case for all companies. For us, it helps us to stay disciplined. And just to see how the finance function is evolving.

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