As part of my series about the “How to Navigate and Succeed in the Modern World of Finance,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Paterson, CEO of Splitit. Splitit is a global payment technology solution enabling customers to pay for purchases with an existing debit or credit card by splitting the cost into interest and fee-free monthly payments, without the need for additional registrations or applications.
Prior to becoming CEO of Splitit in 2019, Brad worked with some of the world’s most successful payment companies, including Intuit, PayPal, and Visa. As Intuit’s VP of Marketing, Brad led the go-to-market team responsible for the US QuickBooks Online revenue and customer outcomes. His responsibilities included the strategy, sales, marketing, and general business operations for the QuickBooks Online portfolio. Prior to this role, Brad served as Intuit’s VP of Asia-Pacific and Global Operations, driving business growth in critical international markets. He also served as PayPal’s Head of Merchant Services, Asia-Pacific and Visa’s Director of Consumer and Emerging Products for Australia and New Zealand, among other roles at the two companies.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up in a coastal town in Australian. After college at the University of Newcastle, I moved to Singapore to take my first role in the payment industry with Visa. After four years at Visa, I had various roles in the Payments and FinTech ecosystem including executive roles at PayPal in the early days in Asia-Pacific as well as Intuit, where I led the Asia-Pacific business then relocated to the US to lead the Quickbooks Online business. In 2019, I was introduced to Splitit and was blown away by the product, team and opportunity, joining in July and became CEO in October 2019.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
There have been too many for one to be a standout story, but many funny situations have occurred dealing with international business customs and traditions. I used to be a highly optimistic person, coupled with the gift of youthful ignorance in which I thought I could solve any problem, close any opportunity and will our teams to succeed. While there were some memorable ‘wins’, I’ve learned to be more balanced including seeking multiple points of view and to lead with data and hypotheses rather than opinions.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
There are two books that I continue to reference in my career. The first is The Advantage by Peter Lencioni, which taught me that without a cohesive team, even the best product and strategy will fail. The second is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, which serves as a handbook to anyone leading business in its early stages of growth. It’s especially meaningful due to many stories of Bill Campbell, former Chairman of Intuit, whose leadership principles were ingrained into the fabric of the company.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now at Splitit ? How do you think that will help people?
We recently announced partnerships with Stripe and Visa. These are two different partnerships and opportunities but both are critical to us building an amazing product for our customers. They will allow us to dramatically improve the speed in which a merchant can start using Splitit (in just minutes) and improve the customer experience for all installment payments.
Here at Splitit, our company works with the credit a consumer already earned instead of extending new credit. Our technology allows consumers to pay in installments using the credit they already have, giving them complete control of their cash flow. Unlike other solutions, Splitit is not consumer financing — there is 0% interest, no application, no late fees and consumers get to collect and use their own credit card rewards. We are always looking for new ways to help people be more responsible with their money and give them more control.
Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the central focus of our discussion. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
In stepping in as CEO of Splitit, I’ve learned that our purpose is to empower shoppers to make purchases more affordable, anywhere they shop. I also believe that we need to do so by not putting more debt into society and giving consumers the tools to take more control of their purchasing power.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
I truly believe that great teams win. It’s crucial to focus on the people and culture of a customer-focused organization in order to see success.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
There are no shortcuts in lead generation. It’s important to have relatable content and focus on helping businesses and people. Strive to build relationships with them by focusing on the benefits solved, not on the product we have or why we think we are great. Then simply be where your audience is. And continuously test, learn, repeat.
If a fellow CEO would ask you for advice about whether to bootstrap or to look for VC capital, how would you help them weigh the pros and cons of that decision?
Every situation is unique and it usually depends on the founders’ current situation. I recently had a conversation with a founder of an exciting new fintech business about this very question. If you are in a position to bootstrap, I believe it provides you more flexibility as you forge product-market fit while sticking to a principle. I personally believe that constraints can drive more innovation.
What measure do you use to determine the value of a company? What advice would you give to other leaders about how to get an optimal evaluation of their business?
There are a few key metrics I look to when determining value. First, what is the market opportunity — is it global or domestic? Is there a serviceable market today vs. tomorrow? What is the strength of the product? Can you look to NPS scores and other customer engagement metrics that will give insight into customer satisfaction? And also, differentiation — how hard is it to replicate the product or service? Lastly,
Financial performance must be taken into account, which is more about track record in meeting goals than a company’s current state.
What would you advise to a founder who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
I would advise founders and CEOs to disrupt themselves. Assign a team to build a go-to-market plan to disrupt you and war game the outcomes. Stick to your strengths and find key adjacencies to grow into — you need to shift the ‘S’ curve with a new audience, product, etc.
What are the most common finance mistakes you have seen other businesses make? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
Avoid promoting the vanity metrics that help you convince markets (and yourself) that you are growing faster than may be reality. Embrace the metrics that matter most, both the key financial outputs and the behavioral inputs that drive this. At Splitit, we try to focus on the inputs and know with sound economics, the outputs then take care of themselves.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to succeed in the modern finance industry? Please share a story or an example for each.
Solve the big problems your customers face as it relates to cash flow, money movement and trust.
But I believe the most important thing in order to succeed is to Simplify, Simplify. Simplify.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I can’t stress the importance of blocking time for yourself and be uncompromising in prioritizing at that time. I have recurring times blocked in my calendar where I prioritize myself, my family and my health. Whether that is time to workout, practice mindfulness or just think, it’s very important to be able to take care of yourself and your stress level. No one else will prioritize this time for you if you don’t do it for yourself.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Every person donates their time to help others — whether it’s at a charity, non-profit, community activity — anything that helps others. There is an opportunity for us to come closer together as communities, focus on helping others rather than our own interests. I think it’s important that businesses prioritize this movement and encourage employees to take time out of their work day to focus on helping the broader community. This may mean companies put aside a couple of hours from every work week to be used by employees in corporate responsibility ways of their choice, and most importantly, reward those that meet minimums, the same way we reward teams for meeting KPI’s.
How can our readers follow you online?
Twitter @ozdane and LinkedIN https://www.linkedin.com/in/bradpaterson