Role of the CFO

Coworking with Alex Valdes

He's the CFO of Trust Stamp
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· 4 min read

Coworking is a weekly segment where we talk to CFOs and other leaders in the finance space about their experiences, their companies, and the larger economy. Let us know if you are – or you know – a CFO we should interview.

Alex Valdes is chief financial officer and executive vice president at Trust Stamp, an Atlanta-based provider of AI-enabled identity verification software. He’s been with the company in various roles since 2016. In his time with the company, he helped it grow from startup to public.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in finance?

My job is trifurcated into three principal functions. First, I gather, organize, and communicate key financial information internally and externally for decision-making. Second, I manage various back-end operations to ensure the business’s front office (product and sales) has the infrastructure to produce competitive products and win more customers. Finally, the most exciting part of my role is to exercise creative muscles by partnering with managers to plan and execute strategic objectives.

You’ve been with Trust Stamp since 2016. How has your role changed over that time?

My role has evolved rapidly as we scaled the company from four guys in the basement of a shared working space in Atlanta to over 100 full-time employees and contractors with offices worldwide. Early on, I was fortunate to spend most of my time working on all sides of the business, including product and business development, customer and technology research, fundraising, pitch competitions, legal support, compliance, risk, governance, and more.

In 2019, we decided to take the company public using the Regulation A+ process. My entire focus shifted to building the financial reporting systems, starting with hiring and training a team of CPAs, plus organizing legal and compliance staff. This had to be done concurrently with implementing a myriad of internal controls and operational processes to support our public filer status.

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When we started the going-public process, the entire reporting function was a two-person team, including me! By January 2022, we had grown the team to over 10 people and completed the company’s Nasdaq listing by ringing the bell in NYC. This was an incredibly gratifying experience, second only to the satisfaction I get watching the team perform at a high-level, quarter to quarter, with seamless coordination and effectiveness.

What’s something we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile?

I’ve lived in Malta for the past two years after their government offered our company grants to build an R&D campus there.

What advice do you have for future CFOs?

Don’t fall into the trap of seeing market conditions as linear. Your business operates within cycles powered by cause-and-effect relationships. When we started the company in 2016, the mandate was “grow at all costs.” This changed dramatically in 2022. Understand and take advantage of the cycles, but be prepared to pivot if/when the conditions change.

If you weren’t a CFO, what would you be?

A military pilot. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida next to the largest Air Force base in the world. I remember being surrounded by F-16s and F-18s conducting training missions over my bay town. My favorite experience as a kid was going to the base to watch the fighter jets perform “touch and go” maneuvers.

Coming full circle, as I was sitting in class in my first semester of college as an undeclared business major, my Accounting 101 professor walked in wearing a Top Gun jacket. I didn’t know a thing about accounting at the time, but I thought, “This guy is pretty cool, so I’ll give it a shot.” The rest is history.

News built for finance pros

The latest news and insights corporate finance professionals need to know to keep up with their constantly evolving industry.