Founders Q&A: Laurent Descout

Get to know our CEO and Co-Founder Laurent Descout

Laurent Descout

CEO and Co-Founder

As CEO and Co-Founder, Laurent is always focused on Neo’s long-term vision and keeping the whole team on track to achieve this.

Learn more below

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.  

I was born in Paris and grew up in a small town near Versailles. I studied banking at Paris Dauphine University and graduated in Economics from Brandeis Business School near Boston. I then started my career at Vocation Finance in Barcelona in 2003 and have not left the city since then.
In my spare time, I love to spend my time with my 2 kids (9 and 5) and to keep active through running.

2. Tell us about your role at Neo

I think what describes my role best is the word “coordinator”. I try to ensure everyone is going in the same direction which involves keeping many different parts and cultures of the company held together. This is all happening while we are working to overcome a number of challenges that impact all startup companies on a daily basis. 

3. What leadership skills and qualities are important in your position at Neo? 

I would probably say being able to keep an eye on Neo’s long-term vision is very important and keeping this balanced when the days can be intense and overwhelming at times. All of the Neo team give their utmost, but it can sometimes be easy to lose track of why you are doing something. It is my role to ensure that everyone remains focused on what contributes to materialising Neo’s long-term mission.
Another quality, which I had to learn, is that you need to keep calm and not overreact. You must understand that things take time and that a vision does not materialize in just a couple of weeks. Ideas need to make sense for your team because if they do not buy into it, they cannot make them happen.

4. How has the treasury landscape changed during your time in the industry and at Neo? 

The treasury landscape has evolved massively since I started my career as treasurers and CFOs are now facing matters that were simply not around 10 years ago. These are mostly linked to choosing and implementing the right IT stack and ensuring efficient inter-system connectivity. 
When a client opens an account, the first question is not about fees but about reporting into an accounting system. CFOs now need to convert to a modern system that will deliver the level of reporting and control that is now required. This is very challenging because most of the tools in place are still old-fashioned systems filled with legacies and complex connectivity. Most of the time, treasurers have not even been trained for these system-related issues and so this is where we like to think Neo is helping by bringing financial improvement embed with technology and automation.

5. How do you see the industry changing in the next 5-10 years? 

The concept of the bank account will change radically from a simple place where you collect funds and make payments, to the heart of treasury architecture. Real-time cash flow reconciliation with ERPs and forecasting will become the norm. 
Likewise, open banking and blockchain are changing everything at the moment. Data from banks will end up being available to smart plugins who will help the treasurer decide what is the best in just a blink of the eye.