1406, 2018

Should CFOs Care About Customer Experience?

By |June 14th, 2018|Categories: Blog|

According to a report by Accenture, 90% of business-to-business (B2B) executives point to Customer Experience (CX) as a critical factor to achieving their strategic priorities. However, only 20% of B2B companies excel at CX, presenting a huge opportunity to capture new revenues by increasing focus on CX and making investments to improve. Conversely, a whopping 80% of B2B companies are at risk if they do nothing, as they will see their revenues bleed away to competitors that make the change. So you may be wondering what does CX have to do with a CFO and why should the CFO care? Isn’t CX a marketing responsibility that belongs to the CMO? Both are great questions and the answers are simple. Most CFO’s will tell you that their top priority is to act as a steward of working capital (WC) and to manage inbound and outbound cash flows, ensuring that their company can continue to operate in good standing. Inbound cash flows are revenues that will be driven largely by CX as more and more companies optimize customer experience in order to compete in a competitive marketplace. See where am I going with this? Visionary CFOs planning for the future financial health Read More

406, 2018

Treasury Modernization – Are Banks Missing the Boat?

By |June 4th, 2018|Categories: Blog|

While commercial clients account for, on average, less than 15% of bank’s clients, their deposits often represent over 50% of total deposits. So why aren’t banks innovating and modernizing their treasury products and offerings to better serve this important commercial base? Driven by the need to keep up with consumer expectations around payments and mobile apps, banks have prioritized innovation around their personal banking divisions. Think of how drastically payments have changed in just a short time, with seamless payment processes of an Uber ride, P2P e-transfers, and mobile payments such as Starbucks to make consumers lives easier. Commercial Clients Are Expecting More Commercial clients are beginning to request these same innovations for their finance teams. “Why can’t we have business payments and mobile apps like I have in my everyday consumer life?” The shiny new toys in retail banking are now giving way to the need to innovate on the commercial, side as commercial client expectations are changing. In speaking with many of the banks in attendance at this year’s NACHA Payments and Finovate fintech shows, treasury departments are starting to accelerate research around commercial innovation and fintech solutions. What was “18 months down the road” is happening now Read More

1805, 2018

Do Tenants Really Pay On Time?

By |May 18th, 2018|Categories: Blog|

I talk with commercial real estate (CRE) property accounting teams almost everyday. One complaint that I hear again and again: tenants regularly miss their rent. This may be surprisingly to most, but after a couple of years of hearing the same message day in and day and day out, I now understand why. CRE accounting teams just can’t continue to manage their collections process the same way they always have. A process that more often than not, involves a property manager knocking on the door. So how can property accounting teams start to think differently? Here are some insights on how to address this as an organization, how to begin to think about collections differently, and most importantly, to start getting paid on time. Communication is key, and not just at signing. Sign a lease, agree to the terms, and off we go. If only it were that simple. With just about every vendor or service provider comes an invoice or bill which requires payment. Real estate is unique. In most cases an annual rent statement goes out by paper with the agreed upon terms and then tenants are left to their own devices to pay. This is one form Read More

1405, 2018

Strategies for Optimizing Your Accounts Receivable (Updated for 2018)

By |May 14th, 2018|Categories: Blog|

While customer-centricity, disruption and innovation continue to be keynote themes at conferences this year, teams across North America continue to power their day to day operations with the same tools and approaches they were using when the Y2K bug was dominating headlines. Today, I’d like to share some inspiration with you around the topic of optimizing your accounts receivable process, with a focus on the shift in mindset that leading companies are adopting as they prepare their teams to drive an exponentially greater impact on DSO and working capital through 2018 and beyond. Across industries, leading AR teams are prioritizing the delivery of great experiences, an emphasis on the importance of the customer relationships, and a shift towards working in real-time. Let’s unpack each of those in a bit more detail. 1. Deliver Great Experiences The reality is that the benchmark for great experiences is not being set by B2B organizations today - it’s being set by the B2C brands that have recognized that digital platforms are a primary interface with their customer base, and continue to iterate on ways to create frictionless interactions for their customers. While the accounts receivable process continues to heavily rely on offline touchpoints (printed Read More

905, 2018

5 Reasons To Take A Holistic Approach To Your Accounts Receivable Process

By |May 9th, 2018|Categories: Blog|

I recently attended a convention keynote where the presenter spoke to the impact the Fourth Industrial Revolution on all aspects of business. This Fourth builds on the digital revolution, with the fusion of emerging technologies that are growing at an exponential rate. It is disruptive, especially with the recent focus on RPA and AI, with automation leading the charge in all aspects of our lives, professionally and personally. Yet when we think of one of the most fundamental areas of finance, Accounts Receivable, we still see AR teams taking a traditional approach, full of manual processes, disjointed practices, and segmented core functions, such as presentment, collections and payments. So how do these AR teams catch up, scale, and maybe even get ahead of the curve? It’s simple - they need to take a holistic approach to their AR process. Most AR departments only solve half of the receivables problem with their current resources. Here are 5 reasons that you need to take a holistic approach to the AR process: 1. Improving the efficiency of your invoice-to-cash cycle will get you paid faster. As an AR team, DSO is likely one of your strongest - and most feared - metrics. When Read More

2504, 2018

Low Cost Money Taking A Toll On Corporate Finances

By |April 25th, 2018|Categories: Blog|

The High Cost of Low Interest is the title of The Hackett Group’s US Working Capital Survey. The survey is available here. The survey is free to download, but registration is required. Hackett’s 2017 survey will be available later this year. James Daly, CEO of Euler Hermes Americas, published an article in based on the earlier survey. Since we know that the Fed’s intent is to keep raising interest rates, left unchecked current practices are going to grow increasingly costly. Both the survey and the CFO article are worth reading. The survey’s conclusion is that “lax working capital management habits learned in easy credit years are starting to take a toll.” The survey calculates working capital based on the latest publicly available annual financial statements of the 1,000 largest listed non-financial companies in the United States, according to statistics gathered by FactSet. The study reveals that in 2016, the 1,000 US companies borrowed another $413 billion, adding 9.3% to their overall debt level, even though cash on hand stayed essentially the same (up 0.4%). These 1,000 companies are $4.86 trillion in debt, more than double their level of indebtedness in 2008. The study notes “that might not seem too Read More

2802, 2018

The Future of Operational Finance

By |February 28th, 2018|Categories: Blog|

A recent promotional piece from Deloitte describes how Operational Finance should be the epicenter of upheaval. But Deloitte’s experiences with companies around the world leads it to believe that most companies are “sleepwalking” into this future of inevitability – with nearly 50% of the time currently still being spent on data extraction and modelling, leaving precious little time to support decision-making and change management. Deloitte’s cross- industry benchmarks indicate that more than 60% of the time spent within the entire Finance function is spent on operational Finance activities. Many of these activities are still manual, where the median performer: Processes 23% of accounts payable vendor invoices automatically Processes 59% of accounts receivable customer remittances automatically Has automated 19% of total key controls   Sound familiar? Deloitte says each organization should ask where it sits on the evolutionary spectrum. Today, the role of the CFO is under greater scrutiny, internally and externally, and faces never-ending pressure to cut costs, grow revenue and ensure control. Economic uncertainty, increased regulatory requirements, financial restatements and increased investor scrutiny have forced them into the spotlight. It’s not surprising that CFO turnover is on the rise. Deloitte has advice: Establish the strategic direction to understand the Read More

612, 2017

3 Secrets You Didn’t Know About Accelerating Collections

By |December 6th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Collect Smarter|

When it comes to the invoice-to-cash process, the most common pain point next to cash application is collections management. If you’re in finance you can relate to the manual steps, time-consuming efforts, and constant back and forth with customers... all while your receivables continue to rise. The collections frenzy is all too real in organizations today. Collections teams are in a sense firefighters: they put out raging fires, respond to collections crises and rescue the cash they’re owed from bad debt. Once they’ve put out one fire, it’s off to the next one burning down the street. A common trend for most organizations is to fix this issue by adding headcount, this, however, is a temporary fix. Not only do collections continue to rise, but also the number of people needed to manage it. The result? More overdue accounts, handled by a growing collections team. This situation is not fiscally sustainable. So how can you better manage the collections challenge? First, we must recognize the nature of collections: traditional, reactive and lack of real-time insight. In a manual process, collections data represents a static point of time (ERP reports, XLS sheets), narrowing your team’s view of overdue accounts to a rear-view Read More

1911, 2017

The Deloitte Working Capital Series

By |November 19th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Save Time and Money|

Deloitte has published its Working Capital Series, that includes Strategies for Optimizing Your Accounts Receivable; Strategies for Optimizing your Accounts Payable; Cash Management; and Strategies for Optimizing Your Inventory (read report here). I enjoyed the Strategies for Optimizing Your Accounts Receivable. It is a short and worthwhile read. The series argues that given the cost of new capital, no business can afford to let its existing capital go to waste. However, often a business doesn’t realize how much cash is trapped on its own balance sheet. Freeing up that cash – by optimizing its working capital – delivers more than improved operational efficiency. It also gives a company the added liquidity it needs to fund growth, reduce debt levels, lower costs, maximize shareholder returns and even outperform its competitors. The article notes that most businesses have AR policies that dictate when to bill, how much to bill and when to collect. Unfortunately, not all businesses enforce those policies effectively – or even adopt the right processes at all. In many cases, it comes down to culture. A business that prioritizes sales often falls into the trap of extending credit to customers, offering discounts or ignoring payment terms if it means Read More

2709, 2017

Why Financial Institutions Are Banking on Integrated Receivables

By |September 27th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Gain Insight Into AR, Make Customers Happy|

Are you behind on your Integrated Receivables Strategy? An integrated receivables hub is needed more than ever to future-proof business and banks are taking notice. But this wasn’t always the case. Three years ago, integrated receivables management was beginning to surface on the radar of banks, but most didn’t take action. According to Celent’s 2014 survey of US large banks, 92% rated integrated receivables (IR) management as most important to their future growth. But according to Treasury Strategies, only 1% fully implemented a solution. Why? Banks accepted the notion of integrated receivables but hesitated because of lack of control and high costs. To add to this, lockbox technology - a great revenue source - was greatly improving at the time. Optical character recognition technology (OCR) eliminated the need for banks to manually keystroke remittance information. This allowed them to seed more accurate data, reduce paper and process remittance information faster. But even in light of this advancement, today one foundational problem still exists - payment information is siloed in disconnected systems and in different remittance formats. This makes reconciliation and cash application inefficient both today and in the immediate future. According to Aite Group research, 60% of corporations are not Read More

109, 2017

Improving the B2B Customer Experience

By |September 1st, 2017|Categories: Blog, Make Customers Happy|

An article published by McKinsey correctly argues that adopting a customer-centric mindset is just as critical in B2B dealings as it is when serving retail customers. The article, Improving the Business-to-Business Customer Experience says that more and more executives are developing B2B customer-experience strategies with striking results. McKinsey says that B2B customer-experience index ratings significantly lag behind those of retail customers. “B2C companies typically score in the 65 to 85 percent range, while B2B companies average less than 50 percent. This gap will become even more apparent as B2B customer expectations rise.” Driving these expectations are digitization and the increased use of smartphones. This is establishing new standards for fast, seamless customer service in all settings. “Real-time responsiveness and easy-to-use apps for daily banking chores or ordering groceries are setting a high bar for speed and ease of doing business in B2C industries, and these expectations are migrating to B2B.” McKinsey says that digitizing the customer experience is a lever often left unused by B2B companies. “There is great potential in the B2B realm in using concepts such as self-service, online interfaces, and automated decision rules. For example, the use of digital “track and trace” interfaces enables B2B clients to Read More

1508, 2017

FinTech for Commercial Real Estate? Here’s 12 Reasons Why.

By |August 15th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Collect Smarter, Gain Insight Into AR, Get Paid Faster|Tags: , , , , |

According to KPMG, this year in Q1 2017 global investment in FinTech companies hit $3.2 billion across 260 deals… and this is just the beginning. The way the internet changed publishing and music, FinTech is now changing industries like commercial real-estate (CRE) by modernizing the old-school processes used by finance. It’s no secret that collecting receivables for CRE companies is a challenge and managing multiple tenants can be frustrating. Without an effective platform to communicate rent charges, CAM fees, and tax across multiple locations and divisions, cash flow can be stifled with no real insight. FinTech is the answer for today’s CFOs and Property Accountants who need innovative technology to meet the digital appetite of customers, improve their experience, streamline processes, and access real-time data to make real-time decisions. A financial technology gaining traction with CRE companies is tenant platforms powered by accounts receivable (A/R) automation. With the ability to manage all tenant rental charges, payments and collections in a cloud-based platform, AR automation eliminates manual processes to save time (reconciling payments, reissuing invoices, chasing down tenants’ sales numbers) and refocuses efforts on high-value activities like tenant experience. Take Brixmor Property Group for example. They needed to improve communication with Read More

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