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During The Pandemic, We Expanded Product Suite That Helps Businesses Digitise: CEO ClearTax
In an interview with BW Businessworld, Archit Gupta is the CEO of ClearTax, talks about post-pandemic times and how it will impact overall strategy and more.
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Clear has achieved much in transitioning towards a stronger digital play. How are you leveraging technology and fintech in the present and post-pandemic times to play to Clear’s strengths?
Clear has expanded from an e-filing tax platform to being a full stack financial services provider. Today, we offer tech tools across taxes, invoices, wealth management and credit for businesses. It has built ClearGST, India’s largest GST filing platform. During the pandemic, Clear expanded its product suite to include ClearOne that helps small businesses digitise and streamline their invoicing process as the government is moving towards a completely digital invoicing era. The company also launched Max ITC for businesses to maximize their savings with input tax credit claims.
What are some of the investments in the short-term and long term that you see as crucial? How will this impact your overall strategy?
The company envisions to build India’s largest B2B Business Network. It will connect Clear’s customers with their business partners - vendors, customers, distributors, accountants - on a single platform. Through this network, Clear will solve for use cases across procurement, invoicing, payments, and collections. B2B payments and credit is a critical enabler for the network.
Post the crisis of 2020, how did your leadership style at the company change? What were some of your lessons that are in play even today?
As a leader, I learnt to communicate more often to provide a more accurate description of reality and be as clear as humanly possible about what I know, what I anticipate, and what it means for the company and our people. The company’s leadership became more clear in communicating where people can direct their energy.
How do you infuse dynamism in forecasting the quarterly and annual outlooks in a changing world?
When the lockdown triggered, it led to a complete change in the revenue trajectory. There was a negative undercurrent and the prevailing sentiments turned everything upside-down. Our business, fortunately, remained resilient. As businesses started opening up after the first two months, the government also started focusing on tax collections, making the platform rebound strongly and surpass the pre-COVID levels. We were in the right place at the right time. We were solving an important problem as digitisation continues to accelerate in India and COVID is catalyzing the tech adoption even further.
From a risk management perspective, as the concern over cybersecurity looms, what are some of the steps your company is taking to help mitigate the risk and ensure that departments such as Finance, IT and the likes partner to strive towards the same goal?
Clear’s software incorporates several entirely new technologies that improve the level of protection against online fraud and malicious attacks and shield against the risks of working on vulnerable Wi-Fi networks. Our data center (AWS) is ISO 27001 certified, which gives completely secured access to VPC promises with authenticated access only. The platform also provides our customers with scalability and flexibility.
Overall, the company offers bank-grade security to its customers. Being an intermediary, we follow every regulation set by the department and get audited by the banks regularly. The largest companies and banks trust us with their data.
Learning from the pandemic, what are the new list of skills that you expect from an ideal CFO?
CFOs with exemplary communications skills are an asset to any company as they are no more just focused on communicating business performance with investors and shareholders but also with employees, customers, suppliers, and the community. CFOs now have a proactive role in building team confidence through transparency and open information sharing. Good communication skills enhance employee loyalty and understanding of the business, ultimately supporting company performance.
In addition, CFOs now are expected to not only report the numbers but also share the story behind them as digital dashboards now make a company’s financials more widely available internally. The key skill is to make sense of that data and be a great story teller.