CFOs breaking boundaries, crafting long-term strategies for organisational stability: Nidhi Mehta, GOZOOP Group

As per Nidhi Mehta, Director - Finance, GOZOOP Group, “A CFO should be made an integral part of all important decision-making of the agency. A combination of their brainstorming where marketers are driven by creativity and finance is driven by numbers and budgets, could lead to some amazing outcomes for both the client and the agency”.

By  Kashmeera SambamurthyApr 12, 2024 10:03 AM
CFOs breaking boundaries, crafting long-term strategies for organisational stability: Nidhi Mehta, GOZOOP Group

For Nidhi Mehta, director - finance, GOZOOP Group, Chief Financial Officers’ role extends beyond traditional finance boundaries. They are responsible for the finance and accounting professionals who perform operational functions and services in a strategic advisory role to the CEO and the rest of the C-suite peers.

In a conversation with Storyboard18, she added, “A CFO's role commands a lot of respect in the ad agency as they advise other department heads, assist them in maximising revenues and controlling expenses without sacrificing customer needs and the agency's reputation.”

Edited Excerpts

Tell us about your career trajectory and journey. Where and how you started and what got you here.

I am a chartered accountant by profession. Post my three-year article ship, this is my first corporate job at GOZOOP Group. Years back I had not heard of GOZOOP but there was definitely a vibe when I entered the office for an interview.

Digital Marketing was a thriving industry then and the core management at GOZOOP was impressive. The job profile offered was perfect and hence, there were no second thoughts. It's been years since that decision and since then there has been no looking back.

What led you to join the advertising agency ecosystem in finance? What were your initial impressions and thoughts of the ad agency business?

Advertising is always an exciting industry. In this new emerging era, where there is a wave of entrepreneurship and brand building, marketing today plays the most pivotal role for any new business start-up. Digital marketing helps thousands of new business entrepreneurs push boundaries and drive impact.

How has the role of a CFO in an ad agency changed over the years? What does the job entail today? Where have you seen the biggest changes in what the role and function mean to the business?

The CFO's role is extending beyond traditional finance boundaries and an increasing number of finance leaders view it as a pathway to the CEO position. The modern CFO is aspirational.

Once mere observers in the boardroom, they are now crafting long-term strategies that ensure organisational stability. They are integral members of the top executive team, possessing a profound understanding of the company's vision.

How do other departments and functions in the agency view the role of the CFO and the finance function?

A CFO's and finance team's role in an ad agency is viewed as the most challenging role as they oversee the company's financial activities. This includes being responsible for the finance and accounting professionals who perform operational functions and services in a strategic advisory role to the CEO and the rest of the C-suite peers.

A CFO's role commands a lot of respect in the ad agency as they advise other department heads, assist them in maximising revenues and controlling expenses without sacrificing customer needs and the agency's reputation.

How has the agency business model evolved? What have been the key changes and disruptions according to you and the impact of these shifts on the ad agency business model?

Advertising agencies have evolved by leaps and bounds. It began with a simple printed ad in a newspaper and evolved into radio and television, commercials, billboards and digital advertising in the modern era. Advertising techniques have also become more sophisticated, incorporating psychology and consumer behaviour studies to create persuasive and effective campaigns.

Agencies are facing threats from all places. Is the business model future-ready?

It is definitely future-ready as today the focus has shifted from the product to address consumer needs. With the emergence of new technologies and data-driven approaches, agencies can remain indispensable by tapping into this potential.

However, with the pace of changes happening across the industry, agencies that do not develop a framework and plan for modernising their operational model that's inclusive of AI and technology will likely encounter increased challenges with both client and talent retention.

From your observation, do you see any gender inequality or disparity in the finance function across levels? Agency leadership has traditionally been male dominated and advertising was seen as a boys club. Does that hold true for finance as well and the CFOs in advertising?

Not at all. The finance department at GOZOOP was and is always driven by women leadership. As far as the industry is concerned, there are several factors that lead to one's leadership goal.

What are the steps ad agencies must take to advance CFOs' role in advertising?

Agencies should enhance better communication between CFOs and other departmental heads. Regular meetings between them are needed to negotiate and discuss expenses and budgets that are aligned to the company's goals.

A CFO should be made an integral part of all important decision-making of the agency as finance and marketers think and behave very differently. A combination of their brainstorming where marketers are driven by creativity and finance is driven by numbers and budgets could lead to some amazing outcomes for both the client and the agency.

What according to you are the biggest threats facing the advertising agency business today?

In-housing and talent retention are two of the biggest pressures that agencies face today. The threat remains that a brand will bring certain functions in-house, leaving agencies without that business. Brands are in-house because they believe they can do better work in a cheaper, faster and more transparent way. The other big issue is around both recruitment and retention of talent. There has always been volatility for agencies around talent.

What are the trends you are currently witnessing in advertising, and what is the role of a CFO in such a scenario?

The rapid emergence of AI and the increasing role of technology within business operations is the current trend. CFOs should follow a test-and-learn approach where with their ability they are ready to take a smart risk and foresee how certain trends will impact their business.

They should encourage the team to begin taking steps now to experiment with AI, explore how technology can drive operational value for the business, and help them understand how internal talent is spending their time and how to maximise their value for the business.

First Published on Apr 12, 2024 10:03 AM

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