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Terry Downing appointed Centtrip Group CFO

Centtrip is delighted that media and technology veteran Terry Downing has joined the business as Group CFO.

Terry grew up in New Zealand and, having dual New Zealand / UK citizenship, arrived in Britain soon after he graduated. His career has spanned senior roles in media and technology businesses ranging from international brand names like Fox, Warner Brothers and Turner, to start-ups and smaller private-equity-backed businesses.

We caught five minutes with our new finance chief to discuss his career to date and his new role.

Hi, Terry, to start us off, tell us what took you from Massey University to the Daily Mail?

I grew up in New Zealand, reading so much European history and thinking how cool it would be to go to these places. And, it is! You go to places like Rome and Prague and they’re just amazing!

And, I was lucky. Not long after I arrived in London, I had an interview with Sir David English who was Editor at the Daily Mail. I had done nothing in my short career to merit a management level job, but he liked me and he wanted a finance person who could talk to the editorial team. He said if they’ll talk to you, we’ll have a vastly better understanding of where we spend our money.

That job seemed to set the course for a career in media and technology…

Yes, most of those companies are people businesses. They rely as much on your ability to talk to people and get them to talk to you – and to relay information both ways in an understandable way – as they do on your technical or commercial experience. Because I'm more of a people person, I tend to fit that niche.

I like the challenge, too. Those environments are not easy to work in. I'm pretty resilient and, again, it comes down to your ability to talk to people and clearly articulate what the hell is going on in the business, to be honest with them about it and make them part of the solution. Those traits seem to have served me well.

What attracted you to Centtrip?

Centtrip has enormous potential and it’s going to be hugely exciting to be a part of realising that. The people are good, clever, committed, focused individuals. It feels like a place that is set for success.

Centtrip’s business premise of being an aggregator, or platform, for services also really attracts me. There are so many fintech players at the moment and they all have their little niche offerings – cards or FX or lending or whatever – and everybody thinks they are competitors, but they’re really not.

The lure of Centtrip is that opportunity to become a really successful aggregator of services.

Do you see demand for that aggregator, or platform, role from the client side?

Yes, definitely. I know from my previous roles that there’s a real desire – particularly in bigger organisations – for solutions, like Centtrip’s, that solve multiple problems. They don’t want someone who can just do their FX, can just run a card programme. They don’t want someone to just do expenses or just do payroll. They want fewer, but more strategic, suppliers that can solve multiple problems for them. It’s not always easy to win those clients, but once you do, they will never want to let you go because you are too valuable to them.

For example, US operations hate offshoring cash. They dislike the loss of control and the lack of visibility; the fact that cash gets locked in countries and they can’t repatriate it, either because of the banking system, legal structure or the cost. That’s just one problem that Centtrip can solve for them.

The proof is there, too. The way Centtrip has survived 2020, and the Covid-19 environment, is a proof-of-concept, in itself. It's not only survived but emerged leaner and more focused.

There is a spot in the business world for Centtrip.

Aside from Centtrip and your previous career roles, you are also a trustee of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a charity dedicated to eliminating child sexual abuse imagery online. Can you tell us a little about that?

You’ve got to give something back. So many charities struggle to get the skills they need because people generally want to be paid for their time. The work of IWF is not an easy topic – dealing with images of child sexual abuse – and the charity sector regulatory environment is undergoing significant change, so they struggled even more. I can afford to give IWF some of my time and I have experience and a skill-set that probably helps them, so I wanted to get involved.

The IWF has done a fantastic job of creating a hotline team, run by incredible people, who provide a review function to take the images offline, and an automated search engine that can track down the images. They also provide those services to gatekeepers and organisations where they are solving a serious problem for them.

As a media sector, we ought to be doing more and I wanted to contribute to addressing the problem.

Terry, thank you for your time and welcome to the team. We look forward to working with you.

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