Ready FP&A One: From Assassin’s Creed to Battling Big Budget Bosses – David Fortin

As a lifelong gamer, David Fortin successfully landed  his dream job managing FP&A at Ubisoft – the $2.79 billion gaming company responsible for Assassin’s Creed, Driver, and Far Cry, For Honor. The former PwC auditor then decided to take on an even more daunting leap. He ran FP&A at  Saas Startup Polka “building the plane while we were flying” – cue  his boss leaving, learning how to fundraise, facing disinterested investors, budgets rejected by the board,  the CTO crying, before managing an eventual successful exit (in 2023 the company was acquired by Swedish enterprise software giant IFS). Now he is a full-time YouTuber teaching Excel and Microsoft Copilot – still using finance and analytics to build his business.

In this episode David talks:

  • PwC CPA audit coming up that way to FP&A
  • Quebec, loving video games and landing a role at Ubisoft
  • Moving from a big company to a startup and a steep finance learning curve
  • Building the plane while flying in FP&A
  • Learning the sales pitch of funding round facing questions and disinterterested investors
  • CTOs crying when the budget is rejected by the board
  • Due diligence and exit – lessons
  • Becoming a YouTuber making Excel fun again and grasping Microsoft Copilot 
  • How CoPilot and AI will transform FP&A
  • Scenario analysis in Copilot 
  • 20,000 hours of gaming and my favorite Excel function

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Full transcript

Glenn Hopper:

Welcome to FP&A Today, I’m your host, Glenn Hopper. I’m excited to introduce our guest this week, David Forton. David is a chartered professional accountant from Quebec, Canada. He started his finance journey in auditing at PwC before making a successful leap to FP&A back in 2019. His first FP&A role was with Ubisoft, the video game company behind hit franchises like Assassin’s Creed, far Cry, just Dance, and Rainbow Six. From Ubisoft, David moved to a SaaS startup called Poka, where he managed FP&A, and also played a pivotal role in securing the company’s series B funding, and worked them through a successful M&A exit in 2023. Now he’s changing his expertise into teaching Excel and Microsoft Co-pilot on his YouTube channel and LinkedIn earning rave reviews for his engaging and practical approach. Let’s dive into David’s inspiring journey and insights. David, welcome to the show.

David Fortin:

Hi, Glenn. Thank you for having me, man. It’s really nice being here.

Glenn Hopper:

Yeah. Excited to have you on. So let’s go ahead and dive in. I love your background. I kind of wish I had had done this. If I had if I could go back and tell my young self something to do, I would’ve loved to have started out with CPA and audit and just have that experience because my experience with it has been, you know, just coming up straight through the FP&A side. And I really think that’s a, a great way to, to round it out. So you, you started your career at Big Four at PwC before coming to FP&A. And I guess since you, you know, you started your career on one trajectory, what motivated you to make that switch? And to my earlier point, how did your auditing experience prepare you for your role in FP&A? Yeah,

David Fortin:

That’s a great question. So, I started an audit, just like a lot of accountants in my space, in my circle at school and stuff. So I really love doing audit. It was cool. It was challenging, as you may know, it was really long hours, though. We’re working a lot being with presidents of company, VPs of company, really at a real, really young age. But I always loved video games, and I was, you know, I’m in Quebec City, which is small town, kind of in Canada, and there’s not much work. It was pre covid, so you could not work like remote from everywhere. So I was just looking at jobs, you know, I was not looking for a leap into FP&A, but I always thought that graphs and charts, and I, I felt like I was more of a business guy let’s say instead of like journal entries and typical accounting stuff.

So I was, I was looking for jobs at Ubisoft because I really wanted to be in a company that I love, that I enjoy their products. I feel like it’s way easier when you love the company to actually love your job and enjoy it and, and put like 200% efforts into it. So that’s, that’s why I tried, or actually I wanted to transition from actually accounting, typical accounting toFP&A and it’s just, it was just a matter of like, it, it just happened like that. I wasn’t chasing an FP&A opportunity, it’s just that was the, the job that was open. So I just applied there and I felt like my experience in the Big four, they really train you to be ready for kind of anything. As I just said, you talk to president, you’re like 22 years old, you don’t understand anything about accounting, and you’re in there talking to president of companies asking about their financial statements and their budgets and all of that. Their BPRI felt like it was a, a logical trajectory for me to follow.

Glenn Hopper:

In FP&A, obviously we’re very focused on the income statement, but you have to have the free statement model and the understanding of the way, you know, what happens on the income statement, the way it flows through to the other financial statements. Did you find that your background in accounting and audit gave you more of a full picture understanding? Was that, was that helpful to you in, in some ways?

David Fortin:

Well, yeah, a hundred percent. First thing is that I saw kinda a lot of clients in like three year space. So I actually started in a video game company as an auditor. So it gave me some ideas of, of what you, you can do and, and like how the companies were structured internally. So, hey, I saw this graph at a specific place. Let’s replicate it at Ubisoft when I, I entered in my fp and a role. So it gave me a lot of idea, a lot of financial reflexes, you know, like I was helping the technician there with the reconciliation, the bank reconciliation. I was helping her a lot because I had seen so many in previous companies, which I could not have done, I think if I got on straight up, you know, like straight from school. So, so yeah, I feel like it was really helpful on top of developing my reflexes of like managing multiple projects at once. You know, when you’re in audit, you’re working on three clients at once. That’s why you work 70 hours a week and this work flows keeps coming and coming at you. So yeah, I feel like it was really helpful.

Glenn Hopper:

First FP&A role at Ubisoft and then, so that’s, that’s a big company, obviously, but then you moved to Poka. Yeah. And you’re now in startup world. So that’s that feels like a big shift. So I’m wondering, you know, and maybe relative to big company, but just in general, what were some of the, when you moved into the SaaS startup world, what were some of the unique challenges that you faced? Was there a different approach that you had to take to budgeting and forecasting in a startup space versus a, you know, big company.

David Fortin:

Yeah. Oh man, there’s so much to say. There’s so much to say here. When you’re in a bigger company, you actually have a team. You have a BI team that can help you. You have a lot of data to play with, which is actually cool, but sometimes can be overwhelming as well. So you, you play with all these video games that, that came out like in 2001, and you have all of this data. So yes, it’s a great play field. Like I can, I can say that like that, but like, it, it’s a great place to be. But when you get in a smaller company, there are some other challenges. Challenges, sorry. Everything is to be built. You know, you get in there, their whole company is running on Excel, which was not the case at Ubisoft+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++, of course, but then you get in there, it was 80 employees company when I first got there.

Just to give a little background on Poca, it’s a SaaS company, software as a service. We sold licenses. It was a app for manufacturing world connected workers, 4.0 manufacturing world. Just to give you a little bit background in the company. So it was really techie people. But I was kind of alone. Yes, we had a finance team. There was a budget in place, but in the startup world, you know, the, the girl that hired me first, she left, like, she called me and she’s like, Dave and I worked with her at PWC before. So she hired me, and I don’t know if it’s because of me, but she she left just two, two weeks. So she trained me for two weeks, and then she left, and she left me there with like, this whole Excel. But she was also the person doing the HR, the legal the, the FP&A like five hours a week when she had the time.

So that’s another that’s another world. That’s a different world. And you don’t have that BI team, so you have to figure it out by yourself with the data you have, which you don’t have much in a very small company. So you have to, you’re, you’re, you’re very used to play with Tableau. Like I was so hyped, you know, I had Tableau, I was doing cool stuff, but I get there and I’m, I’m back to Excel and, and we were just buying Looker. So we bought Looker. When we’re Looker licenses. We didn’t actually buy Looker, but you know. Yeah, we were, we were very, very rich. So, so yeah, so basically I was trying to play on Looker, but then again, there’s no like data hierarchy behind everything. So you don’t have any access to data and you don’t have any team.

So that, that was one challenge. So I really had to shift my mind of like, okay, I’m opening Tableau every day to just do pivot tables into Tableau, to, okay, I’m back to Excel, back to square one. Basically, so this really shifted my mind of like, I can do anything. I can be so much more creative and do some cool charts and, you know, like learn as we go as to, okay, we’re making a budget, we’re sending it to VCs, and it might get denied, and we, they want us to do 20 x instead of 10 X this year, you know? So that was, that was the kind of challenges I was, I was facing. And at the same time, it was really, really cool, really challenging, but really, really cool because I, I was not on my own. I had a team of course, but I had so much more I don’t know, I’ll say that in English, but I, I could do so much more on my own.

Like, nobody was telling me what to do. Like they gave, they just trusted me. They’re like, Dave, you can do this and that, and we, we trust you. Like we trust your expertise and it’s your, it’s your job to go on, on Google and, and ask people like Len to, to get some help on, on FP&A, like harder stuff. ’cause I was so young, you know, like I’m 30 years old right now, so I was 26 when I was there. So not a lot of experience, like yes, PwC, yes, ICSF long hours and all of that. But and that’s one thing I was really afraid I remember back then is like, how am I going to do it? Like, how, how I’ll do it. Like, I don’t know, I just do basic, basic chart in Excel. It was a really, really, really different world. And I hope I answered your question here.

Glenn Hopper:

Yeah, yeah. And it’s funny, as you’re talking, it’s one of the things I love about hosting this podcast is, you know, we’re, we’re such a, a niche group of nerds that I feel like, we could be having this conversation, like, on, on bars, tools, and telling war stories, because very similar to you. So my first CFO role was a, a retail business that had three locations, was maybe doing around three to 4 million a year in revenue. And I left, and I, I was, it was pretty much just me out of the gates. And I left a team. I was working in telecom, and I had a team of like 31 people working for me. And I had, we had, you know, this is, I’m dating myself, but this is like in in 2007. But we were, had Crystal Reports back then, which was huge.

And we were, you know, had had SQL guys and everything, and we were doing some really cool stuff. And then I came to this very small company that was looking to, they had raised a seed round and they were looking to leverage and take on some debt. But what I thought was really beneficial was I saw the way that a finance department could run at a large company, and then I knew the way we were able to present financials. And then I saw this small company where the only, they didn’t have a monthly close when I got there. They were, you know, basically their tax accountants were doing their books. That’s how, you know, small, they were, and I guess maybe they’d do a quarterly close or something, but to take them. And we were able to raise significant funds after that.

And I think that the big, the one of the reasons we were able to do that is we could make, we strove to make our financial reports look as clean and as detailed as at the big company. So it was kind of cool. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> to take, yeah. To take that and apply it at a, a small company. But of course, to do that, you have to find efficiencies. So you talked about, you guys were bringing in Looker and find, and trying to find ways that you could aggregate your data and, and get these bigger reports. Did you find that early on, you know, you’re startups, so you don’t have the, the staff you want, but the, and, and you’re sort of self-directing, but you kind of know where you want to get with it. Did you find yourself leaning into technology more? Or what were you doing to try to streamline processes?

David Fortin:

Yeah, so that a super great question. First of all, we, we were a kind of big finance team, like six people out of like one 150 when I left. So kind of a big finance team. And, and we were really close together. Like we, we all worked at PwC. We basically emptied the big four accounting firm here. So we’re really similar minded people. And, and really that, that really helped me for the fp and a journey, because if your actuals are, like, you can call straight up to the finance team and say, Hey, what’s, what’s this in the actuals? It helps what your forecast, and it helps explaining to the CFO what’s going on. But to, to, to jump on, on what you were saying, actually when I got there, the Excel were all Excel a hundred percent, and we were just onboarding Looker.

 But, but one thing I actually, I actually did is trying to, ’cause we were actually accounting the number of licenses we were selling all into Excel and also the usage from our end users or customers. And, and one, one project that I got in is like, can we analyze which tool that we need next? Like, is it an FP&A tool that we need next? Is it a CPQ tool? So I started going to to, to, to vendors and, and we, we started having a look. So what’s the next step for us? And, and, you know, like having this, this success, this team success at heart and not being selfish. We ended up going with not an FP&A tool, we’re not there yet because our data was kind of small still. So we went for the CPQ route. So we had an ERP, and then we onboarded the CPQ because the deal desk process was kind of hard.

And then we hired someone from deal desk and stuff. Yeah, we’re trying to leverage technology, but I was, I was going all in on Excel as as well, you know, like when I found out that XLookup existed, it literally, I changed all of my, of my workbook and it changed, it literally changed my life and, and with the sum Ifs and stuff. So we’re doing pretty cool stuff all with Excel. And we had a data guy, which was like, I would say more advanced, Excel more into like Google script and, and all of that. So we call, we call have help from him as well. ’cause We’re really the company values, like, we’re really like unified, solid team. That was pretty cool. But of course, technology is like, you need to embrace it, but I think it’s not always the answer. Like, sometime you’re just not there yet.

I think we needed like to have a shorter closing sequence at the end of the month. So yeah. So that was the next step when I left. But of course, we onboarded a few tools. We, we tried some stuff, you know, I remember we were on, we onboarded InsightSquared, which is a tool that plugs in onto your CRM onto Salesforce to give you some data insights and all of that. And they sell you all of this AI stuff. But we weren’t there as a company. We didn’t have enough data. So when you don’t have a big sample, the projection and the predictions are not any good. So we ended out churning all of that. So we’re testing stuff but at the end of the day, we’re trying to improve our process every day. And oh God, yeah, we, we did a lot of cool stuff as well.

Glenn Hopper:

So, and that’s the other thing about startups. I know, so when you got there, I think you were just a few months into your role at Poka, and then you get informed that the company was going for its series B mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> of VC raise. And I think about you know, seed round, even a round you can get away with, you know, not, not exactly back of the napkin financials , but it can be, you know, it’s that startup pre-revenue, pre cash flow kind of thing. And everything is sort of based on, you know, nested assumptions on top of each other. But by the time you get to series B, they’re pretty serious about how they’re looking at your financials, and you have to really stand up, you know, be able to back up your projection. So tell me a little bit about you, you walking into the company, being there just a couple months this is happening, what your role was, what you learned from it, and kind of how you got through it? Yeah.

David Fortin:

Oh man, that was a journey. So I got there September 8th, 2020. So just eight months into the pandemic, fresh from Ubisoft. As I told you, my boss that hired me, she, she left. So I got there, she trained me for two weeks, and then we start, so I have to learn the company. And it’s a budgeting session, or, yeah, so it’s, it’s budgeting time in October. So we do the whole budget. So I’m trying to learn all these new SaaS ratio. So name them, like the CAC ratio, the db, NER, the net retention rate, the gross churn, all of that I was learning. So I was listening to Saster podcast a lot back then during like, my commute coming back home. So I, I go into the budget, I’m meeting everyone, the VP of sales to do my budget and all of that. And then the CFO, my boss LP that I love still to this date is, is is really cool.

And he is like, Dave we’re going to this funding round in in January of 2021. So I was four months in, I had to do, I had to redo the whole budget. And then we started raising so it was covid. I think it was less crazy than before. I mean, they didn’t have to fly. It was all distance and all of that. But I was really implicated into building or financials as we, we, we literally build the plane as we were flying it, like literally, like we’re developing our ratios, calculating, does it make sense to make it to a trailing 12 average or does it not make sense to do that? Reading a lot of blogs, ke blogs, saster, all of this. And we were just on Zoom nonstop, my boss and I from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday through Wednesday, and then Thursday and Friday, we kept it kind of quiet a little bit.

And during the weekend sometimes we had to work, but it was, it was a teamwork. Of course, I wasn’t alone, but I had to build all these decks and I was literally jumping on the calls with the VCs, maybe like the second call. So the CEO and the CTO were going on the first call. I was coming in on the second call, and they wanted to, Hey, can you share your screen with Excel and go through your financials? Which was cool, is one thing that was cool is that we had great financials, so we’re pretty healthy. Of course we had a big cash burn, but we were into the phase like that. It was growth at all costs pretty much. Instead of like profitability. Like, it’s more probably that right now. That was a, a easy way in, I will say it wasn’t easy, but it was easier with these great financials.

So my role was really to make sure to answer any question they might have. Like, why does your net retention rate goes up in the first quarter of 2019? Which client was that? What’s their ar what’s their revenue? So I had to be really well structured to answer any question. Of course, you can always come back, but you’re at the process of selling. It’s a, it’s a sales pitch, right? So you have to be solid on your skates. That’s what we say in, in French, you know, like, you have to be solid. You have to, you have to own own your stuff, especially when you’re new at a company. So it was a lot of presentation meeting people that sometime didn’t really care of you, you know, like the, the SF people and, and you know, like there were just two feet on the table and, and asking you a question about your company that got sent there.

They they didn’t have a real interest in you. So that was a, that was a journey that, that was pretty cool. And I have learned so much just having to be part of this series B and having a serious role, because like, of course, I was the data guy, so if I wasn’t there one day, like it was my FP&A data, of course it could have done it without me. But I was the one that built every graph, every color I was putting in there, every bar chart, everything was me. So that, that was cool. That was a great role. Yeah.

Glenn Hopper:

And those meetings can feel like you’re doing a PhD dissertation or, or something. It’s great when you have a, a track record and you know, you show, you know, whatever your year over year growth is or whatever, but, and you have the data to back it up. But it was always, whether you’re talking to potential investors, debt providers, the board, upper management, very nerve wracking when you have to keep in your head all this data and understand mm-hmm, <affirmative> what your assumptions were and all that. And yeah, I, one trick I learned early on was don’t give them everything, you know, in the <laugh> in the first shot, because there’s always gonna be someone, it’s usually just one guy who’s just not, not even listening to you, he is just staring at a printed out copy of your budget, and he’s like fixated on one thing, and then he wants to go like three levels deep. Yeah. So if you give them the high level and just be prepared for that, that guys to go through. Oh, yeah. But it is, and

David Fortin:

Yeah. And I think to, to, to, to jump on that, I think the preparation was actually, you know, whenever we’re doing board decks every quarter, and we had so many nodes like below the slides, just in case, and, and most of the time it was at as well, you know, like A BPR for us, a business performance review. Like, okay, what happened during the last quarter? And really going deep down and, oh man, the CFO was so great. Like, every time there was something wrong in my data he could tell. Dave, what’s that? And I could not answer, and I will go back to the drawing board. Like, it’s crazy how experience is like, it, it shows in, in, in, in high skilled people like that. So I, I learned, I learned so much to be actually prepared and more prepared than less prepared. Because if they don’t ask a question, fair enough. But if they ask and you have the question, do you have the answer? Then you’re, you’re, you’re looking rock solid. And that’s great. You know,

Glenn Hopper:

It’s great when you have a CFO who’s that dialed in and is picking up on the very small things and being able to ask those questions. So that’s always a, an added plus, a lot of times it can feel like you’re just out there on your own. <Laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>.

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I know we talked a little bit before the show about sort of the perils of dealing with missed budgets, unexpected changes, kinda the stuff that goes along with with being in the startup world for you is, does anything stand out as something you dealt with, or you know, how you handled a particularly challenging situation? And if you have any strategies that you’ve used that you’d advise any of our other fp and a listeners for getting through these tough challenges that I know we’ve all faced. Oh,

David Fortin:

Yeah. And, and everything can change. And I think it’s true for any companies. But yeah, I had some Friday pm it was 2:00 PM about to leave, and the VP of sales calls me like, I’m not too sure about my forecast that we’re going to present to the board on Monday. Let’s change everything. And I was like, are you serious? Like, and then we change everything because he wasn’t too sure, like, you know, like VP of sales and stuff. So I go in and, and you know, it’s all about, I’ll use structure your stuff. Like, I used to have a lot of scenarios and, you know, all my stuff were kind of automated and stuff, so it was not too bad to change some slides, but that, that’s one thing that happened. You send your budget to the board and then it get denied completely.

And I saw, I actually saw that the whole team, I think, I think the CTO was crying. No, legit. Like, it was December, and it was like, Jesus, I can’t believe, because, you know, all the VCs were like, oh, it’s not enough. Like, we want you to go from a hundred to 400 employees this year. And they’re like, Jesus, how, how are we gonna do that? And we presented like aggressive, aggressive ramp up, maybe 300 and it’s not enough, and we have to redo the whole budget all over again. But I never get discouraged by that. I mean, sometimes I do, and I have another story about that, but I never get discouraged because it’s when you do an undo, like, it’s, it’s because you’re working, right? And it’s not because I, I try to never take it personal. It’s just a fast moving, it’s fast moving environment.

And, and, and we, they told me when I joined, you know, like, it’s not gonna be like as, as quiet as yof. Like, it’s, it’s a roller coaster. And I, and we’re using Slack, and my CFO had actually a roller coaster next to his name. So it, it was known, you know, but sometimes we, it’s, even though, you know, sometimes it’s just hard. Like, I could feel the pressure on my shoulders, even though I wasn’t the CTO or the ca, CEO it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s you that’s carrying the weight of like, all these, these numbers. And it’s like, it need, it needs to be changed, and we need to change everything. And, and, you know, when you change last minute, like how many errors it can be, and I remember, I remember one day we’re like, we’re revisiting the whole the whole revenue strategy.

So like, are we targeting new new, new region? Like, are we going Europe? Are we going Asia and stuff like that. ’cause It was kind of big company. And we, we, me and, and my, my previous CFO, we call that the, the June 3rd day, because it was June 3rd or something. And when I googled this day, it was like a, an emperor or a king that died this day. And, and it was the sales and the marketing that could not, you know, align. And we’re just texting each other on Slack. It’s, oh my God, this is June 3rd again, <laugh>. And so yeah, that’s that’s startup life. So I keep I, I have really great souvenir, really great memories of that. But it, it can be really hard sometimes. And if, if people listen to us and, and they can relate to what I’m saying right now, it’s just try to not care that much.

I know it’s hard. Like I was biting all of my nails. I was stressed out because it, it’s changing and you’re like, oh my God, did I make a mistake? Am I good in my projections and stuff? So, so yeah, try to not care too much. And I think it’s something I, I started early in my career. Same thing at PWC when I was in audit. Try to not care too much. You did a mistake and you’re auditing procedures or whatever, it’s fine. You’ll make it true. It’s not, it’s not your company. Like, you got this covered, you’re good. So, so yeah,

Glenn Hopper:

Your background <laugh> has been I mean, talk about trial by fire. You go, you know, you’re still relatively new to FP&A when all this happens, but you go through the fundraising, and then I know another part of your career is in, I, I think you said it was in 2023. You’re one of the first employees that finds out about this yeah. Contending potential merger. And before we give away the ending there, but, you know, due diligence is its own beast. I mean, it’s, it, you know, it’s poten it’s potentially more difficult than than the fundraising because you’re getting, you know you’re the acquirer or the person that you’re merging with the due diligence that they’re doing is they’re picking up every rock and looking under it. So you’ve gotta be really tight in everything you do. And I know, you know, that goes to the accounting side as well, depending on who’s, you know, Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> who’s acquiring whom. But tell me a little bit about the m and a activity and what your role was in that.

David Fortin:

Yeah, so I remember it was somewhere around March of 2023 or something like that. And the CEO comes in and is like, Dave Felix, which was the director of finance in my office, and we’re actually five only that knew what’s, what’s going on. And he is like, Hey, blah, blah, blah. You know, there’s an M&A on the table and I don’t want you to tell anyone. And I was like, oh, cool, cool. But, you know, am I working to lose my job in a, in a few months? You know, which is, it’s kind of scary when you think about that. It’s a bit, it’s a bit inception. You’re working very hard to maybe, maybe you got fired, you just don’t know. Maybe it’s not gonna work. Maybe it’s gonna be a lot of work for nothing. So yeah, we, we started the journey and then, you know, you question everything that you may like, is this accurate?

Are my numbers right? Am I following the right, the right ways of accounting stuff? So my role was really more into the beginning, I would say. ’cause I was really into FP&A straight, you know, I wasn’t doing nothing about taxes, nothing about accounting itself. Yes, I have financial statements, knowledge, but it was not like my specialization. So when it came to the due diligence we, we really had the team on, on our side with all the taxes. ’cause We’re selling to different states as well. So that’s a little bit more complicated. So they were taking care of that. But anything I could help, like the projection of the sales, what happened when their client churnedfive years ago I was the go-to guy, so I was making all of the charts for the financials, so more of the KPI cash burn and everything.

So that, that was my role, kind of. But it was also in serving ma ma many, many, many questions. So when there was like more people in the race until it got to the actual due diligence where there was only one person. So it was my role to like, oh, it’s 6:00 PM I’m about to leave. Oh, no, you don’t leave right now. We have 20 questions that just came in and you have to answer. And, and as it kept going, it was easier and easier, I think because we answered some question and, and, and we could reuse the, the form not the formulas, but the answers and stuff. So my role was really to be there. ’cause I had a really great knowledge of the company as well. Being in FP&A, you talk to every department, that’s another strength we have.

So, oh, what happened there? And, and we kind of have a, a small sample of clients. It was kind of easy to remember what happened. And so I was the guy to tell the stories and like, oh, I think this happened, and that, and we could data check and Oh yeah, that’s true. It makes sense. And then we could answer. So I was the go-to guy for a lot of stuff from bringing, bringing out the contracts on Google Drive from like, the past employee of the first day. The company just started to to answering the high level financial question, to preparing the decks, preparing some random decks as well, like only 3, 4, 5 slides with 15 hidden slides as well. Just in case, as I was saying, you have to over prepare because once again, it’s a pitch sale, and now that’s the real pitch sale.

You know, like, that’s, that’s that’s the real game. So it, again, it’s, it can be really stressful. And you’re in those meeting with the CEO, the CTO and every important people, the acquiring CEO and stuff. And like, you’re, I remember at one time I did a joke and everybody laughed, but the CEO didn’t laugh my CEO and I was like, he told me after it is like, that was close to be like a really bad joke. I was like, oh, no, no, but that was fine. That was fine. I was really close to the guy. And, and everybody laughed. And, but you know, it’s, it’s going almost on the edge. It was a little bit stressful. So yeah, it was a great great journey overall,

Glenn Hopper:

You know, with your background. So you were, I mean, in the startup world, everything is so fast paced, you’re exposed to so many things all at once. And so you’re in the battlefield, you’re in the foxhole, then you have the exit from Polka, and you’ve made a career transition at this point. So tell me a little bit about about what you’re doing right now.

David Fortin:

Yeah, yeah. So thank you for the question. So that’s, that’s the journey. As you can see, I can stop smiling, but on February of 2023, I started actually making Excel videos because I saw on the internet, Ms Excel, Kat Norton, that is doing some TikTok about Excel. And I’m a huge gamer guy, and I always been into the videos filming myself on Twitch. So I was like, Hey, maybe I could give it a shot, because I don’t see myself like keeping gaming nonstop. I don’t feel like I add value to the society. And so I started my YouTube channel, I called it the piggy bank accountant, which was brainstorming with the CEO of Polka. Once again, we’re like chilling. And he’s like, what about the piggy bank accountant? I’m like, dude, sounds cool. And I started doing videos, and then the M&Ahappens, we sell a company in June.

And I was honest discussion with, with my boss, I was like, I’m not sure if I want to get into this journey. He’s like, it’s a ride. You know, like, we’re gonna change everything. There’s gonna be new process, new boss, like new, new new everything. Do you want to keep going? And I straight up said, maybe it’s the end of it. You know, like, I didn’t go sneaky. That’s the kind of relationship I had with them. As you can tell, I, I really, I really love these guys, and, and it, it taught me so much, and I, I’m really grateful for that. So it started from there. So I was like, okay, guys, this is my two month notice. Like, let’s, let’s transfer everything over and, and then you guys can, can go on that new journey and I’ll do my things. So obviously I got a, a small package from the transaction.

I had some, some stock options and everything anyways so give me a, a leeway to like try my stuff and, and see if it works. So I kept going on my YouTube channel, one video a week. A lot of long form videos, started the LinkedIn game, and I found myself loving doing Excel teaching more than I, I thought. And now I’m transitioning over to Microsoft Copilot a little bit more because I, I really believe into AI. And here we are almost a year and two months since I first started my YouTube channel, 2000 followers. It’s going well. I’m having some video that are popping off, especially with Copilot, and I’m trying to make Excel fun again and, and, and copilot. And so yeah, that’s what I do. I love to make videos and I try to make them a little bit less boring than what we usually see in, in finance and accounting. So I try to bring my energy and my color to, to all of that. So yeah, full-time YouTuber until since August of 18 eight 18th of August, 2023. So, yeah. And I’m teaching Excel at a school here in Quebec as well. So yeah,

Glenn Hopper:

As a solopreneur leaving, you know, some pretty tense FP&A with a lot of requirements and, and things that were asked of you, I’m wondering, I know the answer for me because I do a lot of side projects and everything, and I think about for companies the kind of metrics and stuff they get. And then I think about my own, whether it’s personal finances or, or business finances. I have zero metrics on any of that <laugh>. And I’m wondering for as a solopreneur, like, you know, you’re watching your number of views and how, you know, the monetization and all that, but did you take anything from your corporate and, and startup fp and a and do you apply that? Do, do you have metrics that you track and, and monitor and aspire to in, in your business?

David Fortin:

Not yet, but YouTube studio is actually next level on the metrics. And I’m, as I’m starting to get some, some data, I really think it helps me. Like I’m actually exporting stuff to Excel, making my own dashboards about YouTube, some metrics that they don’t have, like how many subs, like how many days it takes me to get a hundred followers and stuff like that. And I’m actually thinking in a few years I might pivot onto this, you know, like helping people get clear reviews in their YouTube analogies. ’cause You have everything. When did people like the video? When did people drop from this video? What’s the, the, the age of your audience? Where do they live? Which city are they in? It’s infinite. It’s crazy. And you can compare your videos with all the graphs. Like it’s, it’s been launched since 48 hours.

You can compare all of them, you can group them. So it’s really infinite. So that’s really where I see my accounting and FP&A, it’s in my YouTube studio right now. ’cause Right now it’s kind of, it’s kind of not quite, but it’s still early in my journey. So I don’t have like employees, I don’t have like velocity tracking or, or whatever, or cash burn. I mean, of course it helped me a lot for my budgeting and, and my financials overall and, and number of leads and all of that. And I think where it actually helped me the most is all these interactions I got with the VP of marketing, helping her with her budget, learning what a lead is, what is the conversion rate, when, what all of this was, all of the sales, you know, like I had no clue if I kept into a typical accounting, corporate accounting, I would say with the debit and the credits, I will still probably have no clue, no clues of what’s a lead in all of this. But now I understand a little bit better what’s a email marketing, what’s a lead magnet? What’s, you know, all of that was part of my day to day before. So I really think that’s where I really, really get some some insights. Like no, I know what’s a churn rate and all of that. So I really feel that’s, that’s where it, it helped me like being into more into the marketing because we’re analyzing the results of the campaigns and all of that, you know? So yeah, that’s, that’s really where it’s, it’s helping me,

Glenn Hopper:

Again, going back to startup world, I always say that if you successfully survive the startup world, you’re basically getting an MBA, but it’s not, you’re not getting presented the stuff in a friendly classroom and case studies and all that. You’re, you’re out in the real world doing it, but you are way more than if you are in a big company where you’re kind of you know, stuck in your lane and you don’t see all that. At least you get exposed to everything in the startup

David Fortin:

World. Oh yeah. Even when we, when we did some household improvements to the office, I was building those those furniture. So that’s the all kind of skills you’re getting in a startup. <Laugh>.

Glenn Hopper:

Yeah. So, you know, it’s, you’re doing the Excel courses and you mentioned copilot and everybody’s kind of got their opinions on where copilot is right now. And I’m not looking to slam anybody or anything <laugh> <laugh> anything on the show. But I, you know, I think from us talking before the show, I think you and I share similar passions and we have a similar vision and understanding of how AI is going to change FP&A. And I’m, I’m curious, co-pilot or chat GPT or Gemini, you know, pick your mm-hmm. Pick your large language model of choice. But how do you see I guess two questions. How do you see that changing finance and accounting in how we work? And when you’re talking to people right now in your videos and in your courses, how are you explaining AI to them and what the functionality of it?

David Fortin:

I mean, I was early adopter of Chat GPT back with the actual M&A we were just talking, it was my first time going through an M&A. So what’s your first reflex? Like, I didn’t even have the reflex to go to chat GPT, but like, what’s the top 10 question that are, that I’m getting asked in an M&A? So you put this in ChatGPT, and it actually gave me some ideas on how to prepare well for this m and a. So that was in March of 2023. Chatgpt came out somewhere in, in 2022. And I found it like amazing. Like, and even my boss, I remember he told me, oh, that’s great you thought about that. I was like, yeah, I thought about that <laugh>. So yeah, that, that, that, that’s one thing as it’s evolving.

And, and you mentioned Copilot a little bit. I really feel like it’s your assistant, like your Copilot to, to see deeper in, in the, in the data. Of course, it won’t replace, I don’t think it’s going to replace any CPA, maybe more of the data entry level. We see Microsoft coming up with copilot for finance, helping you with the bank statement reconciliation. We’re not at a point, which is really, really amazing or flabbergasting right now. But I think if you will have asked me this question last Sunday, just one day before they announced GPT-40 , my question, my answer would’ve been completely different. But I tried lately to just put a chart into GPT-40, and just, just straight up a little prompt. Can you analyze that for me? And it was crazy. It gave me the year over year analysis. It gave me the trend, it gave me the recent decline.

It gave me seasonality. So every fourth quarter, like the last quarter of a year, it was, there was a boom and I was legit flabbergasted. So I really see it helping teams like, you know, just, just a quick draft, just like it’s working right now for the emails. Yeah. Like, you’re gonna draft a email, you just put your bullet points in there. Of course, it’s not perfect. It’s giving you all these words, unlock, unveil, all those weird words when you’re just talking about Excel. You’re like, slow it down a little bit. So yeah, that, that’s how I see it in, in finance. It’s, it’s going to be there and it’s going to, you’re going to have to embrace it. And we see tools that are, I’m, I’m pretty sure Tableau or or Power BI will eventually have its copilot, I think it’s announced, but like Tableau is gonna put some AI in there.

 A have you thought about that? And it’s gonna learn from your prompts and stuff. It’s, it’s going to be some, some l of a change. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be pretty nice. And, and how do I explain it right now to people? I think there’s a big, big, big work of awareness to do right now. ’cause Just, I was giving a class at the school here in Quebec yesterday, and it was government people. And I was like, do you know, do you know copilot? And she’s like, no. And I’m like, do you know Chad GPT? ’cause No, it’s been there for longer time. She’s like, no. And I’m like, oh, okay. You don’t even know Chad GPT. So we have a lot of progress to do. And, and when, when it’s gonna be in everyone’s end, I think it’s going to be two things dangerous, but very, very powerful at the same time.

So that’s where we need to do an education of how to use it and not take straight up copy paste and, you know, like paste it. Even with the, I hope you like my answer, you know, at the bottom when, when you prompted. So I still see a lot of this stuff.

So when I explain AI to people, I’m, I’m still doing some kind of awareness, like, here’s what’s possible to do. Here’s a V1. And I’m comparing to internet, and I’m a little bit young for that, but like I was playing Diablo 1 back then, and my mom would just pick up the phone and it will break my internet <laugh> and see so much progress we did. And now I’m talking to people like in, in the United, United States and Australia, and there’s like no delay. So that’s how I see AI right now.

Like it’s still in preview mode, but like what we saw GPT-40 oh on Monday, it just blew my mind and was like, that’s really going to change corporate world in a good way, I hope. I think, and we’ll have to embrace it. But right now I’m doing more of a awareness and into the FP&A world, I really see like where it can analyze your charts, help you brainstorm, help you prepare for a meeting. Hey, I have a meeting with the CFO of this company. Could you give me two, three liners of what’s this company? ‘Because I don’t have time to go on Google and go through all of his website and all the podcasts he went to. And I want to get prepared for this meeting. So I really think it’s really powerful and it’s going to be even more powerful in the near future.

Glenn Hopper:

Yeah. I think as we record this, 4.0 was just released a couple days ago. Mm-Hmm. I’ve actually taken some time and gone in a little deep on that. And I do, I was telling you earlier, I did a scenario analysis where I uploaded three years of full financial statements and then, you know, had it like you did with the chart, had it identify seasonality trends, all that do a full breakdown and, and basically like I would to a junior analyst, I just handed it the financial statements, said, spit this out. But then one thing that I’ve noticed, and I’ve been to limited success, like you said, we’re still in the early stages of this, but you know, I, I’ve had chat GPT through that data analysis tool do forecasts for me. So regression forecast, it’s fine with mm-Hmm, <affirmative>.

But if you try to get into some more complicated forecasts like ARIMAor this, we’re using SARIMA, the seasonally with the seasonal variations in there, and it, I’m seeing 4.0 has more reasoning capability because it actually, unlike the kind of the one shot stuff we were getting before, it has a whole process where it goes through the steps it’s gonna do, shows you the code, and then goes through and does it. So that says, I, I think that there probably is not enough understanding yet of how significant the change between chat GPT-4, turbo or whatever to four oh is, and it’s we’re getting closer and closer to where this is actually usable in a, in a production environment. So that’s pretty cool. Yeah.

Towards the end of the show. And I do always like to ask, you know, kind of get a little bit more on the, on the personal side with our guests to remind everybody that we’re all human. We’re not like the AIs. We have live lives outside of our fp and a world <laugh>. Yeah. So, I guess a question we always ask what’s something that that not many people know about you? Maybe something that they couldn’t find just by looking you up online or Yeah, that’s

David Fortin:

Really geeky. I mean I, I did mention it at the beginning of the show, but I was I was playing video games on Twitch before so filming yourself while gaming. And as you can see here, I have World of Warcraft boxes. And I’m always shy to say that. I don’t know if it’s, but it made me who I am. Right. But I have probably more than 20,000 hours played to this game. And I started, I was 12 years old. I have older, older siblings who my older brother and, and they got me into this. I was 12 years old and there, there was a command that the game slash played where actually gave you the number of, of minutes on hours you were online. And I had so many characters. And, and in back in 2008, I had only one character 150 days.

And that’s almost 20 years ago. So I can’t imagine I’m probably at 20,000 hours. That’s really nerd. But that made me who I am. It made me learn English. ’cause My main language is French. It made me a lot of friends, online, friends that are still friends to, to this date. I met people. So it really changed who I am. It it, it taught me the economy because there was like some auction outs in the game. It really made who I am. And now I’m making videos. And if I didn’t get into gaming, I will not be making videos or not be as good as I’m right now. But yeah, that’s, that’s really nerdy. When I say that to girls, they just run and I’m like, oh no, <laugh> <laugh>. So yeah, that’s who I’m <laugh>.

Glenn Hopper:

Alright. Love it. Love it. Okay. And our go-to question what is your favorite Excel function? Oh,

David Fortin:

I think it’s XLookup since I found that and it replaced every VLOOKUP that I had. It is just so powerful and I keep learning about it every day. Like we see new videos popping, like using XLookup and, and when I got a client ask me to help with Excel, that’s always what I put kind of everywhere hoping they have 365. ’cause If they don’t, I’m like, oh no, we have to deal with, with VLOOKUP or, or whatever, pivot table. So yeah, <laugh>

Glenn Hopper:

<Laugh>. That’s great. Alright, well Dave this was really great. Enjoyed talking to you and I, I love the, the work that you’re doing on putting out those courses and great hearing about your background. So thank you very much for being on the show and sharing your insights and experience.

David Fortin:

Thank you for having me, Glen.