I had the pleasure of interviewing Regan McGrath, the founding partner and CEO of Metrics Chartered Professional Accounting, a public accounting firm operating across Canada and Metrics Labs Inc a technology company focused on AI applications for accounting. Regan holds her Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, CPA CA from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (now CPA), and has most recently completed her Certification in Fintech and the Future Commerce from MIT.
Regan acts as an advisor and strategist to private and public cannabis and blockchain companies in Canada and the USA. Regan is the recipient of awards from Greater Victoria Chamber Commerce and CPABC for her work at Metrics, in entrepreneurialism and within the community. She is a frequent speaker, educator, and writer on the topics of blockchain, cannabis and the future of commerce for magazines, business and professional associations across North America.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of what first introduced you into this business or helped you get interested in the business?
From Vancouver Island, I grew up in an early- acceptance culture, with newspapers writing monthly articles on the benefits of legalization and 420 parties on legislative grounds long before talks of legalization. As a businesswoman, I sprung on legalized cannabis as a focus sector three years ago, and we have been growing our cannabis book ever since. We are now working primarily on tax compliance and M&A activities within the cannabis space, advising private and public cannabis companies across Canada.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting stories come from the Boardroom table and negotiating acquisitions of privately traded companies. One example comes from a time when we were negotiating a $10M deal and upon opening of negotiations the team first discussed why we were all involved in the cannabis industry. The accounts of cannabis helping PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia in the personal lives of most members around the table brought most of the room to tears. It was moving for me to see so many high-level executives using cannabis to help their lives. It was a reminder that cannabis is such an important part of our culture.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I am an interim CFO for a cannabis company preparing to go public. I have 4 clients for which I prepare future focused models to allow them to predict and control the future of their companies.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have three clients who are big incumbents in the cannabis space. They have provided me the opportunity to get my hands on market research, develop an understanding of the industry and its trends, and have led me to possess market knowledge that allows our firm play at the big private equity and public company level. Without these key early clients trusting in me, sharing information and contacts with me, we’d never have such a strong position in the industry.
My mother- for being a feminist and strong role model. She showed me it is possible to be a great mother with a great career.
My father- he is an accountant and my career role model. He helps me navigate all the grey areas of being a CPA. We meet every Monday for lunch to talk about high-end finance and tax. It is hands down my favorite lunch every week.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
Given the restrictions on cannabis advertising, I’ve found Public Relations is an effective way to reach our target demographic.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
Removing the ‘stoner’ stigma attached to cannabis use and replacing it with personal stories of success.
Bracing for huge market disruption to Pharma as natural medicine finds its place in the Canadian marketplace.
Medical patients getting access to physicians who understand the power of cannabis (rather than self-prescribing and experimenting to find solutions).
Regulations: with regulatory environments being so stringent, we are seeing 75% of the existing cannabis market remaining in the black market (or grey market) space.
Banking: Access to banking in the industry is terrible. How can we accept companies on our publicly listed stock exchange, and then have banks refuse to bank them? Don’t cannabis businesses have a right to fairly applied banking rules?
Can you share your top “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Cannabis Ancillary Company”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Create and model out your strategy. This is key to your success. It is the difference between being in control and informed, and driving blind. It will also allow you to predict the amount of cash you need to successfully carry-out your strategy and raise funds accordingly (and when investors ask for your business model to support the use of their funds, you have it on hand).
2. Track performance. Implementing performance tracking tools and dashboards will allow companies to track their actuals against their plan, and determine where they need to adjust strategy. It is also key for external financial reporting. There are great tools like Xero bookkeeping software and Fathom that produce excellent, beautiful, (and highly automated) solutions.
3. Hire professionals to make up for your management team’s deficits. There are a ton of great subcontractors for hire waiting to pounce on this industry.
4. Be nimble. Regulatory environments change from day today. Be ready to be flexible and have backup plans.
5. Work only with companies with reputable management. There are a lot of shady companies out there. You don’t want to work with them.
Aside from your particular vertical, which other cannabis ancillary industries do you think have very strong potential in the next few years? Can you explain why?
I am a consultant in the following verticals (all of which I believe will be huge)
Retail: Because excellent retail experiences will remove the stigma from cannabis and lead the movement for recreational cannabis adoption. (See move away from LP manufacturing licensure to Retail licensure and the new drop-ship models coming through Canadian legislation.)
Product creation: Because there is so much more to discover about cannabis products and how they fit into the marketplace (see massive cash holdings in public companies with no products on the market in which to invest).
Import Export: Because commerce is global, and cannabis is no exception. We are seeing the green light on importing and exporting which will allow the cannabis industry to scale. (See import export licensure in Canada, Jamaica, Uruguay, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and other markets)
Edibles/Drinkables: Because edibles can deliver high dosages befitting to medical use, or lower dosages that fit with the intimate consumption behaviors. I also love that you can ingest cannabis without introducing the health risks of smoking. (see Constellation Brands recent $5B investment into Canopy Brands)
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Pay attention to workplace productivity. More hours does not equal more output, innovation or better quality. Providing flexible hours and workplace conditions (like remote working) is key to retaining top talent).
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Mandating blockchain technology adoption for supply chains in cannabis. It would allow complete transparency for consumers, regulators, and everyone on the chain.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Jilea Hemmings is the CEO & Co-Founder of Leaf Tyme. She is running a series on Leaders In The Cannabis Industry.