Thomassin had to double the size of his team to meet capital market requirements. However, he says that announcing an IPO can help you find the talent you need, as it makes the role attractive to those with the right experience.
Moore also recruited a strong team going into the IPO. “We bolstered accounting, tax, internal audit and SEC reporting staff,” he says, “and we had great support from highly experienced outside counsel and our primary sponsor’s capital markets group. We recruited the best around, as the stakes were high.”
Working with the CEO
The CFO’s job is to understand why the company is listing, where it is heading and the next steps, so that they can explain this to investors (often in a series of roadshows in the weeks leading up to the IPO). They must then add color and detail and align this financial messaging with the overall story the CEO wants to tell.
Moore says: “The CEO and I enjoy a great partnership – we communicate and understand each other well. In investor meetings, he was visionary, high-energy and optimistic; I brought a complementary balance of steady and measured confidence. Investors need to see that the management team is stable and high-functioning.”
Thomassin agrees, adding: “If you and the CEO are not aligned on the story, people will see that and lose trust and belief that the listed company will be solid and professional. Our story was that Delivery Hero was getting into emerging markets early, with huge growth potential.”
How did it feel after listing?
The Delivery Hero IPO was the largest in Germany that year. Thomassin says it was a fascinating adventure and he learned a lot about himself and the company. But the overwhelming feeling on listing was relief: “It was the reward for years of hard work, but we did it for the employees and investors,” he says.
His advice is to enjoy the weeks on the roadshow, as you may never experience feelings like that again. “Those three weeks were pure joy for me,” he says.
As for Moore, he found it to be an intense and high-pressure period. “There was a great deal riding on this transformation, and I felt a high degree of responsibility to get this right for all stakeholders. Granted, I was able to lean on some of my past experiences, but likewise I had to push myself to fill in gaps. Ultimately, it was comforting to look around the table and see the overall strength and quality of the project team.”
It paid off, as the share price shot up on the day of listing. That evening, National Vision held a celebration in New York. “It was such a special evening for management, external partners and guests,” Moore recalls. “We felt great that we’d delivered a successful IPO, but I knew it was only a milestone. The work you do in the first year of being public is even harder. There was a mixture of emotions for me that night – celebration, relief, and the realization that this was just the beginning of the public company journey.”
Public company differences
CFOs in listed companies spend more time on external investor relations and boardroom responsibilities compared with those in private companies. Thomassin says that, since going public, he travels to roadshows and speaks to investors much more regularly.
“Investors want to see the CFO several times a year and the job is much more about making sure they understand the company’s development,” he explains. “I like it, but if you don’t like traveling or meeting people, it’s a nightmare.
“Also, there is more regulatory stress, not to mention an element of personal liability for public company board members in Germany. But if you have the right people around you, you can manage that.”