Imran Hussain

Imran Hussain – Fractional CFO

Improv comedy, acting and debating are not skills usually associated with accountants, but Imran Hussain has used them to further his career in finance.

What’s your story?

I was born in the East End of London in 1978. I managed to get my education up to degree level and became a qualified accountant. I wanted to work in accounting so I joined the family business as a junior accounts assistant. I then bounced around for a few years from job to job and eventually ended up starting a part-time freelancing business in 2016 where I was freelancing in start-ups as a financial controller. I eventually turned it into a fractional CFO service. I have added a non-executive director service and am also helping companies set-up boards of directors.

What excites you most about your industry?

The most exciting thing about accounting in start-ups is the fact you are constantly involved with all aspects of the business. In large corporate environments you are pigeonholed in one area, but not in a start-up. In this type of environment, you get exposure to all aspects of the business. You must wear many hats and you are always firefighting issues that crop up. In my time I have taken on roles like head of finance, head of legal, head of HR, head of compliance, all in one job at one start-up. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Imran Hussain in nature

What drives you in your career to push beyond what other people consider normal?

I find that doing things that are a little bit different helps you become more interesting. To improve thinking on my feet skills I decided to take up improv comedy. To help improve my presentation skills I chose to dabble in a bit of acting. To help my critical thinking skills I took up debating. When you’re young, you are taught how to conform to the group norm, but as we age, we kind of learn that the normal can be a bit dull. I like to step out of my comfort zone, and I think that is a good thing.

What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?

It’s definitely been the ability to analyse financial statements of a company. I started analysing financial statements in 1992, whilst I looked for my first stock to buy in the FTSE 350. I learnt this all in school and applied it to buying stocks at the age of fourteen. My level of knowledge has increase since then, as I have been analysing statements for over 30 years now. I tend to look at financial statements to judge a company’s health and whether it fits into my investment strategy of having sustainable dividends.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Listening to people is a superpower. I find that people enjoy talking and I like listening. I have always been a good listener and someone who is able to connect with people through listening to them. Hostage negotiators are taught to listen very carefully, because it could mean the difference between life and death. They spend 95% of their time listening and allowing the other person to talk. They literally save lives by listening. I think it is the most underrated skill that people don’t really think about but can be a game changer.

Who inspires you?

My parents. They came to this country with nothing, and they have built up a successful life. They are retired now, but my dad worked for Ford as a welder for 25 years, and managed to pay the mortgage and kept a roof over our heads without one complaint or a missed payment. My mum worked as a seamstress for Littlewoods and eventually branched out to setting up her own business. All this whilst raising 4 kids. I never heard them ever complain once.

What have you learnt recently that blew you away?

I read an article the other day, which said that the accountancy profession will have 50% of all the current jobs automated by 2045. I knew that the accounting profession was under threat from AI, because in my lifetime I had seen accounting departments shrink from a 5-person job to two people. However, I did not know it could happen so quickly. It’s scary how fast AI is developing and how the workforce will be redefined over the coming decades. There’s an argument for universal basic income now, which is another can of worms I dare not talk about.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

I’m into personal development in a big way and I always look for opportunities to broaden my horizons. If I had my time again, I would have gone into personal development younger. When I mean younger, I mean in my school days aged 12 or 13 years old. I really started developing my soft skills when I was 30 years old (I’m 45 now). Up until then all I was focused on was my technical skills, however the technical tasks will be totally automated, and you will rely on your soft skills more and more with the rise of AI.

How do you unwind?

I tend to do physical activities such as going to the gym, yoga, and I want to take up Muay Thai. I also read a lot of personal development books. Anything that develops me and my knowledge. I also used to dabble in some Improv Comedy, but don’t seem to have the time anymore. Once my diary clears up, I will try to fit that in again.

What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your career?

When I was 30 years old a friend gave me a Tony Robbins CD (I know I’m old). I played it and was hooked on personal development. Until then I did not know about this industry and then later, I was on a course with CIMA in 2013 and they were talking about AI and Human Capital Taxes, how the future will be about people’s skills and the world will be revolutionised. This was way before AI was on anyone’s radar. It opened my eyes to the essential need to invest in my soft skills rather than my technical skills.

Everyone in business should read this book:

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. Chris is an ex-FBI hostage negotiator, and he tells all about the secret tactics he has used in high stakes negotiation. He transfers these tactics to the board room and does so in an engaging way. A very good book, a must read for everyone.

Imran Hussain in nature

Shameless plug for your business or career:

I’m a fractional CFO by trade and now I spend most of my time buying businesses, scaling them and then selling them. I also do Non-Executive Director work for start-ups and SME’s businesses globally.

So, if you have a business to sell, a NED vacancy, or you want me to build an advisory board for you from my network of over 300 NED’s don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

How can people connect with you?

The best way is to reach out to me is on Linkedin or my website. I’m on there daily and I read all my messages.

Social Media Links?

This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.

About The EnterpriseZone Writing Team

Shining A Light on the Small Business World and highlighting Entrepreneurial Investing Opportunities.

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