Host Analytics, Inc., a financial planning and analysis (FP&A) platform provider, announced today the company has changed its name to Planful, Inc.
The name change is "a bold move, no question," inspired by the idea of continuous planning, says Grant Halloran, the company CEO.
“We wanted a name that resonated more with our primary customers, which [are] FP&A teams,” Halloran told CFO Dive Tuesday. “We think their superpower, relative to all the others in business, is financial planning. We wanted a company name that comes with them.”
Halloran spoke with CFO Dive Tuesday about Planful’s new direction. Aside from the name change, the company is not making any organizational announcements. “The only thing the market will see,” Halloran told CFO Dive, “is a positioning shift evangelizing continuous planning.”
“Planful is a real word," Halloran said. "It means being rich in plans. We think that describes the personality and character of our primary audience. [It’s easier] to build a brand narrative around continuous planning when you have a name that’s simpatico with your vision. That’s easier to do than explaining yourself all the time.”
Changing the name can be a difficult game. The company must go through the process of educating the market about the change, running the risk that some customers will not get the news. But Halloran believes the pros far outweigh the cons.
“I’ve been through this three times now; trust me, I’ve considered all these risks,” Halloran said. “Changing a company name today in 2020 is a lot easier than it used to be, pre-internet age. The first reason is, we can reach our entire market by carpet bombing them with digital messages.”
“Secondly,” he said. “[Host Analytics] has a digital footprint, and all that footprint will redirect to Planful. People who look for us online will redirect to Planful, and then, in two seconds, they’ll process the fact that we’ve changed our name.”
Halloran recognizes the fear many executives have about name changes, but he says it’s not as disruptive as many believe. “Humans are incredible filtering machines,” he said. “We’ve evolved to be amazing at filtering out terabytes of info every day that our brains deem irrelevant. If you’re an FP&A professional unfamiliar with Host Analytics, and you get a message from them, a lot of that gets lost because it isn’t deemed relevant.”
Halloran is optimistic about the word Planful because he says it mentally triggers something in consumers, and he and his team think, statistically, this will result in increased brand awareness.
“For any CEO or CFO out there, a name change could be your biggest [opportunity] to reach your market with your messages,” he said. “You can build a brand narrative. For us, planning is ubiquitous; it’s happening in every part of your company every day. It’s become this new medium by which many financial decisions are made. We feel, with our new company name, we can project that vision more easily in the market.”
Halloran has witnessed FP&A evolve dramatically over the past twenty years. “At the turn of the century, a lot of CFOs were CPAs. But since then, there’s been a pretty dramatic [move] towards ... business-oriented CFOs, who have done general management studies and executive development. That means less CPA qualifications, and more coming from M&A backgrounds, especially here in the U.S., where M&A is such a big part of corporate strategy today.”
Additionally, unequivocally, Halloran says, “the cloud has emerged as the new vanguard of how to do things, because your time to value is so much smarter. Integration now has also become so much easier and secure.”