10 May 2023

Business Breakfast With MHR: Sharing Expert Finance Knowledge

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Last month, MHR and Insider Media invited finance leaders from across the East Midlands to join one of our resident finance experts, Jonathan Rose, and discuss how finance management tech can support businesses in sustainable growth.  

With leaders from a breadth of business sizes and industries, the business breakfast made for extensive insight into personal experience with finance management tech, and the growing need for education in financial digitisation.  

In the session, there were three key topics covered: when should businesses invest in their finance management tech, skills gaps in digital technology and accessibility to future tech.  

‘Oftentimes bigger businesses are followers, not leaders’. 

The first discussion point was around when and how businesses should invest in their finance management tech. This invited conversation around some larger businesses being more risk averse than smaller businesses due to the large investment risk in a volatile environment. According to leaders at the event, this is especially commonplace in retail.  

In an industry primarily powered by physical transactions, the pandemic forced businesses to adapt at scale to improve the customer experience. And where this has seen significant progression, back office and finance teams are left behind.  

As one leader described – ‘it is the risk of investing versus the risk of not doing anything’. The time to invest is now. And more education is needed for businesses to understand that software investment is not just a necessary cost – but an enabler to drive business forward.  

‘Businesses are still avoiding automation’. 

And enablement is key. In the session leaders discussed their experience in supporting businesses in introducing finance management software to day-to-day processes. A common blocker is the interpretation of the software.  

With processes often staying the same in a business for several years, software is altered to support those manual processes – moving the heavy admin online – rather than altering processes to get the most benefit from the platform.  

A big contributor highlighted in this trend is the difficulties of change management. In industries such as recruitment, with a dispersed business structure, implementing substantial changes such as software integration can create added complexities that many leaders may not want to take on.  

Another key factor discussed was digital literacy. For small businesses, it can be tricky to decipher the good software from the bad software, and the potential impact it can have. And for a business where software will be a significant line in their balance sheet, this can create a sense of nervousness and risk.  

‘We need a more affordable route to market’. 

This then raised the question about making finance tech, and future developments, accessible for businesses of all sizes – from both a skill set and an investment perspective. Our finance leaders highlighted the importance of creating an affordable route to market for businesses, with easy-to-use software that will suit all skill levels. With the inevitable rise of AI, mobile transactions, blockchains and workflow automation – more work is needed to support businesses in accessing these platforms to grow and adapt at scale.  

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