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The magic mix

Right now, pretty much every leader in the UK is preoccupied with business survival. Barely a day goes by without us hearing of record-high inflation, the cost of living squeeze and a looming recession, which means making money and cutting costs will be more important than ever going forward. 

While it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the lights on, the spotlight is set to shine even brighter on the role of the CFO. You know the one – that figurehead of financial strategy and insight. 

But what if they’re tied up with payroll duties? Or too busy managing the team’s expenses from the busiest month yet? That’s where fintechs come in. Spend management platforms like Pleo help to digitise your company’s finances, freeing up time for your CFO to advise on business strategy. 

We caught up with Anita Szarek, Pleo’s CFO, to find out why the combination of fintech and a liberated CFO is a match made in heaven.

From CFO to strategic business partner

It might be 2022, but some businesses are still using (*deep breath*) manual or paper-based processes. These are prone to human error and out-of-date data, leaving CFOs out of touch with what’s being spent and where.

“Accuracy and accessibility are two very important assets for any CFO to have. And these are fostered by fintech” says Anita. “With an exhaustive list of processes to manage, CFOs can use tech to automate the day-to-day admin, while still getting the insights they need for accurate financial reporting.” Less time spent sifting through receipts and more time co-piloting the business? It’s a no-brainer.

“A CEO choosing their CFO is like a Presidential candidate searching for their VP.”

“A CFO’s relationship with their CEO should be a close one, where ambitions are balanced with financial reality and growth and resilience are fuelled by strategy. The key is to add a solid fintech solution into the mix to help make this balance possible.”

Get better data and spending insights

The assumption many businesses have is that by allowing their CFO to focus on strategy, their financial operations will be left unmanned. 

Yet by choosing the right fintech solution, these processes will grow to be more automated and provide leaders with the insights and financial data they need to operate in their role as a strategy maker.

“We’ve not arrived in the age of robots just yet, but think of a fintech solution as a CFO’s ideal assistant.”

Anita Szarek

Seeing the big picture of where your money’s going – whether on business travel, subscriptions, client meals or salary – can give CFOs a detailed look into your company’s financial health, and how it might need to change to turn the CEO’s goals into reality. Anita loves the way it helps her team “identify patterns and foresee problems, all without keeping them stuck behind a spreadsheet.”

Pleo Analytics gives you a detailed overview of all your company spend, grouped by category, team or tag. Find out everything from who the top spender in your company is to which employee has the highest number of missing receipts (tut tut). With insights at your fingertips, you’ll be able to make faster, more accurate decisions. 

Plus, we integrate directly with your accounting systems to make bookkeeping a breeze. No more manual reconciliation at the end of the month. No more uploading receipts to your accounting software. No more desperately trying to identify transactions without any context.

Transform your cash flow management

Too often, any admin an employee has to do around the business’s money can feel like a necessary evil. Expenses, for instance, can be an especially laborious process. 

Anita’s all too aware that “no one wants to search through coat pockets for old receipts and wait months to be reimbursed.” Equally, finance professionals waste too much time chasing employees for receipts and information that could be submitted faster with the help of tech.

“Before Pleo, our accounting was very manual and much more time-consuming.”

Emil Steenhouwer, CFO & Head of Strategy at Nornorm

Pleo is the perfect partner for finance teams looking to cut down the time they spend on expenses. It’s so simple that 77% of admins using Pleo spend less than an hour a week on expenses. That’s the time it takes to have lunch! Plus, automating your spend with Pleo can help you avoid expense fraud thanks to spending limits, real-time tracking and personalised expense policies.

Our research found that on average, UK employees are £4,000 out of pocket each year and have to wait 25 days to be reimbursed. “This problem is only set to get worse as employees need to keep hold of their money for their own rising personal expenses. Meanwhile, businesses need to ensure their own reporting isn’t offset by money in limbo between their account and their workforce’s wallets” according to Anita. 

Pleo Pocket comes in handy here. Out-of-pocket spending, cash spending and mileage are bundled together in one package making it easier to reimburse and track the money owed between your business and employees. You can invite all employees to track their spending through Pocket, even if they don’t have a Pleo card!

Cost or cost saver?

Fintech solutions are sometimes seen as an unnecessary overhead, but really they’re a cost (and time) saver. Pleo helps admins save 138 hours a year on average – just think about where these hours could be better spent helping to ride out the wave of economic uncertainty. 

That’s one of the reasons a liberated CFO and a fintech solution is the dream partnership for your business. Yet as many as 22% of companies say their organisation’s approach to adopting technology solutions is lagging. “At a time when a CFO’s financial insights are critical, businesses can’t afford to sleep on the value of their input. Because if they do, they’ll not only be shortchanging their CFO, but themselves too” says Anita.

Ready to embrace fintech and free up your CFO’s precious time using Pleo? Book a demo now and get started for free.

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