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Finance

FINANCE PREDICTIONS FOR 2021

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By Dr Vic Arulchandran, CPO at Nivaura

 

The year 2020 saw many technology trends accelerated due to the global pandemic. Now that we’ve seen many organisations adopt digitised processes, this momentum shows no sign of slowing. Two predictions that I think gained momentum in 2020, but will come to fruition in 2021, are the adoption of low-code tools and the digitalisation of capital markets.

 

The low-code / no-code movement has been gradually gaining momentum behind the scenes for the past couple of years. 2020 was the year we saw it really step into the spotlight, when demand for digital products dramatically accelerated due to COVID-19. Organisations that already utilised low-code platforms found themselves in a far better position to efficiently digitalise and automate service offerings and operations than competitors who had not yet embraced low-code. Indeed, Forrester has predicted that by the end of 2021, 75% of application development will use low-code platforms, up from 44% in 2020.

 

What we’ll see in 2021 is a wave of new entrepreneurs. By this, I mean we’ll see founders who are not developers creating their own applications. Low-code platforms make services and applications available, so that any eager entrepreneur can put together services to create an entirely new offering.

 

Dr Vic Arulchandran

There are three main reasons why tech-savvy entrepreneurs will leverage this trend. Firstly, low-code tools are like building blocks, they are easy to put together to create applications. This also means that parts can be added or taken away with the click of a button if necessary. Compared to code, where parts would need to be modified or completely rewritten in the event of proposed changes to the end product, this is far more efficient. Secondly, because of their building block nature it means that entrepreneurs do not have to become specialist programmers to create their own products and apps. This also removes restrictions on developers who are skilled in some coding languages but less so in others. Finally, they also present the opportunity to automate certain tasks that are time consuming and repetitive. Some organisations have already begun to tackle this using machine learning and RPA.

 

Separately, while many sectors have embraced digitisation, financial services in particular, primary capital markets workflows have remained largely unchanged. They are the final frontier for digital evolution in the financial industry. In 2021, this will change. Many projects are already underway, developing artificial intelligence implementations and use cases for dramatically reducing the time and human capital required for activities such as bond issuance, as well as the risk level associated with human intervention in transactions.

 

Today, capital markets workflows generally remain overly complicated, with high manual touchpoints in the issuance process causing issues further downstream in unstructured data flows and post-trade errors. Developing dynamic workflow tools that employ low code / no code principles and utilise AI will have huge benefits for primary markets, not only enabling the generation of deeper insights and delivering increased efficiency to a multitude of tasks, but ultimately democratising access to liquidity.

 

This extends to many other sectors too, including healthcare – where AI will be used to assist with diagnostics and procedures, sales – through AI recommendations and chatbots, and entertainment – gaming uses AI to create human-like challenging opponents that dynamically adjust to the environment and the user skill level.

 

Business

REMOTE WORKING SHOULDN’T MEAN A COMPROMISE IN GOOD ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

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To be bylined to Simon Kearsley, CEO of bluQube

The increase in remote working has meant that reliable accountancy software has become more important than ever to keep businesses working to their full ability. If your business is still relying on manual, paper-based systems for its accounting needs, now is the time to re-evaluate and modernise its accountancy system.

Simon Kearsley

This may also be true if a business’ existing accountancy software is not up to modern standards and falling behind crucial technological developments. Traditional accountancy systems rely on finite capacity for data and are often inflexible. They can also make accounting more difficult when they are not designed to handle multiple users at a time from different networks and locations. Increasing levels of access needs mean that less-modern systems can become slow and overworked, making it difficult for teams to access and slowing processes down.

Updating accounting systems alongside the progression of software is key to ensuring that a business is performing its best and increasing productivity where possible. If a company is not up to date, they risk falling behind competitors that are turning to automated, cloud-based accounting systems.

 

How to assess if your accounting system is working for you

Below are some integral functions for accountancy software which must be considered.

 

Reliable reporting: It is vital that you are able to access data whenever it is needed. Whilst excel is commonly used for manipulating and reporting on financial data, it puts that data at risk of mistakes and makes confidential information more at risk of comprise. Having reliable means for accessing information and reporting on it reduces the chances of these issues occurring and ensures you’re able to utilise that data for informed decision making.

 

No unnecessary costs or overspending: With reliable access to data comes productivity. As members of a team across a company have instant access to the necessary data, such as budgets and spending reports, it means that there is full transparency of up to the minute costs. This ensures that there is no risk of employees being unaware of the current financial status of the business.

 

Improved performance levels: Implementing efficient cloud-based accounting software will ensure your business performs more efficiently and productively than before. Heavy traffic on databases is easily managed, keeping your system running quickly and saving you time extracting the necessary data.

 

Scalable and adaptable: Modern systems are structured in a way to be adaptable and scalable alongside business growth. As your business grows, the volume of accountancy items your system will need to process will change and the way in which you need to report on that data will also evolve. With the right system in place, you can add additional modules, users or data storage in line with your business needs.

The right cloud-based software reduces the risks of your company being held back by a legacy system that is behind the curve.

 

How cloud-based systems can help businesses with productivity

Growth comes with obstacles, but your accounting system should not add to them. Up to date systems should help with business productivity, ensuring that time and money is spent on the most important things. This reduces the risk of businesses being phased out by higher performing competitors utilising modern, and often cloud powered systems.

Modern, cloud-based software is more flexible than ever before. Modern web-service data links will improve the ease of sharing real-time data across business systems, which in turn allows finance staff to direct their attention away from manual processes and toward more commercial objectives.

These modernised systems can also provide specific employee by employee access to varying data sets and varying areas of the software. Tailored access ensures staff aren’t overwhelmed with information they don’t need, or information you don’t want them to see, enabling them to login and help themselves to real-time figures. This makes it quicker for people to access the data they need and reduces workloads for financial teams who previously had to run and collate endless reports for budget holders and management teams. Highly tailored access to your accounting software is also a safer choice, as only those who really need the information can see it.

Another advantage of an effective, modern accounting system is the ability for data to be updated at any time, from anywhere. Again, this can speed up financial processes and ensures that decisions are always being made with real-time figures. With remote working becoming increasingly common, this is an integral feature that can help with financial efficiency.

In order for your company on to fulfil its potential in terms of efficiency and productivity, it’s essential you have the right software in place to support it. The core finance team in particular will be able to free up time to focus on strategic tasks, and decision makers around the business will have access to financial data like never before.

However, if your accounting system is falling behind in terms of these modern features, they may be holding your business back.

 

What to look for in an accounting software provider

Firstly, if you’re looking for a cloud-based system, find out where your data will actually be housed and what security protocols are in place. Not all cloud systems are created equal, and the level of security your data receives can vary tremendously.

Once you’ve ensured it’s secure, it is good to make a judgement on whether it is utilising the best technology available in the market. This will include secure data handling, as well as having user-friendly interface, making it accessible to users throughout the business, not just your core finance department.

It is also significant that the system is reliable and not underperforming when you need it most. For it to be reliable it needs to also be scalable, as your business grows your cloud system should be able to support it, no matter the size of your business. A great cloud supplier will also be constantly investing in new technology behind the scenes, ensuring your software remains at the forefront of modern tech and leaving you to simply focus on the day job.

Finally, if you feel confident in your choice, it is always good to check current client reviews on how the system has positively affected their company. This will help to figure out the potential cloud journey you may undertake and it’s always reassuring to know you’re in the right hands.

 

Final thoughts

If you want to keep up with digital evolutions, changing your accountancy software to a future-proof solution could be a critical step towards maximising your company’s efficiency and productivity, allowing more time and room for your business to grow.

 

 

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Finance

2021 AND THE FINTECH MARKET BONANZA

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By Mike Rhodes, CEO and Founder of ConsultMyApp

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption for many businesses, however, the fintech market has remained steadfast in its growth. In fact, 2021 has become the golden age for fintech IPOs. For example, RobinHood Markets Inc debuted with one of the largest recorded listings for a fintech company – valued at $32 billion on July 29th 2021.

With the global fintech market predicted to reach a value of £380 billion by 2030, this boom is showing no signs of slowing.

Whilst the fintech market has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, established banking institutions now find themselves in hot water. If they are to truly rival new market players like Revolut or Tide, they must innovate their digital offering. Yet, despite their efforts, traditional banks are failing at the in-app experience and still struggling to create true differentiation in an increasingly saturated market. Instead, fintech companies continue to outperform them, providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for customers’ financial needs.

So, how have fintechs rapidly gained market authority in a typically ‘closed shop’ sector?

The Digital Transition

The past 18-months have triggered a rapid acceleration of the shift online. For example, digital banking has seen a significant increase in uptake, with 73% of British consumers now embracing e-banking offerings.

As lockdown and social distancing restrictions hindered in-person sales and services, customers increasingly turned to fintech’s as a more convenient and efficient way to manage their finances. This digital transition is now set to continue to transform the financial services sector as the world re-evaluates traditional forms of banking and the personal finance revolution continues to gain traction.

Mike Rhodes

Customer Acquisition Strategies

Amid this backdrop, fintech companies have remained at the forefront of consumers’ minds and developed a strong and sustained customer base.

Whilst traditional banks remain focused on marketing campaigns that drive individual downloads, fintechs have set themselves apart with effective user acquisition strategies, centred around a simple onboarding processes. Industry leaders have acknowledged that a more streamlined sign up process makes it easier to acquire new users through paid channels.

As a result, fintechs continue to achieve high levels of uptake by appealing to new users with their account activation and login mechanics which require only the most relevant information. In contrast, traditional banks have failed to acknowledge that onboarding and overloading do not need to go hand in hand. Simplicity is key here and until established banks accept this narrative, new market players will continue to outperform them in the digital space.

Effective App Store Optimization

Another contributor to the success of fintechs lies in their App Store Optimization strategy (ASO) which remains at the forefront of the agenda. In fact, for Tide (https://www.tide.co/),  the UK’s leading business financial platform, ASO and Apple Search Ad (ASA) strategies proved to be crucial in driving new business account signups.

ConsultMyApp worked strategically with Tide to improve all elements of ASO, whilst ensuring it was fully synchronized with their Apple Search Ad campaigns. This resulted in Tide’s organic install volumes rising by 140 per cent over just three months, demonstrating how valuable these tactics can be.

By concentrating on ASO, fintech companies improve traffic from organic searches and increase overall conversation rates to boost the efficacy of their paid channels. In a saturated market, ASO is quite simply a must to ensure a company can compete against the competition and sustain market momentum.

 

Customer Retention Strategies

Fintechs have also acknowledged the value in establishing a comprehensive user retention strategy. These apps prioritise the user experience to remain competitive and retain customers. They ensure that from the very first moment an individual logs into the app, their experience is slick and convenient – and this includes communication pathways. These new market players are extremely self-aware when it comes to their communication strategy – knowing how much communication is too much.

Findings suggest that push notifications can in fact double the 30, 60 and 90-day retention of customers, but they should be handled with caution. If executed poorly, push notifications can become intrusive and force users to abandon the app altogether. Yet, fintechs seem to be getting the balance right – targeting the right people at the right time and with the right information.

Fintech companies are currently leaps and bounds ahead of established banking institutions when it comes to producing personalised content. By utilising in-app and external data, fintechs have been able to adapt and innovate the user experience according to specific preferences and interests. By pairing app and message personalisation with dynamic content, fintechs are able to connect with users propelling them into a different league when it comes to customer engagement.

 

Looking Ahead

The fintech market has accelerated from strength to strength over the past 18 months and, with investment into the market on an upward trajectory, this sector is only set to shatter more records.

Ultimately, traditional institutions cannot afford to ignore the new wave of digital banking that has rapidly gained market authority. Instead, they must embrace the value of investing in ASO and the key marketing strategies needed to build awareness, improve the customer experience and develop a competitive edge, if they are to compete with leading fintechs’ offerings.

 

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