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For the first time in 10 years, finance executives predict an uptick in technology spending in 2020, according to new Finance Key Issues research from The Hackett Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: HCKT). By accelerating cloud migration and the adoption of RPA, data visualization and advanced analytics solutions, finance is seeking to optimize cost efficiency while driving enterprise growth. Most finance executives expect to see an increase of 5-10% in the share of the finance operating budget dedicated to technology in 2020, the research found, despite a projected 3.4% decline in the overall budget.

Technology spend as a percentage of the finance budget has been flat or declining since 2009, but finance is prepared to make incremental investment to advance its digital transformation agenda. Our research shows that executives are setting aggressive year-over-year targets for digital technology adoption. At the end of 2019, our study respondents projected that in 2020 they would see a rise of 26% in the adoption of data visualization tools, 24% in RPA implementations, 20% in migration to next-gen cloud-based core finance applications, and an 18% increase in the adoption of advanced analytics solutions.

The research recommended that finance must go digital, faster, in order to support companies’ two biggest objectives for this year: Optimize the cost structure to become more agile in preparation for economic volatility and continue to invest in product and services innovation to maintain competitive advantage. For finance functions, that also means addressing internal cost inefficiencies and working with the business to identify and execute on revenue growth opportunities.

This research is available on a complimentary basis, with registration, at this link: Note – The full research piece includes 10 charts containing nearly 60 complete metrics.

According to Jim O’Connor, North American Practice Leader, The Hackett Group, “Finance has an aggressive agenda for 2020, with analytics and technological advancement as the top two transformation priorities. Finance executives realize that in the intensely competitive digital economy companies cannot arbitrarily cut cost at the expense of sustainability. It is finance’s job to ensure intelligent cost reduction through smart automation and the use of analytics to help management decide where to cut and where to invest.  

According to Nilly Essaides, Senior Research Director, Finance & EPM, The Hackett Group, “Without advanced analytics, management cannot make fully informed decisions, or make them quickly. So, there’s a tremendous need for finance to improve its data and analytics competencies, adopt new tools, and enhance the business value it provides directly.”

Finance’s transformation progress, however, faces several critical hurdles. The biggest is overcommitment, followed by skills deficiencies, capacity constraints, and technology and process complexity.

Because finance is asked to juggle multiple projects, the function must find ways to prioritize. Our research identified six critical development areas, defined as those with the largest gaps between the importance of its objectives and finance’s ability to deliver on business expectations. They are: redeploying capacity to value-added work; improving performance measurement; improving agility; aligning skills and talent with business needs; improving analytical capability; and leveraging new technologies. It’s imperative that finance organizations narrow these gaps, allowing them deliver value beyond lowering cost and transition into their new role as provider of actionable insight to support tactical and strategic management decisions.

The study found that finance must take a holistic approach to addressing its critical development areas across all elements of its service delivery model. Finance must be clear how services will be delivered, and  must focus on improving human capital, according to Essaides. “The low prioritization finance has placed on human capital, including upskilling and reskilling of staff, is one of the most concerning elements of this year’s findings. It’s towards the bottom of the ranking of service delivery model elements and isn’t even on the top 10 list of finance key issues for 2020. This suggests that not only does finance need to address the skills needed for the future, but it must also clearly design how services will be executed along with defining both new and old roles within finance to deliver on business expectations.  Finance must focus its attention in these areas, because without the right service delivery model, the right roles, people, and skills, even the best technologies will likely fail to produce the results.”

Many finance organizations are still in the early stages of digital transformation, and continue to rely heavily on legacy financial applications, the study found. However, such legacy systems have the lowest rate of meeting business expectations. Finance organizations are hoping to improve realization of business objectives of their technology investment through strong growth in adoption of next-generation cloud-based systems and RPA. 

“Our data shows, for example, strong growth in the adoption of cloud-based core finance applications,” said Essaides.  “And the encouraging news is that more than 70% of the finance function that have adopted cloud-based solution have been able to realize or exceed their business expectations.”

Looking ahead, The Hackett Group recommends that finance keep a keen focus on optimizing service delivery and addressing the skills gap that it is facing in order to support not only finance but also the enterprise.  Driving cost efficiency and supporting growth strategies are the top priorities in 2020 for the enterprise.  Finance has an opportunity to become more of a strategic advisor to support the enterprise growth strategies while also generating the expected cost efficiency improvements.  This will require finance to prioritize building the right analytic capabilities, the right technology for efficiency improvement, and aligning skills and talents with business requirements.

The Hackett Group’s 2020 Finance Key Issues research, “Balancing Cost Reduction with Adding Value,” is based on results gathered from nearly 200 executives in finance, HR, IT, and procurement at a global set of midsized and large enterprises.



Wombat partners with Currencycloud to launch its new, free Instant Investment service to open up investing for a wider market.




UK-based micro-investment platform Wombat has partnered with Currencycloud, the experts in simplifying business in a multi-currency world, to launch its new, free, Instant Investing account to give investors the ability to invest instantly in the UK, and in US stocks during opening hours.

In line with Wombat’s goal of making investing effortless and accessible for all, the easy-to-use Instant Investing account lets people who want to trade more frequently, and with more choice, do so with no initial subscription fee and only small FX transaction fees. An investor can now instantly place a trade, commission-free, during US market hours. The new account adds to Wombat’s range of carefully chosen, low-cost, theme-based exchange traded funds (ETFs) and fractional UK, US and EU shares.

By partnering with Currencycloud and integrating its APIs directly into their app, Wombat is able to offer its customers instant access to popular US stocks and shares by executing instant buy and sell orders with unlimited commission-free trading and low FX rates. These customers can trade regularly in real time, and instantly convert USD to GBP and vice versa when it suits them and without incurring any hidden FX fees.

Says Kane Harrison, CEO and Co-founder of Wombat: “The addition of Instant Investing is really exciting for us as it gives our users the opportunity to further their investment journey. For those who want to be able to trade shares more regularly, our new instant account will give them flexibility and greater options with access to real-time investments and live market pricing. These new features are fundamental to the next stage of our development and give our users the tools they need to invest the way they want.”

Nick Cheetham, Chief Revenue Officer at Currencycloud, commented: “The growth of Wealthtech over the last couple of years has been meteoric. Working with a brand like Wombat, that provides investment opportunities to the layman is a perfect example of our mutual goal of levelling the playing fields within financial services.”

Wombat is available to download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play now.


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Urban Company rolls out health insurance for service professionals in partnership with ACKO Insurance




  • Health insurance plan to benefit 40,000+ service partners in India
  • Service partners can avail up to 12 free-of-cost online doctor consultations in a year
  • Urban Company already provides Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover to all the service partners associated with the platform   

Urban Company, Asia’s largest tech-enabled home services marketplace, today announced that it is introducing a comprehensive health insurance plan for its service partners in India. The company has tied up with ACKO Insurance to craft this insurance cover.

Under the newly launched health insurance policy, all UC Plus service partners will get an insurance cover of INR 2 lac. The policy will also provide family medical insurance for spouse and two children and up to 12 free medical consultations per year. This is in addition to the existing Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover. Service partners without UC Plus subscription will benefit from a health insurance cover of INR 1 lac, with up to 12 free medical consultations per year for self, along with the existing benefits of the Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover.

Commenting on the initiative, Varun Khaitan, COO & Co-founder Urban Company, said, “Health insurance provides a shield against unexpected medical expenses that can throw individuals and families in dire financial situation. To protect our service partners from such a scenario, we are introducing a specially designed health insurance plan. At Urban Company, our priority has always been the well-being of our partners and we constantly strive towards that through our continued focus on safety net and wealth creation for them.”

Brijesh Unithan, Senior Vice President of Partnerships, ACKO Insurance said “Health Insurance has become a critical aspect in financial planning, and kudos to Urban Company for planning this on behalf of their service professionals. We are excited about the partnership and will keep refining the benefits with more experience to make it a one-stop shop for Urban Company’s service professionals to access all their health insurance needs. 

ACKO Group Medical Cover (GMC) empowers partners to choose from a wide range of benefits offering flexibility to change benefits as per the changing needs of the family and reduces the burden of expensive medical care and the soaring medical inflation. In addition, ACKO GMC eliminates the tedious paperwork by making the entire insurance journey accessible on the app.

Urban Company has a structured approach towards partner development and well-being centered around 4 key pillars: improved earnings, safety net, training and wealth creation. This announcement is part of the Urban Company’s efforts to further strengthen the safety net it offers to its partners. All active partners on the UC platform in India are covered under the Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover. Some of the key aspects covered under the policy are life insurance (INR 6 lakhs), disability cover (INR 6 lakhs), accidental hospitalization (INR 70,000), accidental OPD treatment (INR 10,000), among others.

Recently, Urban Company also announced an industry-first ‘Partner Stock Ownership Plan (PSOP)’ initiative for its service partners. Under this initiative, the Company plans to award stocks worth INR 150 Cr. to thousands of service partners over the next 5-7 years. This will enable Urban Company service partners, including plumbers, electricians, cleaners, beauticians, and massage therapists etc., to become equal stakeholders in the company’s growth.


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