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Recently, Ramp turned five. Many people have asked how my role has evolved since joining Ramp in March 2021 as the first controller. 

While my overarching goal of telling Ramp’s financial story has stayed the same, the team and processes that enable us to tell our story have changed significantly. We're now a six-person finance team supporting a company of 600+ employees. Here's my advice to anyone who is working on building and scaling a high-performing accounting team.

1. Get your accounting right before doing anything else

When I stepped into my role, Ramp had just closed a $150M debt financing deal with Goldman Sachs, mandating the delivery of audited financial statements by the end of the summer. 

This was a tall order since the company’s books had never been audited. Our accounting functions were in their infancy. My priority in my first 100 days was to create a pristine chart of accounts that would reflect not only our business performance at that time but also our future story. Back then, Ramp had just one product (our corporate card), but we knew we'd soon be launching different product lines and would need financial statements to show the growth of different revenue streams over time. 

I also spent a lot of time working through the presentation of our financial statements and key accounting metrics. How you map your accounts greatly influences how people interpret your financial statements, so it was important that our auditors and management team agreed on our revamped accounting nomenclature. With our framework established, I was then able to reassess all transaction records dating back to Ramp's inception, paying particular attention to equity accounting, which is typically audited thoroughly and requires in-house management.

2. Structure your team for long-term success

I have a team of six super accountants at Ramp. It is a small team, but they are mighty, focused, and efficient. Each person we've hired plays a key role in telling Ramp's financial story. Here's how we have organized the team: 

  • Corporate accounting: This team was the first to be built because they're responsible for our core operations. My first hire was ​​a senior accountant who helped us get our month-end close to 15 days. He was essential in meeting our reporting obligations to our lenders. I then hired our payroll accountant to assume full control of our payroll processing, after our migration from a professional employer organization to a new provider. Soon after, we brought on board our senior accounting manager who helped us transition to a more robust accounting provider. She works daily with our staff accountants to further streamline our processes for equity, accounts payable (AP), cash disbursements, and more.
  • Product accounting: Given our multi-product strategy, we knew early on that we would benefit from a separate product accounting function. We strategically hired an accounting manager with the necessary coding and programming skills to automate our reporting for our various products, in collaboration with our engineering and product teams. With his help, we’ve been able to achieve a 5-day close.
  • Technical accounting: This is our newest function. We recently brought on a senior manager to help us document our accounting treatment to be fully compliant with US GAAP, FASB, and the SEC. Put simply, she is responsible for helping us maintain a great relationship with our Big 4 auditors. As a former auditor, I can attest that auditors are happiest when you keep them updated with constant memos detailing how you are improving your processes.

We've been able to keep our team compact even as the company has grown to over 600 employees by investing in well-defined roles and automated processes that allow us to focus on strategic projects rather than menial tasks. In the upcoming months, we plan on hiring for other functions that I have been handling with our external advisors, such as taxation and internal controls. 

3. Embrace evolving controls

Thanks to Ramp, we've had strong controls in place for our credit card and accounts payables since the company's early days. Ramp's approval workflows and auto-coding functionality help us avoid the T&E nightmares and cash disbursement issues that often haunt fast-growing companies. 

However, as our company grew, we needed to demonstrate more sophisticated controls for auditors and upmarket customers. Additional controls tend to add time to processes, so automation has been key to helping our team stay agile and efficient. Some of the key initiatives we took on over the last couple of years include: 

  • Building out more granular spend programs and approval workflows in Ramp to control procurement and ensure earlier visibility into committed spend
  • Switching from QuickBooks to NetSuite to automate consolidation across multiple entities
  • Implementing FloQast to help us automate our close management process 
  • Completing our first Big 4 audit with Deloitte to validate our account structure and reporting accuracy

Our journey continues. These days, we are focused on further automating product accounting. Our goal is to seamlessly integrate transaction posting and reconciliation within NetSuite. We are also working closely with advisory firms to meticulously document our processes and conduct gap assessments to meet future audit and regulatory demands. We remain on the quest for smarter controls, particularly in our reconciliation processes and complex accounting reconciliations to minimize manual tasks and human errors.

There are some touchpoints and controls that we’ll never be able to automate, for good reason, such as reviews and sign-offs. The key to making sure that these tasks don’t consume all of your time is to create exception reports and checklists that clearly define and document the evidence.

4. Forge a partnership of equals with Finance

I often hear that the accounting function is inherently not strategic. In my experience, this is not a valid assumption because accounting is so foundational to your company’s financial strategy. Moreover, there is a misconception that Finance is forward-looking while Accounting is just focused on the past. I disagree—accounting plays a crucial role in unlocking strategic areas for any business because it teaches the lessons of the past and controls the present.

Accounting functions are among the first to be built when companies are starting out. At Ramp, I see our team as the ones responsible for keeping the lights on—by ensuring that our vendors are happy (through AP), our employees are compensated (through payroll), and our stakeholder requirements are met in full (through compliance and financial reporting). 

More importantly, our team works hand-to-hand with the rest of Finance to support go-to-market initiatives, strategic finance, risks, and product marketing. I sit down regularly with our FP&A lead to discuss what the books should look like at the end of every month and review budget deviations. We scrutinize product metrics with our Product Finance team to understand our financial results and create expectations for new products and functionalities. The team partners with Strategic Finance to understand what business questions may be coming up in the next three, six, and 12 months so we can start developing new reports or controls that may be required. 

This partnership with Finance is a work-in-progress, but it is ultimately a long-term competitive advantage that will allow us to provide accurate, timely, and concise information to our executive team on what’s working (or not) in the business, down to individual initiatives.

Stay focused on the journey

Building and sustaining a high-performing accounting function requires adaptability, collaboration, and an unwavering focus on the ultimate goal: empowering your organization's success. As you help your company navigate growth, prioritize effectively. Stay committed to articulating your company's narrative through accurate financials, no matter the twists and turns that may come your way. 

 

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Senior Controller, Ramp
Born and raised in Haiti, Edwine has lived in Canada, France, Grand Cayman, and currently resides in Boston with her family. She is a CPA and has had many leadership roles at EY, PwC, and Circle. She joined Ramp in March 2021 as our first controller.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.

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