As lockdown continues and the younger generation exclaim that it would be so much worse without Wi-fi/Netflix, we must wonder how any of us would have coped if this had happened ten years earlier. While this strange world that we find ourselves in is not without stress and challenges, it has been amazing to see how smooth the transition from workplace to home has been thanks to advancements in technology.

From Joe Wicks streaming live PE lessons on YouTube, to FDs making quick decisions thanks to intelligent cashflow forecasts on their phones – we will look back at this time and be proud of how creatively we responded to the many challenges of Covid-19. The future may still be uncertain but let us take a moment to focus on the positive and look at how the advancements in financial technology over the last 10 years have helped prepare us for today:

Cloud-based software

Cloud accounting only really became accessible in 2010, although it was first developed in 1998. Fast forward 10 years and, today, most of our clients are using cloud-based accounting software such as Freeagent, Xero and Quickbooks. The software enables you to keep a constant check on accounting data and keep it up to date while working from home. In turn, your staff are able to work remotely from their own homes, all having access to up to the minute financial data at the same time. It also enables your adviser to monitor your business remotely and assist with any queries promptly.

Digital banking

The move towards digital banking over the last few years has made it easier than ever for SMEs to conduct their business from remote locations. With bank data being fed into accounting software automatically and digital payments easy to process, day to day business banking has carried on as normal despite lockdown.We are seeing more bank accounts available to businesses that can be opened in minutes via online applications, a process that was historically paper intensive and took days.

Paperless processes

Many sectors, including the accounting profession, are moving towards being paperless thanks to recent software developments. Cloud-based software such as Xero enables sales invoices to be produced and emailed directly to customers. Bolt on software such as Receiptbank and ApprovalMax are automating the payables side of accounting, whilst supplier invoices can be digitally stored and processed without the need for paper to be passed around.

Provision of up to the minute information

Now, more than ever before, the need for up to the minute accounting information has been crucial for SME’s to manage and respond to the challenges faced. When Rishi Sunak announced the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) our first impression was the access to cash would be almost instant and available to all.This has not proved to be the case. In order to be eligible for such finance, a company needs to provide evidence that their business is a viable one. Typically, banks are asking for up to date management accounts, cash flow forecasts and lists of business assets.With cloud-based accounting software, businesses are able to provide such information quickly. As advisors, we also benefit from instant access to a client’s up to date financial information, which has been crucial for us to assist in the application of such loans.

Coming back stronger

We are confident that when the storm has passed both ourselves and our clients can come back stronger from this. We should have confidence in how quickly we have been able to restructure our working practices whilst also demonstrating what financial technology can do.We would like to see more businesses reviewing their financial processes and benefitting from technology by switching manual data entry to automation. This will mean that while working remotely, new systems and practices can be implemented more easily, and more time can be spent planning for ‘what’s next’ rather than on time-consuming processes.

If you would like a health check on your financial systems or help in applying for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, you can contact us at proptech@haroldsharp.co.uk.