Q&A with ACL President & CEO Laurie Schultz
Worldwide governance software provider ACL announced this morning a $50 million investment from growth equity firm Norwest. For a private company that has been self-funded for more than 30 years, what makes this the best move for them and for the industry? President & CEO Laurie Schultz recently shared the details about the investment with CCI.
Maurice Gilbert: Congratulations on the investment. Can you talk a little bit about why you decided to bring on an outside investor?
Laurie Schultz: Thanks; we’re all very excited about our new partnership with Norwest. ACL has been a bootstrapped business for our entire history; self-funding the creation of the global audit analytics category, the acquisition and integration of our SaaS governance platform, and the transformation of our business to subscription. For the past five years, we’ve been working aggressively toward our vision of a single, integrated risk and performance management (governance) platform that addresses the broad needs of professionals in our industry. This minority investment will allow us to achieve that vision much more quickly.
Today, there are hundreds of very small point solutions in the industry, many of which are on old technology and riddled with complex and costly service implementations. As you can imagine, this makes it challenging for governance professionals to do their jobs well—they must either piecemeal together a bunch of different technologies to see everything in one place, or they’re stuck using one system that is so over-customized that it cannot evolve with their needs. We aim to consolidate this fractured customer experience.
MG: Why Norwest?
LS: With SaaS platform revenues doubling in each of the last five years, ACL is in a strong position to execute our vision of category consolidation, so we began looking for a business partner to support and accelerate our plans. Norwest shares our focus on driving success through a balanced focus on employees, customers, and financials, all enabled by a strong corporate culture.
As a minority shareholder, Norwest will support our vision with industry expertise and strategic growth resources. The firm aligns very well with our infectious company culture, and Norwest was drawn to our strong growth and industry-changing vision.
Norwest’s investments have helped brands like Uber and Spotify grow and realize their visions. We feel like we’ve found the right “invited guest” to drive our own success.
MG: Sounds like a win-win for ACL and Norwest. You mentioned consolidating the integrated risk and performance management market – how will you deploy the capital to do this?
LS: We aim to provide a unified customer experience: offering a single platform from a single vendor that embeds a prescriptive process methodology, allowing diverse governance professionals to solve diverse problems, all within one enterprise platform.
We will use the capital to accelerate our SaaS growth trajectory by expanding investment in R&D, sales and marketing, and talent.
MG: So, risk professionals are currently working with solutions that are either too limited or too customized. Are we right to anticipate an expansion of ACL’s product offering or customer focus?
LS: We aim to be to the integrated risk and performance market, what CRM (salesforce.com) is to sales, marketing and customer service professionals. We are investing heavily in product expansion, allowing us to solve the business challenges of an expanded customer base.
MG: Are ACL employees excited about the news?
LS: Everyone from our research and development team through to our sales, marketing, and customer success teams is aligned behind the vision and excited to be able to achieve it sooner. With more than 7000 customers in 140 countries worldwide, ACL is growing rapidly, in no small part due to our passionate and talented employees. Part of why Norwest emerged as the right partner for us was a culture fit – the innovative spirit and energy of our employees has been, and will continue to be, a major part of our recipe for success.
MG: Is there anything else you would like to add?
LS: What we do really matters in the world. We are in the business of helping people on the front lines of uncovering corporate and public sector fraud, unethical business, operational waste, and outright crime. I’m proud of what we do and already looking ahead to helping our customers have an even bigger impact than they do today.
MG: Thank you for your time and congratulations!
LS: My pleasure!
For more information about the investment, please visit acl.com.
Laurie Schultz, President & CEO, is responsible for leading the transformation of ACL’s global business by mobilizing talent toward category disruption and double-digit growth.
With over 25 years of experience in software and technology sectors, Laurie has led 12 multi-million dollar software P&Ls spanning the personal finance, small business accounting, SaaS, ERP, Business Intelligence and GRC categories. Holding prior leadership positions with Sage, Intuit, KPMG, and TELUS, Laurie has both DOUBLED revenues and DOUBLED profits by empowering change and relentlessly focusing on the “right critical few.”
Since being appointed CEO of ACL in 2011, Laurie has successfully pivoted the company from hard sales of software to a software-as-a-service model with over 300 employees and to accolades as one of Canada’s Top Employers.
Laurie is a strong advocate for technology and serves as the Board Chair of the BC Tech Association. Her voice is an important contributor to the Canadian technology landscape and she is a preeminent thought leader published in media outlets such as the Huffington Post and the Globe and Mail.
She has received multiple leadership awards, including being named to the Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) 2017 and 2016 Canada’s Most Powerful Women list, the 2015 Gold Stevie® Award for Female Executive of the Year, the YWCA’s 2015 “Women of Distinction” award, Business in Vancouver’s 2014 “Women of Influence” award, and the Minerva Foundation’s 2013 “Excellence in Leadership” award. Laurie has also been featured as one of Canada’s Top 20 Women in the IT Channel (2011) and in the Top 100 Women in the North American Channel (2012).
Laurie holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, both from the University of Alberta. She proudly makes her home in Vancouver with her husband, two children and their dog, Stripe.
Laurie has been featured in: The Globe and Mail | The Huffington Post Canada | Business in Vancouver – Economy | The New York Times | Techvibes | Business in Vancouver – Technology | BC in Vancouver – Women in Business