3rd Mar 2021

Partner or compete: A dilemma for the modern day CFO

Adopting new technology creates faster, more efficient processes giving CFOs the competitive edge.

But taking that leap is often easier said than done.

Large corporates are lumbered with legacy systems – which are tricky to integrate – and often rely on teams performing time-consuming manual tasks.

Modern CFOs know it’s time to invest in digital transformation, be that a smarter way of translating data, automating payments or improving cash visibility.

But if the CIO says it can be done in-house, do you build your own solution or partner with a FinTech expert?

Key factors to consider

According to KPMG 55% of financial institutions currently partner with FinTech start-ups, including 32% who partner with scale players that are not financial institutions.

Murray Raisbeck, former co-lead of KPMG’s Global FinTech practice said: “The resource intensity of the build approach and the challenges of procurement (integration, culture misalignment, risk management, the time needed to achieve synergies) are the reasons many financial institutions have focused instead on a partnership or collaboration model for FinTech innovation — a trend expected to accelerate in the future.”

Lead from the front

This may not sound like usual CFO territory but expectations are changing.

While tempting to stick to traditional finance tasks and delegate, there is a clear mandate for CFOs to now take the lead and drive forward this change agenda.

According to McKinsey & Company:  “Today’s CEOs and boards say they want CFOs and the finance function to provide real-time, data-enabled decision support.”

However, many in the role are content to leave digital improvements to other departments because they are ‘unsure of where to start’.

“CFOs must experiment or risk falling behind other functional groups in the organisation and other companies in the industry, whose digital transformations are already underway.

“Otherwise, they might lose a golden opportunity to help drive the business agenda.”

The advantages of using a FinTech

FinTechs, like AccessPay, exist to solve corporate pain points for CFOs.

Just as enterprise firms are legal experts or global manufacturers, we are in the business of digitalising finance functions. And we are excellent at it.

Caroline Meredith, Sales Director at AccessPay believes tactical outsourcing is vital in business.

She said: “As corporate why waste time trying to modernise your finance function yourself when there are experts in the field who have already solved that problem?

“We connect finance teams to banks and offer a cash management solution which improves visibility and security for CFOs. Developing a similar solution in-house would take years and a lot of extra resource.”

Founded in 2012, AccessPay is changing the way corporate and enterprise banking works – with a payments and cash management platform which is more integrated, intelligent and secure.

Caroline Meredith, AccessPay


Partner up for best-in-class solutions 

AccessPay also team up with other FinTechs, such as Fennech Financial, on specific transformation projects where a digital bank connection is needed.

Fennech provide corporate transaction banking services to a number of blue chip clients and are one of our many strategic partners, including ERP consultants and software vendors.

Max Pell, Head of Partnerships at Fennech Financial said: “Our partnership with AccessPay means there is a real step change from our competitors both in terms of speed to deploy and in cost.

“We’ve both built systems from the ground up that are sophisticated but quick to deploy because of the latest technology, so there’s a real speed to market competitive advantage to partnering.”

As experts our technology is already saving CFOs hundreds of hours in productivity and is ready to be implemented – instead of spending months on in-house development costs.

That’s not to say the in-house option won’t work out but as Max points out, it usually takes longer than expected as internal IT teams juggle priorities, limited resource and talent.

He smiles: “I usually just wait for the phone call six months later from the CIO to say they still haven’t got round to starting the project and can we help.”

Max Pell, Fennech Financial

Key takeaways

Whether you decide to compete or partner, as CFO it pays to emerge yourself in the possibilities and understand the future aims of your business.

Partnering with a FinTech is often a strategic play and not a tactical one, so it needs to align with long-term business goals rather than being seen as a ‘quick fix’.

Max advises: “Ask yourself if I go to the CEO and start talking about finance transformation is it going to strike a chord with them?”

For more insight check out the AccessPay podcast on our YouTube channel.