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Fluidly

Fluidly to close its doors in April

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Cashflow forecasting app Fluidly by OakNorth has announced it will be closing permanently to accountants at the end of April and integrating with its digital bank parent company instead.

3rd Feb 2023
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In an email to customers, Fluidly said that as part of an integration with parent company OakNorth, it will stop providing access to customers at 5pm on Friday 28 April 2023. 

Fluidly email snippet
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Gavin Fell, VP Commercial at Fluidly, told AccountingWEB that since the company’s acquisition by digital bank OakNorth in 2021, the working relationship had become closer and the move was therefore a natural progression.

“We now feel that it’s the right time to further integrate Fluidly’s business with OakNorth,” said Fell. “This move will see us expand our tools for businesses on a go-forward basis, as well as accelerate our ability to support ambitious SMEs with future-looking finance that can drive their growth.”

Cashflow tool boom tapers off

Founded by Gravita CEO Caroline Plumb, Fluidly launched onto the FP&A scene in 2017 with a promise to deliver “an intelligent cashflow engine backed by machine learning”, and in 2019 was awarded £5m as part of the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) programme, committing it to hit a target of supporting 400,000 small businesses on its platform by September 2022 under the terms of the grant. AccountingWEB asked OakNorth and BCR officials whether it had hit this figure and will update this article in due course.

It expanded rapidly during the pandemic as businesses flocked to cashflow forecasting tools to plan for an uncertain future and access government-backed loans such as CBILS (which required financial projections and cashflow forecasts as part of the application process). Originally designed to work with Xero, it added integrations with QuickBooks Online in 2019 as part of an extensive product revamp.

However, the forecasting boom tapered off in 2021, with statistics from AccountingWEB’s insights team showing that rather than use best-of-breed cashflow forecasting solutions, accountants preferred Excel or the forecasting app embedded in their accounting platforms.

The market for cashflow forecasting software has consolidated considerably in the last two years. Fluidly was acquired by digital bank OakNorth in December 2021, while in 2022 Sage acquired Futrli and Access Group bought Fathom.

A new phase for forecasting?

The shift may mark a new phase for cashflow forecasting tools. Speaking to AccountingWEB in July last year Colin Hewitt, founder of independent cashflow forecasting app Float, said it was becoming clear that the remaining standalone tools can’t just be standard forecasting solutions.

“If it’s too generic, the business isn’t going to be able to live with it in the short-term cashflow space,” said Hewitt.

According to Hewitt, SME forecasting tools built into accounting solutions are appropriate for the smallest companies that just need a basic cashflow projection, while cloud add-ons like Futrli, Fathom and Spotlight cater for advisory accountants who work with those kinds of companies. 

Float has shifted away from the advisory accountant channel and is now focussed on selling direct to £1m+ businesses, while the likes of Oracle NetSuite, AccountsIQ and Intacct target businesses that have outgrown SME accounting and planning tools.

“The two sectors that we see growing are project-based businesses and product-based companies who sell via ecommerce platforms,” he said. The latter are now facing rising supplier costs and delays that are causing a lot of stress on their cashflows."

Replies (6)

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By Hugo Fair
03rd Feb 2023 23:41

Another example in the Cloud = Bad book ... less than 3 months' notice that it will all be 'switched off'!

If this was desktop software then you rather than the supplier decides when usage ceases (unless of course you're Sage and make sneaky licencing checks via the Internet anyway).

Presumably the plan is that OakNorth (who they?) will pick up clients on the back of this decision, with Fluidly mere collateral damage in the marketing wars?

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By D V Fields
04th Feb 2023 21:23

Cash flow forecasting probably has two major uses. Entities with large cash surpluses who are managing their treasury requirements and then those with short term difficulties. In both cases the chance of credible numbers coming from an App to make informed decisions would be slim.

The former are more likely to need projections based upon specific criteria. The latter will be more concerned with managing cash on a day to day basis through typical credit control measures and similar until the crisis passes.

Gimmicky Apps are just that whilst cash flow is serious at its extremes. Apps will come and go. When it comes to serious cash flow forecasting, for me, Apps wouldn’t even get a look in compared to the versatile Excel.

“Fluidly is fundamentally rethinking the way businesses plan and manage their finances, from cash flow to funding.”

They should stop rethinking and understand what they actually do; then they might have a chance.

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Replying to D V Fields:
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By CW2012
06th Feb 2023 09:05

I agree, when its down to serious business then a properly modelled Excel spreadsheet knocks spots of the restrictive cash flow Apps.

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By Emma1990
05th Feb 2023 20:31

Not only didn't Fluidly hit their 400,000 target, employees lost out on all share options and the investors didn't get a return they hoped.

'Last year Octopus Titan made two disposals at a loss: it sold cash flow business Fluidly to challenger bank OakNorth, while online platform Trouva was acquired by now-collapsed retailer Made.com for negligible proceeds compared with an investment cost of £13mn.'

https://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/news/2023/01/27/a-recession-is-a-gr...

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Replying to Emma1990:
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By D V Fields
06th Feb 2023 10:51

Perhaps they relied too much on their own Cash flow App.

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By fishfishyfishfish
09th Feb 2023 09:34

After all these years my firm still finds Winforecast an excellent cashflow forecasting tool, both reliable and very intuitive - far superior to all the flashy overhyped 'intelligent' forecasting apps including those mentioned here.

And yet Sage don't even support Winforecast any more, a great shame in my view.

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