A conversation with Matt Rama
Building a customer base from the ground up and shaping the direction of a brand-new business is a challenging but exciting proposition. P^werFinance Chief Commercial Officer Matt Rama discusses how he’s growing awareness of the company, and how conversations with Kiwi businesses are leading to new custom solutions that are changing the way we do – and view – finance in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Tell me about your role, and what a typical day looks like?
To be successful in my role you need to have a real understanding of what solutions our customers need and a desire to help them achieve that. I regularly connect with customers to get their feedback, discussing additional features or enhancements with them that can make their experience better, particularly when incorporating technology. I also do this with potential customers to understand their current pain points regarding funding and explore how we can help.
The team and I also regularly engage with third party organisations that play a critical role in helping us deliver financial solutions. This includes potential and existing lenders/investors, so we better understand their lending criteria and can then present them with opportunities and solutions that arise from our borrower customer base. Accompanying this, we work with our investor panel to co-design better financing solutions for our customers.
We also engage with Government agencies, which not only gives us a better understanding of different sectors and the issues and opportunities they’re dealing with, but it also allows us to co-develop plans to deliver on the Government’s objectives, while making a real difference in New Zealand – like designing finance solutions that also deliver better environmental and social outcomes.
What does commercial success look like?
Put simply, better outcomes for our customers and New Zealand businesses.
Outside of our business, the team and I also want to assist the Government to solve some of our trickiest and most pressing challenges, from housing to improving land productivity, sustainable development, decarbonizing NZ and equitable access to finance, by bringing together agencies, iwi and businesses with a real passion to help make a change in the New Zealand finance space.
When you’re developing P^werFinance’s commercial strategies, what things are at the top of your list?
When thinking about commercial strategies, we always have the customer top of mind. So, I usually ask questions around what a better outcome would look like for our customers. How can we improve the customer’s cash flow and user experience while taking out as many pain points as possible? How can we mitigate as much risk as possible while delivering a lower cost? Which participants in our wider network of contacts would be able to collaborate with the current project to help deliver these outcomes? How can we extract and utilise data from the financing process to measure both financial and non-financial outcomes?
And because our goal is to help deliver better customer outcomes, the next question on my list is ‘how do I let businesses out there know that we may be able to help them?’
How does what you do help P^werFinance achieve its goals?
By having conversations with existing and potential customers to better understand their business objectives and financial situation, I can then work with our tech, legal and finance teams to design additional features and capabilities our customers need within our technology stack.
The team and I also help drive awareness about the solutions and ways we are helping businesses, which supports the growth of our customer base.
Moving from a multinational consulting firm to a start-up, how has your perspective of the New Zealand fintech sector changed?
Not as much as you might think. I’ve always had investments in other businesses (including a few start-ups). I’ve also worked with other participants in the financial sector during my career, and while the scale of each one may be different, the objective is largely the same– to create solutions that deliver better customer outcomes with fewer pain points.
Why did you want to work for P^werFinance? Can you tell us what it was like to step into the unknown?
It was a big step. Giving up a senior role at the largest professional services firm was a decision my family and I did not take lightly. But the ambition and vision of P^werFinance really appealed to me.
The people were a big reason for the move. I had worked with some of them before and knew that we had a team that had a real chance to not only execute P^werFinance’s business strategy but make a real difference in the New Zealand market.
I also enjoy building up new businesses and seeing them succeed. Some people don’t like too much change, or don’t like exposure to any more risk. I’m entrepreneurial at heart, so the chance for success far outweighed the risk.
How has your previous experience shaped what you are doing now?
It’s had a huge impact. The roles and experience I’ve enjoyed in my career have enabled me to understand a wide range of businesses, business models, common challenges and issues, exposed me to many ways of doing things, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s given me a wide network of contacts. All of which made me a good fit for this role.
What key lessons have you learnt in your career – or since joining P^werFinance?
In my field, I think you need to really listen to people so you can understand them and their problems. Without a good understanding you are not going to be able to properly help them find a solution.
I have also learnt that we should all be working to create sustainable change to emerging issues. Creating solutions now for our kids’ future problems is the most rewarding and important work, and it has been fantastic to see so many people share that idea throughout my career.
Can you tell us what sort of impact the recent lockdowns have had on the business?
It has made it more difficult to connect with people, which is a key part of my role. On a personal level it has been quite draining, but hopefully we can start seeing our team and our customers face-to-face again soon. But being a fintech organisation, we can work from anywhere and use technology (like many others) to continue delivering to our stakeholders.
How would you describe your team?
I’m lucky to work with a very high-performance team, who were a big reason I joined P^werFinance. Along with all being great people, most of them are specialists or have excellent reputations in their respective sectors.
So, in summary – just awesome!
What’s the most enjoyable thing about working at P^werFinance?
The creative freedom and challenge to explore and grow an innovative financial solution, which has the chance to make a huge difference in the New Zealand market.
What are you focused on for the next 12 months?
Getting the word out. We want to increase awareness that we can help New Zealand businesses build innovative financial solutions, which will not only help them achieve business objectives but sleep a bit easier too, knowing they’re delivering a better service to their customers.
The same goes for the Government. We’re focused on game-changing solutions, working with them to achieve key social, environmental and funding objectives that look beyond short-term projects to create intergenerational change.
We also want to continue our conversations with the Ministries for Primary Industries, Environment and Kainga Ora who are interested in exploring ways to change and enhance different systems. They have been pro-active about working with us, and we hope to continue exploring new, innovative solutions to make each dollar spent by the NZ Government go further.
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