Dynshaw Italia, Soldo’s CFO, explains how the company has moved to aid businesses in controlling spend, and how to grab the opportunities that the pandemic creates.
Dynshaw Italia, CFO of fintech company Soldo, feels lucky. Having started his career at KPMG, he became the fifth employee at travel agency eBookers, accelerating his path to CFO as he helped to build the business from nothing to $1.4bn.
He then joined Cobra beer, starting as CFO, then becoming CEO, moving on when it became a joint venture with Molson Coors. He then worked for water tech company Bluewater Bio. His last role was with Lebara Mobile, before moving to Soldo.
Italia sees the COVID-19 crisis as an interesting and trying time for finance teams. With Soldo’s focus on real-time expenses control, he is particularly aware of the cashflow issues that many businesses face at the moment, and how that’s influencing the direction of change. “The finance function has become more prominent; it gains more importance during a time of crisis.”
In a time of crisis, the focus shifts to cost control and cash flow, he explains. The team is focused on continuous forecasting and re-forecasting, which is simpler in the fact that it is solely based on costs, but it’s much harder to determine when things might improve.
“Cashflows are very hard to forecast…are your customers going to pay you back or not? Your working capital forecast becomes very, very important. Also in a crisis, there’s a higher demand for information. People want to know things quicker.
“At the moment, cash is no longer King. It’s gone up a level. In a crisis, cash becomes God or Emperor.”
Companies are demanding quicker and quicker turnaround for information anyway, says Italia. They want financial data instantly. As consumers today, we are so used to an on-demand economy, and that is disseminating into the workplace.
Italia and his team have identified four main pain points that finance functions currently face. The first is delegation of payments; these are often controlled by one or two people within an organisation, which can be a block to any necessary release of funds. The second is the difficulties with controlling spending at source. Third, the manual reconciliation of expenses at month-end, and fourth, the ability to track real-time spending.
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Having identified these pain points, Soldo has attempted to address them through multiple wallets and currencies at company and departmental level; the ability to create virtual and physical cards linked to cost centres and departments, with daily and monthly budgets; the auto-tagging of expenses; and real-time analysis of expenses. “There are a lot of technologies that actually are very, very simple to implement. Within 24 hours, you’re up and running, you could have your card set up. And you could be using the platform and controlling your spend.”
Growth companies often start with technology that’s cost-effective and simple to use, Italia explains. Once the company reaches a stage where it’s starting to scale, it will then need to review its entire suite of technology. “If you wait too long, there’s never a good time to do it. If you are on that, 100 miles-per-hour growth trajectory and you’re trying to change your entire system, you’re going to have problems.”
Cloud-based technologies allow for companies to build layers of technology on top of the base platform – there is much more available integration between different software and that makes life easier for businesses, Italia says.
“I always believe in one philosophy: you either adapt or you die,” he says. “…You have to be changing with the times. If you stick to the philosophy that the finance function is trying to provide accurate information for decision making as quickly as possible. How you do that? What technology do you use? Agility is not necessarily the type of technology that you’re using, it’s the ability to provide that information. And technology is just a tool to be able to do that.”
Finance departments are put under a lot of pressure to deliver information, says Italia. Everyone looks to them for insights. Functions should focus on finding new ways to project cashflow. “Look at ways of innovating and adapting rather than standing still. Because if you stand still, you will not survive. Look at innovative ways of creating revenues and controlling costs.”
Ultimately, this period should be all about survival, but there are opportunities, Italia says. More businesses and customers are moving online. In that regard, transformation is already occurring. “There’s a change happening and we have to take advantage of it.”
Soldo is a spend and expense management platform, complete with Mastercard® cards, intuitive admin and effortless reporting. Their mission is to simplify the entire business expense cycle, from beginning to end. We use the smartest financial technology to solve the three key business spending problems: delegation, control, and reporting. Learn more here