The Curious Case of Trintech: How a $40 Million Firm Grew into a Start-Up

 

Dallas — Having recently turned 22, Trintech, a financial software developer, is now hurrying to turn back the clock and devolve its organizational rhythms into those more closely associated with a software start-up.

Of course, converting a $40 million firm into a nimble entrepreneurial enterprise is no easy feat. Still, Darren Heffernan, CFO and EVP of Trintech believes that the firm has already made some significant steps toward reaching its goal. The most significant, no doubt, was its decision to go private back in 2011, a judgment that led to the developer’s acquisition by Spectrum Equity Investors of Boston.

Darren Heffernan“A number of years back, we made a number of strategic acquisitions to put it all together, but the challenge we faced was that we needed time to take all of the different pieces of these entities and put them all together — and we just could never do it as a public entity,” explains Heffernan.

Over the last 18 months, the 200-person firm has experienced employee churn of close to 60 percent as the firm reformulated its view of Trintech’s ideal job candidate.

Heffernan explains: “We are changing the whole DNA of the organization. We’re a company with 22 years of history, but we need to behave like a startup. And so our mantra became let’s get the right people on the bus, and most importantly let’s place them in the right seat.”

Asked which world — public or private — he prefers as a finance leader, Heffernan once more focuses on how time impacts choices.

“I do think that I enjoy it more on the private side, because on the public side, each quarter you’re putting your name to the numbers with the laws behind you, and in a private company, while you do have your eyes on the numbers, you also have a long-term perspective — and you can allow yourself the luxury of getting to understand the business in greater depth,” Heffernan explains.

Along the way, Trintech has steadily amplified Cadency – its “record to report” brand of financial software that has helped the software developer to accelerate its advance into the middle market as it touts its growing cloud computing credentials.

Says Heffernan: “What we find is that the decision-makers inside middle-market firms have more responsibilities, and rather than deal with multiple solutions, Cadency covers the entire record to report space. This is about educating the market and having them look at the bigger picture — as opposed to looking at a specific disclosure management tool or a specific reconciliation tool.”

As Cadency’s ascendency increasingly appears to be the firm’s central mission, the United States has become its central hub. A number of years ago, Trintech’s management opted to move the firm’s headquarters to Dallas from Dublin, Ireland, where the firm was originally founded.

Other clues exposing Trintech’s evolving organization are revealed by how the firm’s finance leader allocates his time these days.

“I spend a lot more time visiting customers, prospects, and partners. My whole focus is outward-looking. I’m out there primarily with our salespeople who are making calls on clients or partners. I also spend time with our professional services managers, making certain that our customers are happy with what they bought,” says Heffernan, whose insights into the changing role of a $40 million firm’s CFO are perhaps worthy of some added luster in light of the fact that Trintech’s own offerings are designed to help finance leaders transform their own leadership.

Heffernan explains: “CFOs are looking to shed some of their responsibilities so that they can become more strategic within their organization. The role of the CFO has become a bit more exciting than it has been.”

Asked whether its private equity partner shares Trintech’s point of view when it comes to technology adoption and the finance function, Heffernan replies, “Spectrum bought into the idea of what we wanted to achieve. This is not a short-term play by any stretch — we’re here to change how finance professionals actually operate.”

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