Building the modern CFO stack: Brex’s financial chief on spend tech, going public & cross-functional partnership

  • In this episode, we go behind the scenes with Ben Gammell, CFO of Brex, the corporate spend management platform.
  • He hares insights on building a modern finance tech stack, preparing for an IPO, and the modern CFO's role of fostering cross-functional partnerships within their organization.

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Building the modern CFO stack: Brex’s financial chief on spend tech, going public & cross-functional partnership

Today, we’re diving into the modern CFO stack, including corporate spend management and financial tech with our guest – Ben Gammell, the CFO of Brex.

Brex has been shaking up how companies large and small approach spending, providing an integrated platform for everything from corporate cards to spend analytics. It’s been quite a journey for Ben, who started at Brex just as the firm was getting off the ground with 15 employees.

Ben gives us an inside look at Brex’s evolution from scrappy startup to serving over 120 public companies today. We’ll learn how the CFO role has transformed, expanding well beyond just finance into true cross-functional business partnership.

Ben doesn’t hold back – offering refreshing insights about navigating the IPO journey for Brex clients – but also for Brex itself, managing finances through turbulent times, and the key transitions every CFO faces as their company goes public. You’ll want to take notes! But don’t worry, we’ll keep it fun too by tapping into Ben’s lead generation skills honed from his Goldman days. Who knows, you may walk away wanting to sign up for Brex as a customer yourself!

The big ideas

Brex has evolved from serving just startups to also catering to larger enterprise clients, including public companies: “I think there’s been a big dynamic of, you know, how do we think about, you know, when we’re early stage, we’re primarily supporting our businesses with financial services products. But as we moved up into the enterprise customers, there’s a greater need for a software solution…We have over 120 public companies on our platform today. Many of them are very much household names, especially in the tech space.”

The role of a CFO has expanded beyond just finance to being more integrated with understanding the business drivers and partnering across functions: “I think that there is definitely a case where CFOs are expected to have more of a integrated sense of understanding of the business, I think, even if you look at how finance teams are structured, that’s kind of gone the trend where it’s, you know, it’s having embedded teams within different functions, providing kind of finance support.”

Brex is taking time in 2024 to integrate their products into a seamless enterprise solution rather than building new products rapidly: “A big hairy goal is just making sure that we have a really great product from a user experience perspective, and making sure that all the products we’ve built over the last several years, really work seamlessly with one another and really integrated in a really delightful experience for our customers.”

The CFO community is surprisingly collaborative and tight-knit, willing to share learnings: “I think it’s an amazingly collaborative community, which I think is fantastic, especially for more new entrants, such as myself, I think there’s definitely an openness to help each other out.”

There are key transitions a CFO needs to make as a company goes public around measuring success beyond just valuation: “I think there’s this transition phase, especially the CFOs have to go through, you know, going up to an IPO of making sure the company measures its success and things that aren’t just what is the value of the company? Because I think if you do that you’re setting yourself up for failure.”  

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.


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