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Fluidly sells out to OakNorth Bank
Fluidly

OakNorth Bank acquires Fluidly

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​Christmas may have come early for the shareholders of cashflow app developer Fluidly - we talked to its founder to find out more about its deal with OakNorth Bank.

15th Dec 2021
Editor at large AccountingWEB
Columnist
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OakNorth’s acquisition of cashflow app developer Fluidly was announced on Monday, although the deal value remains undisclosed. It's a move that OakNorth founder and group chief executive Rishi Khosla called a “strategic fit” with the digital bank’s vision to help scale-up businesses get access to fast, flexible debt finance.

Fluidly’s use of live accounting data and forward-looking analytics will provide a valuable pipeline to lending facilities for underserved businesses OakNorth describes as the “missing middle”. With a network of around 1,300 accounting firms using its cashflow app, Fluidly would expand OakNorth’s reach among small and medium-sized UK businesses.

Fluidly itself already links users to sources of online finance, but as part of OakNorth, the funding ceiling will increase from around £500,000 to £5m-£10m, Fluidly founder and chief executive Caroline Plumb told AccountingWEB.

“We started thinking about the next phase of the business and when we met OakNorth we liked their vision of the ‘missing middle’. It felt like a natural combination,” she said.

Fluidly will continue to develop its intelligent cashflow app and work towards tighter integration with OakNorth’s Credit Intelligence Suite, which also uses machine learning and real-time data insights to speed up lending decisions. 

Competitive commitments

Fluidly is also still committed to hitting its target to support 400,000 small businesses on its platform by September 2022 under the terms of the Banking Competition Remedies grant it received in 2019. Another commitment Fluidly undertook was to open a regional hub in Newcastle with at least 15 employees by December 2021. That has now been achieved, Plumb said.

Fluidly is hoping to sign up 10,000 accounting firms to its network and still has some way to go to achieve that aspiration. But Plumb said the company has continued to build its accounting network since a burst of activity during early 2020, when accountants turned to specialist apps to meet demand for cashflow forecasts to support Covid-support loan applications. 

Fluidly made it possible for accountants such as Soaring Falcon and Inform to support clients with free versions of the app, which allowed clients to carry out “keep your head above water” analyses. Partly as a result of this adaptation, Fluidly’s Goal Planner module won the 2020 Accounting Excellence Award for software innovation

Defying the trend

While feedback from AccountingWEB’s current insight survey suggests that only a minority of progressive practitioners are sticking with cashflow apps they embraced in 2020, Plumb said Fluidly has defied the market trend by growing its accounting network by a factor of three in 2021.

“Our business model isn’t just about forecasting, but using data insights for cash management,” she said.

“We don’t think of ourselves as part of the accounting world or banking world. We get subs for software, but also revenue from finance and funding. There’s a real interest in the data flows between accounting ledgers and other financial systems. What we are seeing is convergence between these two camps with more hybrid systems.” 

Khosla, meanwhile, hinted that the digital bank’s appetite for acquisitions wouldn’t necessarily stop with Fluidly. “We continue to be open to evaluating acquisitions which help us further our mission to empower the missing middle.”

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