interview with flaunt digital’s cfo, chris ayres
Chris Ayres has helped grow Flaunt from a one-man band to a team of twenty five (and growing) thanks to his financial expertise as our Chief Financial Officer (CFO). While finances may sound boring to some, and Chris isn’t one to disagree with his hate of numbers, they are intrinsic to the running of a business. From helping to drive decisions forward to always being the butt of an age-related joke (secret Santa is usually a rough time for Chris with inflatable walking sticks galore👨🦳), it’s clear that Flaunt wouldn’t be what it is today without his input.
In this blog post, Flaunt Digital’s CFO, Chris Ayres, spills his secrets to building a successful career, the future of Flaunt and his favourite type of client.
What do you do at Flaunt Digital?
To put it in basic terms I’m in charge of all things financial – truly looking at the nuts and bolts of accountancy within the business. From account management, to financial reporting and payroll, I’ve been in and around agencies for 22 years (that’s showing my age) and finances are key to a successful business. It’s great to help drive decisions forward such as our Value Share Scheme and other benefits. Staff are the biggest cost to an agency for sure, but they’re also its backbone, so it’s important to ensure staff are happy in their work. And judging by the laughter in the office, I’d say Flaunt is definitely a place people want to be part of.
Although not necessarily part of my job title, I am involved in the strategic side of the business too, helping to bring in new clients. This is something that I’m looking forward to taking more of a front seat on in the future.
Why did you want to be the CFO at Flaunt?
There wasn’t really one stand out reason I decided to join Flaunt, but it was a lot of personal and professional reasons combined. Personally – I have known Lee since he was 17, he approached me and I wanted to help him find his feet in this new adventure he was taking. It was a no-brainer really, I believed that he knew exactly what he was doing from the start.
That married with my passion for the agency world. I love seeing the expertise that people bring, I enjoy helping people and businesses grow – from something very small to something big and the financial aspect of an agency is often clear cut.
What was your career journey before Flaunt?
I left school at the age of 16 after completing my GCSEs and had no idea what I wanted to do. I actually fell into accountancy and was qualified by 19. Believe it or not, I hate maths (👀)! But I do enjoy the business aspect of it and working with business and clients to help them grow.
I worked at various accountancy firms but found out very quickly that you can earn more money doing it on your own – so that’s what I did. I also worked for a Leeds-based agency as their Financial Director, building private clients alongside this. When I first started out at age 25, my firm had a total of 12 clients; today there are more than 1,000 on my books.
Where do you see Flaunt in the future?
It’s a difficult question, but I think Flaunt is becoming a major player in the digital field. We will continue to grow at the rate that we are, in an organic way. I think we’ll be taking on more younger people and seeing them through their careers, keeping our ethos and not forgetting the reason that Flaunt was set up in the first place.
We have no fixed plans, and no one knows exactly where we’ll go, but Flaunt will continue to be Flaunt.
Advice for someone wanting to get into finance?
Get straight out and into the workplace. You’ll have a better career with the deeper understanding that comes with practical experience. If you want to go to university and get a degree, try to get an internship so that you can work and train at the same time. Finance isn’t a pathway you can deviate in so much, it is much more linear than other careers.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into a digital agency?
Earn your stripes with college and university. Although this isn’t always necessary, a lot of agencies do look for a degree. However, for other agencies (like us) it’s more important to see passion and personality. So get in and gain some experience as quickly as possible, building yourself up from the bottom.
Can you tell us your favourite type of client to work with?
One that pays quickly (😅) No, but seriously… One who excites the team, is receptive to our ideas and appreciative of all the hard work that is being put into strategies. Some of what we do is often considered to be intangible work, meaning the value can be overlooked. It’s great when a client just ‘gets it’ and shows gratitude and excitement for the work we’re doing together.
Flaunt offers a wide range of employee benefits, would you say these are key to the running of Flaunt?
Yes. It’s a part of the business model that we are constantly reviewing and looking for new ways we can improve employee benefits. Some of our benefits include; adoption policies, maternity leave schemes, Bupa healthcare, yoga classes, a gym membership and much more. We try to be at the forefront and ahead of the game when it comes to staff benefits, but we are more interested in the welfare of our employees so that is always our number one priority.
Who do you think is top of the table tennis league?
Not me… I would say the best player is Chris (all eyes on Jamie👀) but I want to say that Joe is actually at the top of the league so we could have a new champion!
Five Quick Fire Questions With Chris
In our ‘5 keywords with’ section, we ask our brave interviewee to answer our quick-fire questions with just one word. Sounds simple? Let’s go!
- What makes a great digital agency?
- Why would a digital agency be important to a business?
- Where do you see Flaunt Digital in five years’ time?
Bigger (and better…)
- What’s the best way to measure success?
- And finally – what matters most to you?