Futrli Platform ushers in ‘the new advisory’
After a lengthy period of development and testing, Futrli is launching a new small business forecasting and management tool this week.
Described as an “all-in-one smart cockpit” for small businesses with between 5 and 50 employees, the Futrli Platform has been tested with customers on Xero and QuickBooks Online since May. The full production version went live this morning (31 October) and will be on show at Xerocon in London on 13-14 November.
Frustrated at the way forecasting and analysis apps have failed to break into the mainstream, Furtli founder Hannah Dawson set out to create “simple, hands-off” tools that would help companies see what’s happening in their business – and point them in the direction of things they could do to deal with problems.
“We cannot keep pushing traditional advisory onto businesses who don't need it,” giving vent to the frustrations that motivated her, Dawson told AccountingWEB.
Futrli Advisor - the “classic” forecasting and reporting product that made the company’s name - will continue to cater for accountant-advisors, while the Futrli Platform will put simple business planning aids and prompts into the hands of small businesses.
“This is the new advisory,” Dawson said. “It’s totally new for accountants and totally new for small businesses.”
The Futrli Platform
The new Platform is starting out with Flow, a daily cashflow forecasting module. It will be followed shortly by two other components, Predict and Playground.
Flow builds a short term cash flow forecast by looking at customer and supplier behaviours in the accounting ledgers. Flow will construct a model from that information and predict when it thinks income will be paid. The tool is designed to tell businesses where their money is coming from and when and will suggest actions they can take to speed collections or slow down their outgoings.
Predict will deliver a longer term cash flow forecast, where the model is built automatically in the background with the underlying drivers presented to the user in normal business language such as sales lines, or employee numbers. The user and pull on the different levers and change their assumptions to see how that affects the forecast.
Playground will be a more flexible scenario-building sandbox that can take data from non-financial sources. So a marketing executive can look at their Facebook ad performance measured cost per click, site visits and conversion rates and see and how much they would have to spend to generate an extra £1,000 in revenue. As the name suggests, Playground will be a safe area for users to experiment without the fear that they might break the accounting system.
All these Futrli Platform tools will use similar machine learning algorithms and deliver their interpretations to customers via a social media-lie action feed.
Drawing lessons from the way that cash flow apps such as Float and Fluidly have done well by winning the loyalty of small business customers, Futrli will market its Platform directly to business customers via digital media, but it will also offer the Platform to accountants, some of whom may already use the Futrli Advisory system.
“The Platform is designed for both,” Dawson explained. “By solving the need for small businesses who don’t want that [Advisory] type of offering, we’re giving accountants a way to service those clients in a new way.”
Starting from $15/month, practitioners can offer the Futrli Platform to their clients, with discounts available for bringing larger numbers on board.
“The initial experience is hands-off for the accountant. Their only effort is to add a client, which takes about 45secs,” Dawson said. “We onboard and look after them by creating AI-driven nudges in their priority action feed. If something comes up they don’t know about, who they go to? The accountant, because they provide this service.”
There is no cost for clients, but Futrli has a “freemium” model in place for accountants who want to offer more. “There’s a ton of professional functionality, with more detail in the pipeline about the client’s dependency levels, credit scores and some other partnership’s we’re negotiating,” Dawson said.
The new advisory
The lengthy testing period helped the company refine how the Platform collects and processes the underlying data and how it behaves with users. “What sets the Platform apart is that the interpretation is done for the individual,” she continued.
“We’re driving daily active usage. It costs them noting and because of the business information we present to them, they can take action or check off their to-do list. In the medium term, it’s educating them to what’s happening in the business and giving them the terminology to effect change.”
“We’re trying to change human behaviour – so they take 5mins a day to check in. If they don’t understand something, they can check with their adviser. If the mass market were actually using reporting and forecasting tools, there wouldn’t be as many small business failures. What we want to see is advisers not seeing data preparation as their role, but offering their help - which is what advisory should be.”
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