Ian Stone, CEO of Vuealta
Between 2010 and 2015, the financial services industry changed drastically.
In just those five years, four of today’s most successful fintech companies were launched; namely Stripe, Revolut, Starling Bank and Monzo.
These launches all had one thing in common; putting the customer at the centre of the operation, untied to legacy or history. Fast forward and the fintech industry is coming of age, with the UK’s fintech sector alone attracting £1.34 billion of venture capital funding in 2017, and new companies launching into market every day.
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This success means that the challenge these companies now face is one of scale. To keep moving forward, they need to be able to expand and scale up quickly and easily to support their growing customer bases. They need to do this at the same time as maintaining the flawless, fully-digitised customer service that they have become synonymous for. No easy feat.
How they play this growth period is therefore vital. They need to be fast in making decisions and flexible enough to adapt to the constant changes that are now part and parcel of today’s market. That means arming themselves with the tools and information that will help them achieve that.
A new age of planning
The key is in the planning. As digital companies, fintechs already benefit from high levels of flexibility and adaptability. These traits must also be reflected in how they approach their business planning if they stand a chance of still being relevant five years down the road. A recent survey by Ernst & Young revealed that a third of UK fintech companies believe that they’re likely to IPO in that timeframe – a clear demonstration of the rewards that can be reaped from staying successful. What will set the successes apart from the failures is connectivity. A more connected company with a more connected approach to how it plans will be more successful.
Realising a connected approach to planning
By connecting their people, processes and data, fintech companies will be able to more accurately forecast their revenue, costs and liquidity on a monthly if not weekly or daily basis. They’ll be able to model and digest significant variations in activity and resources, as well as changes in operating models and growth scenarios.
Holding information in different siloes makes it almost impossible for a business to have an accurate view of where money is being spent, meaning the value of forecasts are limited. For those looking to scale up their operations, both from a size and geography point of view, these forecast insights are invaluable. Expansion is an expensive business, so using the company’s data, connecting it and breaking down those silos to make more informed, accurate decisions will help ensure that they don’t burn through valuable capital.
It will also help them stay nimble. This is a period of significant change, with new regulations, political fluctuations affecting currency rates, access to skills and trade deals, amongst other things. The future is unclear so staying nimble means having a clear view and plan for what multiple futures could look like. By having a holistic view of how the entire business is performing and then using that data to forecast where it is likely to be in one, three, ten years’ time, the future becomes much more predictable and achievable. Suddenly, a fintech company can start making decisions now that before may have seemed too risky.
When implemented properly at both a technological and an organisational level, connected planning provides an intuitive map of how decisions ripple through an entire organisation. That is only possible with a real-time overview of the business and the ability to quickly understand the impact of any market changes. This is a critical point for fintech companies.
The competition is growing and although the larger banks will never be able to match new fintechs in terms of agility, they have experience, big customer bases and money on their side. Taking a more connected approach to how fintechs plan will be key to success. Only with a clear view of how the business is performing and scenarios for when that performance is jeopardised, will these companies cement their place in the future of finance.