CFO Spotlight

Shang Chuang | Klook

Klook offers travellers and adventurers around the world a simple way to discover and book activities, attractions and experiences through its innovative platform and app.

Founded in 2014, the startup has grown rapidly and now has over 30 million visitors to its app a month. We spoke to Klook’s CFO, Shang Chuang, for insights.

In short:

  • Technology is encroaching upon the traditional role of an accountant.
  • Today’s CFO is also an integral part of the business team, vs. simply preparing data for review.
  • Real-time financial data means leaders can find irregularities faster, allowing for quicker decision-making.
  • Communication and managing stakeholder interests are important skills for CFOs to master.
Shang Chuang, CFO, Klook
“It’s hard to predict what 2030 will look like [for CFOs]. I think having an awareness, experience and expertise around working with data and working with technology is super important.” Shang Chuang CFO, Klook
Klook business


What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs?

Shang Chuang: [Number] one is how we continue to navigate the pandemic. Number two is: How do we continue to focus on globalisation and digitalisation? I think [Klook’s response to] these two long-term trends will be important in differentiating our business from other companies. We have employees from 14 different nationalities. How do you continue to [manage] that? Our merchants are all over the world; our users are all over the world. We are seeing increased adoption for cloud-based solutions which allows employees to work anywhere. This allowed us to adapt and manage our financials when different offices were shutting down due to the pandemic. With NetSuite, we can continue to build on top of the system to fit our needs, and the multi-language user interface makes it easy to use for our employees. So, NetSuite is an example of the language of adaptability.

How has the role of CFO evolved?

Chuang: If you think about a CFO 10 years ago, it’s definitely someone in a suit and tie talking about numbers, how much money they have raised, how much budget they have approved. But really, the modern CFO is now an integral part of the business team. They're thinking about what value [can] be created. What are the problems that can be solved together? So really, the modern-day CFO is a strong communicator. They're able to communicate internally to build consensus.

Klook finance

How has technology changed the role of CFO?

Chuang: We're able to observe data on a more timely basis. With a cloud-based system and this new technology [in NetSuite], we're able to observe and monitor performance, the different changes, and the key metrics on a weekly or even day-to-day basis. In addition to standard P&L metrics such as revenue growth and margins, I would also look at working capital efficiency (turnover days) and variability of our cost base. We want to ensure we are able to continuously adjust and optimise our resources with the fast-changing environment. And we think about, "Oh, do I need to perhaps adjust my strategy?" or think about managing the cost better, [or discover] something that I wasn't aware of. With technology, we're able to identify any irregularity early on.

What technology will impact finance teams in the future?

Chuang: I think we'll continue to think about how we can use data more efficiently. [We will all think about] using machine learning and automation, even for finance. I think the traditional role of an accountant is slowly being encroached upon. For the CFO, or even for finance overall, it's more about how you harness technology to be able to use data to interpret and communicate trends, identify a problem to solve and create value, rather than just preparing data. I think we’ll continue to look at preparing data: How do we simplify, automate and use technology to do it, so we're able to empower our employees to analyse and use the data?

What skills will the CFO of 2030 need to develop?

Chuang: Continue to be a fast learner. I think that is very, very crucial, because it's hard to predict what 2030 will look like. I think having an awareness, experience and expertise around working with data and technology is super important. Being able to work with various stakeholders is also important, because taking a company to the next level involves continuous teamwork. That’s what differentiates us from machines and technology, right? We're able to reach across, communicate and [bring] various resources together to align on our goals and how we're going to tackle them.


Read more about the Klook story

5 Habits of Top CFOsHow the Best CFOs Consistently Make Data-Driven Decisions

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