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The Role Forward

The State of Strategic Finance in Q3 2023

In this episode of The Role Forward, Bijan Moallemi and Joe Garafalo, Co-Founders and CEO/COO of Mosaic, discuss the current state of the "strategic finance" category they set out to create in 2019.

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Episode Summary

In this episode of The Role Forward, Joe Michalowski hosts a deep dive into strategic finance with Bijan Moallemi and Joe Garafalo, co-founders of Mosaic. The trio unpacks the evolving landscape of business and the increasing complexity that demands more from finance professionals.

Joe emphasizes the importance of investing in finance functions, especially in today’s economy. He illustrates how strategic finance operates in real time, allowing businesses to know exactly where they stand and where they’re heading. This proactive approach enables teams to assess ROI on significant expenditures and make informed decisions.

Biajn and Joe also discuss the shift in planning from a structured, periodic process to a continuous one. They liken traditional finance to driving with the headlights off, while strategic finance provides clear visibility and direction. The conversation concludes with insights on the value of AI in finance and its potential to save time and drive progress.

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Featured Guests

Joe Garafalo

Co-Founder and COO, Mosaic

Joe Garafalo is Co-Founder and COO of Mosaic, a technology company building the first Strategic Finance Platform. Joe began his career in the Big 4 with KPMG. After completing his master’s degree at St. John’s University, he went on to hold multiple leadership positions in finance at Palantir, Axoni, and Barkbox.

Bijan Moallemi

Co-Founder and CEO, Mosaic

Bijan Moallemi has nearly a decade of experience building and leading finance functions at companies like Qualcomm and Palantir. He knew CFOs deserved access to better tools, so he co-founded Mosaic Finance to build the next generation of finance software for CFOs and their teams. Born out of their own experiences in finance, Bijan and his co-founders have built the Mosaic platform as a tool that combines big data and machine learning to provide powerful predictive reporting capabilities.

Key Themes from the Episode
  • Strategic finance teams play a pivotal role in charting a company's path to success, identifying potential pitfalls, and helping the company avoid them. They leverage technology and tools to analyze data, forecast trends, identify opportunities and risks, and empower teams to move beyond the traditional confines of finance.
  • The planning process has shifted from a structured, periodic process to a continuous one. The finance team works closely with other teams, such as sales and marketing, to understand the inputs that drive the model. This makes the planning process more strategic and company-wide, as everyone understands the factors that influence the business model.
  • AI is playing an increasingly important role in finance. It simplifies the process of preparing data for analysis and forecasting, making insights more accessible and understandable for everyone in the company. This not only makes the planning process more strategic but also ensures that everyone in the company understands the inputs that drive the business model.

Episode Highlights from Bijan Moallemi and Joe Garafalo

10:55 — The Importance of Continuous Planning

Brian explains the type of companies that typically use Stripe as their source of revenue truth. He mentions that these are usually B2C or product-led growth companies with high data volume. The discussion highlights the contrast between these companies and those that use platforms like Salesforce for enterprise contracts. Brian also touches on the challenges these companies face due to the rigidity of billing systems and the high volume of data.

“B2C or product-led growth, where people can self-serve, sign up and automate that process is phenomenal for a lot of reasons. The issue you get into, though, is one tremendous data volume cuz it’s just happening all the time.”

19:47 — The Modern Role of Finance

Bijan uses the analogy of a car to explain the role of the finance function. He compares traditional finance to driving with the headlights off, while strategic finance provides clear visibility and direction.

“With continuous planning, you’ve got those great headlights that are always on, that maybe even move as you’re going around the corner so you can really see what’s going on.”

28:50 — The Rise of AI in Finance

Joe discusses the potential of AI in the accounting and finance space. He believes AI can help with complex accounting transactions and decision-making, making processes more efficient and airtight.

“And I think you’ll see AI really start to aid in kind of the decision-making there. And, it should be pretty airtight.”

Full Transcript