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Panel recap

Building a global financial strategy

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Michael Tannenbaum

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6 min read

6 min read



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Panel recap

Building a global financial strategy

Foreword

As the CFO and COO here at Brex, I am lucky to frequently have the opportunity to connect with customers and discuss the broader business environment. Recently, I had the pleasure of partnering with The Information - a publication I read and respect - on “The New Financial Playbook,” a three-part live panel series that discussed the new operational and financial paradigms facing today’s founders, investors, and leaders.

In part one, we discussed global banking, a timely topic given shake-ups in the industry and Brex’s continued investment in ensuring our business account protects and facilitates the financial operations of global companies. In our latest, part two, we explored building a global financial strategy with Alexa von Tobel of Inspired Capital and Alex Bouaziz of Deel, a topic near and dear to the Brex mission of empowering employees anywhere to make better financial decisions.

Below we’ve shared The Information’s part two recap and additional perspective on how Brex can help you build a global financial strategy. Contact us anytime — we’re always eager to talk global scaling.

Michael Tannenbaum
Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer
Brex

The New Financial Playbook: Building a global financial strategy recap

Organizational growth often requires global expansion. But how do companies navigate the complexity of hiring people from all over the world, taking into account various regulations, taxes and wages—while creating benefit parity across the board? Jessica Lessin, founder and CEO of The Information, sat down for a virtual panel with three experts to find out what this all means for a company’s financial strategy:

  • Michael Tannenbaum, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Brex
  • Alexa von Tobel, Founder and Managing Partner of Inspired Capital
  • Alex Bouaziz, Co-founder and CEO of Deel

Why going global is a must

Lessin started the conversation by asking the panelists why thinking globally is so important right now. Michael Tannenbaum of Brex said he felt the pandemic normalized the idea of having teams all over the world. “So much of the way people are working has changed. It was already changing and the pandemic really just sped things up. Companies of Brex’s size and much smaller are taking advantage of a global workforce. And as soon as you have that global workforce, you’re naturally going to have the need for different human resource, IT and finance infrastructures.”

Alex Bouaziz of Deel, an all-in-one HR platform for global teams, talked about the practical difficulty of growing when you’re only in the U.S. “There’s a moment where the business just doesn’t make sense if you only have people in the [San Francisco] Bay Area and New York. It’s just become very hard to make the business profitable, which is the big focus for the years to come. There is incredible talent everywhere, and you can give a chance to amazing people to be able to work for you. You always need to control your spend, and a great way to do that is to hire globally. ”

Brex postscript:

Brex has understood that going global is a must from day one, since we were founded by global entrepreneurs Pedro Franceschi and Henrique Dubugras. We believe in a world where value can be created from anywhere, and we have talent concentrations in the US, Tel Aviv, Canada, and Brazil and remote employees worldwide. To learn how we built a spend solution that serves more countries and currencies than any other, read the latest article from our Director of Global Product Erica Dorfman.

“And as soon as you have that global workforce, you’re naturally going to have the need for different human resource, IT and finance infrastructures.”

— Michael Tannenbaum, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Brex

Tools that meet the moment

Alexa von Tobel talked about the impact of tools that make working globally easier. “As the world has become flat, there’s incredible asynchronous tools now, from Slack to Loom and all these other ways of working that have made it common to be able to hire exceptional talent, not just in engineering, but in every category across the globe. The tools are just getting better every quarter to make it more of an advantage to do so.”

Though businesses are introducing and adopting productivity and communication tools quickly, HR and financial tools have been slow to catch up. As Tannenbaum said, “There’s this way of collaborating in a remote way that allows you to leverage cost savings, but what hasn’t necessarily evolved is the financial infrastructure. The thing that everybody is trying to do is to make global employees have parity with someone in the U.S.—things like corporate cards, expense management, travel, all those financial services that touch employees.…Those are the areas that you should be thinking about from an infrastructure perspective.” In other words, companies need borderless financial solutions that bring their global teams together with one consistent experience on that platform. And Michael noted “that is what Brex offers.”

Brex postscript:

Brex prioritizes delivering an exceptional user experience with 24/7 global support — not simply because we like making people happy — but because an automated, consumer-grade experience leads to higher compliance, which helps you save money and close the books faster. Our spend solution works consistently and intuitively by mobile app or dashboard, no matter where you are in the world, and can be easily adapted to local regulations, currencies, and customs.

"The thing that everybody is trying to do is to make global employees have parity with someone in the U.S."

— Michael Tannenbaum, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Brex

Globalization going forward

Given the complexities and the undeniable opportunities of going global, what should founders be thinking about in the coming months?

Von Tobel said the key is to think about the macro environment. “You have to keep one eye open to the macro because it’s going to really impact capital dilution, cash revenue, how you think about talent and what you pay talent. That’s always mattered. But I believe it matters significantly more now and is a real skill set of your best founders.”

One thing Bouaziz is looking forward to in the next year is reducing the number of tools companies use. “On average, companies use over 16 different tools. I’m pretty excited about some of the recent launches from Brex because we’re seeing a lot of consolidation. To us, consolidation is definitely something that’s going to be really big over the next few months.”

Brex postscript:

As companies expand globally, they tend to amass multiple corporate cards, expense management tools, travel solutions, and other expensive infrastructure, usually just because they started in one location with a solution that turns out to not work everywhere. But this creates a ton of manual work, poor visibility, and excess cost. Set yourself up for global success from the outset with one unified spend solution that is built for scale and works everywhere, including cards and reimbursements in local currencies, multi-entity ERP support, and unbiased global travel inventory.

Go forth into the world

It’s almost an imperative for growing companies to go global. Not only does it open up new markets and offer cost savings, but it also opens up new pools of talent. After all, exceptional engineers exist all over the world. Communication tools make working globally seamless. And with fintechs like Brex and HR platforms like Deel supporting them, companies will be able to explore new territory and offer parity for all employees, wherever they are.

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