Interview

19 September 2018

Digital companies need better and faster financial advice Digital services for digital customers

Start-ups are forging ahead with digital technologies and accountants must keep up, highlights Sara Green Brodersen, CEO of deemly, a Danish tech start-up offering a reputation and social verification tool for P2P marketplaces and sharing economy businesses.

Sara represents the new face of the client today. Her company is digital by design and she laments that: “It’s really difficult to get affordable advice relevant to our business reality.”

Digital technology is at the core of deemly’s day-to-day operations: “As a company, we surround ourselves with new technologies that enhance our efficiency, for example to leverage data and to help us predict better.”

And she has a clear vision of the service she wants to see from tomorrow’s accountant superhero: “What if I could have a very affordable way of managing my business from every aspect of accounting and financing – access to an AI financial advisor or CFO when I needed it?”

She sees such AI technology as already available, just in need of ‘training’ in the right way by accountants to draw upon masses of data on different types of young businesses like hers:

“Once this big data has been harnessed, I’ll have easy and affordable access to see how my business is doing, identify the critical areas we need to work on and quickly see what other businesses are doing to help with the same issues.”

A more tailor-made service, please?

Sara is looking forward to the personalisation that AI can bring to the financial advisory services her start-up company needs, as she feels that accountants don’t properly understand her business as a whole:

“We work in the sharing economy, it’s a very new, developing industry. We also work in a space where data is key, not primarily revenue. So, for some accountants that we’ve met, it’s mind-blowing that we’re not going for break-even.”

She goes on to explain “We’re dependant on outside investments – we’re a venture capital case. We therefore have different KPIs to more traditional ‘buy and sell’ businesses, for example we look at unit economics rather than EBIDA.”

A huge opportunity for accountants

There’s a clear gap in providing effective advisory services on financing and fundraising to businesses like hers according to Sara, and so a huge opportunity for accountants.

Currently, her experience is a frustrating one: “When we ask on the financing side, many accountants don’t even know how fundraising works! At the moment, I have to reach out to other founders, other CEOs for that type of advice.”

Superhero skills?

Sara relies on her accountant’s skills in understanding and advising on the “traditional number crunching bits”. What she sees as a current and future challenge for the accountancy profession is adaptability, specifically regarding how new businesses work:

“The challenge is that accountants need to be more adaptable in terms of understanding different types of businesses, and exactly how they work. I see this as a basic skill, and so I think it’s something that accountants have to be properly trained in.”

She has a straightforward message to share as founder and CEO of a digital start-up in the new economy:

“If you want to maximise the value of digitalisation, first learn how new companies like mine are already using digital technology. Then, harness it yourselves to offer us better, faster, more affordable and more transparent services.”

 

Sara was a panelist at our latest Digital Day. See the event page and watch her intervention.

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