By Martin de Heus, VP Direct Sales at Onguard
In today’s world, technology and software are an essential part of business. This is especially true in accounts and credit management departments where organising and sharing data, tracking orders, scheduling tasks and managing workloads are all vital processes for long-term success and growth.
The type of software used to manage these processes, and store the data generated by them, can help define how efficient and effective a business’s credit management function is. Currently, it’s often carried out using spreadsheets alone.
Sometimes the use of basic standard software is simply a legacy of the past. Basic computer programs were used to get the business up and running and they are often being pushed to their limits by growing businesses today – far beyond their intended purposes.
Excel spreadsheets, for example, are often used for a whole host of working processes that they were not specifically intended for. It’s certainly not the case that the software is intrinsically bad – far from it. Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program that allows users to do a lot with raw data. The issue with Excel is that it is often the wrong tool for the job that credit managers are trying to do.
After all, spreadsheets are ultimately designed for number crunching, not for storing masses of details about customers; their contact details; sales records; payment history and outstanding balances. It’s a problem that tends to get worse as the organisation grows.
Using Excel for tracking credit management when the business is small is certainly convenient and it may even work adequately for a little while. Typically, however, it will not take long for the spreadsheet to become weighed down by complexity and this can lead to it becoming slow with errors inevitably creeping into data and functions.
When businesses are in that expansion phase, spreadsheets can be a source of frustration and aggravation, often resulting in slow processes and mistakes as their capabilities are stretched almost to breaking point. Specialist software can help here allowing credit managers to maintain control and ensure even tedious tasks are completed efficiently and to a high standard.
Credit managers will be no strangers either to other standard areas of frustration that impact spreadsheet-fixated businesses. Users feeling that they are having to do the same monotonous tasks repeatedly is usually a sure-fire sign that the business needs dedicated software. From inputting data to carrying out credit reviews to managing late payments, specialist software can make workers faster at their job and bring broader business benefits too.
Another key area is ease of access to information. Business systems are often overflowing with data. However, if users are not able to access that data and process it into useful information, then it is unlikely to be doing the business much good.
Even with custom-designed Microsoft Excel sheets, it is typically a manual, time-consuming task to collect relevant data; keep up it to date and make sure it is easily accessible, and the risk of incorrect information, inaccurate financials and cash flow mismanagement is always high.The consequences of these kind of errors can be severe in financial and reputational terms.
An Alternative Approach
With the right dedicated credit management software, however, organisations and their users can access that data and turn it into intelligence that can help the company survive and thrive. Chief financial officers can, for example, use the data to spot trends, examine growth and monitor progress while credit managers can use it to create a credit scoring model and identify the largest customer credit applications, for example.
The big advantage of the best quality specialist credit management software is that unlike spreadsheets, it has been designed specifically with the credit professionals in mind. That means that it will typically integrate with relevant business systems that the customer has and provide a variety of tools for streamlining workflow.
Moreover, it will automate many everyday tasks like data entry, processing payments and correspondence. Added to this, its specialist nature allows it to provide users with the information they need when they need it and makes it easy to share data across business functions.
In short, this type of software allows credit management users to save time on repetitive tasks giving them the chance to focus on customer service and building long-term-relationships. And that’s important. After all, to do a job well, you need the right tools for the job.
UK delays review of business rates tax until autumn
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance ministry said it would delay publication of its review of business rates – a tax paid by companies based on the value of the property they occupy – until the autumn when the economic outlook should be clearer.
Many companies are demanding reductions in their business rates to help them compete with online retailers.
“Due to the ongoing and wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, the government said the review’s final report would be released later in the year when there is more clarity on the long-term state of the economy and the public finances,” the ministry said.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak has granted a temporary business rates exemption to companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, costing over 10 billion pounds ($14 billion). Sunak is due to announce his next round of support measures for the economy on March 3.
($1 = 0.7152 pounds)
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)
Discounter Pepco has all of Europe in its sights
By James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) – Pepco Group, which owns British discount retailer Poundland, has targeted 400 store openings across Europe in its 2020-21 financial year as it expands its PEPCO brand beyond central and eastern Europe, its boss said on Friday.
The group opened a net 327 new stores in its 2019-20 year, taking the total to 3,021 in 15 countries. The PEPCO brand entered western Europe for the first time with openings in Italy and it plans its first foray into Spain in April or May.
Chief Executive Andy Bond said its five stores in Italy have traded “super well” so far.
“That’s given us a lot of confidence that we can now start building PEPCO into western Europe and that expands our market opportunity from roughly 100 million people (in central and eastern Europe) to roughly 500 million people,” he told Reuters.
To further illustrate the brand’s potential he noted that the group has more than 1,000 PEPCO shops in Poland, which has a significantly smaller population and gross domestic product than Italy or Spain.
The company, which also owns the Dealz brand in Europe but does not trade online, has already opened more than 100 of the targeted 400 new stores this financial year.
Pepco Group is part of South African conglomerate Steinhoff, which is still battling the fallout of a 2017 accounting scandal.
Since 2019 Steinhoff and its creditors have been evaluating a range of strategic options for Pepco Group, including a potential public listing, private equity sale or trade sale.
That process was delayed by the pandemic, but Steinhoff said last month that it had resumed.
“The business will be up for sale at the right time. It’s a case of when, rather than if,” said Bond, a former boss of British supermarket chain Asda.
Pepco Group on Friday reported a 31% drop in full-year core earnings, citing temporary coronavirus-related store closures.
Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 229 million euros ($277 million) for the year to Sept. 30, against 331 million euros the previous year.
Sales rose 3% to 3.5 billion euros, reflecting new store openings.
($1 = 0.8279 euros)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by David Goodman)
Fashion-focused livery launch reveals new colours for Gasly, Tsunoda in 2021
Scuderia AlphaTauri debuted their colours for the 2021 Formula 1 season as drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda unveiled the team’s new look with the livery for their AT02 racecars. The setting was a fashion-forward launch in the all-new showroom of AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s premium fashion brand.
Salzburg (AUSTRIA) – Formula 1 team Scuderia AlphaTauri served up a stylish preview of the new F1 season with a presentation of its 2021 livery alongside key looks from the upcoming Autumn/Winter 2021 collection of Red Bull’s premium fashion brand, AlphaTauri. The launch – held at AlphaTauri’s new showroom in Salzburg, Austria and presented digitally – marked the first time that drivers Pierre Gasly of France and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan have appeared together as teammates.
After a successful first season racing in AlphaTauri colours, the Italian outfit is looking to challenge the top of the ultra-competitive midfield in 2021, and the two young drivers have been assigned clear-cut roles. Gasly is Team Leader. The 25-year-old, who made his Formula One debut with the team in 2017 under its former name, Scuderia Toro Rosso, has earned two F1 podiums. During the 2020 campaign, Gasly’s maiden win at Monza was a defining moment for him and the team under its new name.
Tsunoda, 20, is the first Japanese driver to race in F1 since 2014, his promotion coming off the back of a fast, four-season trajectory from winning the 2018 F4 Japanese Championship and finishing third in the 2020 FIA F2 Championship to entering the top-level ranks this year. Expectations are high for his rapid style of learning to complement the experience of Gasly.
“The decision to go for Pierre and Yuki in 2021 was taken because Scuderia AlphaTauri’s philosophy is still to give talented young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Program the opportunity to step up to F1 and to educate them – this is why Yuki now gets his chance,” explained Team Principal Franz Tost. “With Pierre on Yuki’s side we have an experienced driver, who can help our Japanese rookie to develop faster, but at the same time we can aim for good results. I think this pair is the best possible scenario to achieve both our targets, and I’m also confident this will be a successful one.”
In 2020, Scuderia AlphaTauri won best livery by a landslide, and the team’s all-new, matte blue and white racecar livery took center stage with the drivers at the fashion event, anticipating the 2021 model that will debut at pre-season testing in Bahrain on 12 March. The test is the precursor to an unprecedented 23-race schedule, and in preparation for the demanding calendar both drivers have spent time at Red Bull’s Athlete Performance Center for intense fitness testing.
“I’m ready to take on the role of team leader. Yuki is a very quick driver, and he will help us move the team forward – we will work together to achieve that,” said Gasly, the team’s all-time top points scorer. “I really believe last year was the team’s best in terms of the way it worked, the development, the performance and the way it managed the race weekends. I’m always hungry for more, and I’m sure we can achieve great things in 2021.”
Tsunoda, who was honored with the Anthoine Hubert Award for best Formula 2 rookie in 2020, added, “I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Scuderia AlphaTauri ahead of the season, so I’m already developing strong relationships and learning a lot from them – including Pierre, who is an incredible talent. My main goal is to learn quickly and deliver results as soon as possible, and I’m really excited to get started.”
The launch at the AlphaTauri Showroom not only gave Gasly and Tsunoda a preview of the AlphaTauri Autumn/Winter 2021 fashion collection, but the drivers had the chance to select their new off-grid looks ahead of the season start.
Ahmet Mercan, CEO AlphaTauri, summarized: “This is a triple reveal at a unique point of time: a new AlphaTauri Showroom where fashion meets F1, a first look at the AW21 AlphaTauri collection and the unveiling of the new Scuderia AlphaTauri F1 livery and driver pairing.”
Scuderia AlphaTauri fans don’t have long to wait for racing action: The FIA Formula 1 season kicks off at the Bahrain Test on 12-14 March, in preparation for the Bahrain Grand Prix on 28 March.
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