10 signs your finance team is going through global expansion
The finance team is the beating heart of any business. Money flows through them, money flows from them. It’s essential that the finance team stays as effective as possible and constantly pushes to optimise and improve.
We spoke to Airwallex’s own finance team to see what makes them tick, and the types of finance teams they’ve come across in their careers and, crucially, how we can help.
1. The finance team with multiple tabs open for multiple bank accounts
This is a common trait among finance teams. After all, if we have a home country bank account, it makes sense to find a US bank account when the CEO tells us we’re expanding to the United States… right? It might work for the first few markets, but it’s certainly not scalable. And managing all of those applications, T&Cs and top-ups is an added complication you don’t need.
How we can help you: We give you one platform which lets you set up multi-entity business accounts in over 60 countries and 12 major currencies. All from the same multi-user webApp.
2. The finance team that bills everyone in dollars
The way you handle payments says a lot about your customer experience. You might simply think it’s easier to only operate in one currency. What we do know is it can undermine a customer’s confidence in their vendor if they have to fork up an FX fee to pay for your service. The same also goes for paying suppliers and staff in your home currency - it builds the relationship if you can make it easy and pay in the local currency.
How we can help you: Open local accounts in 60 countries and 12 currencies so you can collect in your customer’s preferred currency and settle like-for-like to avoid conversion fees. Pay out in 46+ currencies and accept 160+ local payment methods.
3. The finance team that has suppliers complaining about missing or late payments (because of SWIFT)
SWIFT payments were instrumental in creating standard financial messaging around the world in the later twentieth century - they’re not going anywhere, in much the same way that Slack won't replace postcards. There are multiple challenges with SWIFT: You’re prone to FX fluctuations which means it’s not guaranteed how much the recipient will get. And that’s before talking about the 2 - 5 days the transaction is in transit.
How we can help you: We’ve built financial partnerships around the world so that 93% of our payments are made on local rails (not SWIFT), and 77% of which are same day payments.
4. The finance team that isn’t sure how much they’re paying for payments
1%, 2%, 3.5%... I just need to make this time sensitive payment! Bank charges (for the privilege of making the payment) and conversion fees (the amount charged to convert the currency) all add up and it’s not always easily accessible. The worst case scenario is you’re being charged to collect and convert into your own currency and charged again to convert it to another currency (perhaps even the one you collected in the first place!) to pay a supplier; it’s called the conversion trap.
How we can help you: We charge a 0.5% FX fee to convert currencies but most customers opt for like-for-like settlement where they collect and spend the same currency. We can offer this fee structure because 93% of our payments go down local rails, as opposed to costly SWIFT payments.
5. The finance team that doesn’t have clarity on who and how to approve
Pre-approval, line approval, department approval, sign off, approval-to-pay… At best you’re using the generic approval flows within your accounting software. At worst, it’s an email approval. It becomes problematic when you try to scale approval flows as you add more geographies.
How we can help you: Payments go hand-in-hand with approvals. We’ve teamed up with accounting software, ApprovalMax, who offer customisable approval flows as an add on to your accounting ledger (Xero etc). Payments are automatically triggered and reconciled between ApprovalMax and Airwallex.
6. The finance team that sets the company card PIN to 1234 (and only has one company card)
This one is self explanatory. It’s not scalable and open to abuse.
How we can help you: We offer limits, controls and audit trails on company debit cards. You can create unlimited virtual cards in the company name or empower employees to have their own physical card with two factor authentication. And you can set the PIN to something harder to guess.
7. The finance team with an overspending company
Payment-happy companies are a nightmare for the finance team who treat company cards like an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s difficult to track card balances and who’s spending, let alone get the approvals in place before employees spend. Tracking down countless invoices and receipts is not what you want to be doing at month’s end.
How we can help you: Our expense management cards come with all time card limits which max out at pre-approved totals. Unlimited virtual cards can be spun up instantly to individual employees for a set balance and can be easily reconciled to a specific invoice. You can control where employees spend, or designate a certain currency or set of currencies. You can even have multiple users authenticated to use a shared card.
8. The finance team that’s up at 1AM sorting a declined prepaid card for a stranded employee on a business trip
There’s nothing worse than the text in the early hours from the director who's had their company card blocked when trying to check into a hotel. It kept happening to the Managing Director of Perspective Pictures while out working in Los Angeles and he calculated he spent 20 hours on hold to his high street bank at 1AM over the course of a month.
How we can help you: Our Visa cards come with customisable spend controls and can be used to securely pay online or added to a phone wallet for use in the real world. More importantly though, the cards are multi-currency and pull funds from the account (rather than being topped up as is the case with pre-paid).
9. The finance team suffering from tool sprawl
Each time you spy an opportunity to make a business process more efficient, It’s easy to implement a best-of-breed point solution, especially if you’ve just raised funds. But those solutions can mount up. Introducing: Tool sprawl. A patchwork of solutions that can create inefficiencies and unnecessary costs, especially if you have high staff attrition and a quick product roadmap. And that’s before considering the impact on employee training and new starter efficiency. It pays to find a solution that can do as many functions as possible.
How we can help you: Collections, treasury, accounts, cards, expense management, pay-outs, FX… all in one platform.
10. The finance team that has to fly a director to the new market to sign up for the new company account
A new market means a new business account. And a new business account means an in-person signature from a company director. Not anymore.
How we can help you: Set up multi-entity accounts in a few clicks within Airwallex. Need one for the UK? Check. Need one for France? Oui. Need one for Australia? No stress mate. You can even issue a company card that draws from your new in-country company account to kit out the new office in the local currency without leaving the first employees out of pocket. It’s a shame about the director’s frequent flier miles though.
David manages the content for Airwallex. He specialises in content that helps EMEA businesses navigate global and local payments and banking.
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