Workiva’s CFO on growth and ESG data

August 9, 2021

First published on FORTUNE, August 9, 2021 by Sheryl Estrada.


When entering college, Jill Klindt, CFO, SVP, and treasurer at Workiva Inc., a software-as-a-service company, thought she'd have a career maintaining the health of animals, not as a finance leader.


“I was going to be a vet,” Klindt told me. “I really love animals. But as a vet, you have to have a little bit of a hardened heart. And I couldn’t quite get there.” So, Klindt pivoted toward business, earning a degree in accounting from Iowa State University. She'd eventually lead in an era of digitization and work on environmental, social, and corporate governance solutions. “I do think that I'm perfectly suited for the CFO role at this company because I know it so well,” Klindt says. 


Workiva trades under the ticker WK. It's based in Ames, Iowa, and led by President and CEO Marty Vanderploeg. The company provides a collaborative cloud platform for financial, regulatory, and operational reporting.


“We started out as just a [U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] reporting company,” Klindt says. The platform evolved into powering both financial and non-financial data reporting for companies and even "using it for cap markets transactions if they're going through an IPO," she says. Klindt has worked at Workiva since its inception in 2008. She began as the controller and served in several leadership positions. Klindt was appointed CFO in February.


Workiva’s total revenue for the second quarter of 2021 reached $105.6 million, according to the earnings report released on August 3. This is an increase of 25.9% from $83.9 million at the same time last year. In the past year, its stock price has continued to climb from a low of $56.86 on August 6, 2020, to $133.14 on August 6, 2021. The company raised its full-year revenue guidance range from $430 million to $432 million.


Some of the growth is a result of tailwinds in the market from the acceleration of digital transformation, remote work, and the need for collaboration, Klindt says. In addition, “customers benefit from using our platform when they have compliance requirements,” she says. “The SEC, and some of the U.S. and Canadian regulations, do drive a lot of our business,” Klindt explains. To some extent, increased activity in SPACS is an example of a business driver, she says. 


Building upon the momentum, this past spring, Workiva announced the addition of an ESG solution on its platform to automate a collection of data to build a strategy within ESG frameworks. As there’s more regulation around ESG reporting, Klindt foresees, in the long term, a standardized report companies can complete on Workiva’s platform, she says. And XBRL, Extensible Business Reporting Language, is “probably likely to become a component of these reports in the long term,” she says. “We have XBRL tagging technology directly in our app,” Klindt says. “So, we're well-aligned to provide that if that ends up being the way that the market is going.”


ESG is an area where Klindt will represent her company. “We are the first SaaS company to join the United Nation's Global Compact CFO Taskforce,” she says. “What we really hope to do is to drive that conversation around technology and how technology can solve some of those challenges that companies are seeing around ESG regulations.” The task ahead for Klindt will include working with fellow members to examine quantitative and qualitative methods for ESG measurement and come up with best practices that will support the UN's overall sustainable development goals, she says.


A key leadership learning from Klindt's time with Workiva? "What I've learned about growing teams ... if you get great people, things come together," she says.


For the latest news and information, visit The Workiva Newsroom

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