Fluidly, an intelligent cashflow management engine, captured the machine learning zeitgeist at Xerocon, where it launched at the event after having secured £2m in seed funding.
As part forecasting advisory software and part cashflow management, Fluidly is difficult to categorise. But to boil it down, the fintech application takes data available in cloud accounting packages and with machine learning, it predicts the financial future of businesses.
Where this differs from similar products is the machine learning intelligence which frees the cashflow forecasting from the reliance on spreadsheets and financial modelling software, and inputting the data manually.
“The great thing about that,” founder Caroline Plumb, told AccountingWEB, “ is you can see how we think a business will perform in the future, rather than having to be something you do in batch processes manually and infrequently.”
In practice, the data dashboard interface, using ledger information, shows through graphs and charts what’s been paid and what’s predicted, with the data updating automatically.
Goodbye rear view mirror forecasting
Breaking away from the crowds at Xerocon, Plumb explained how the application will disrupt the traditional “rear-view mirror” forecasting. “It's not much help figuring out what happened in the past, you want to know 'so what' and what can I do about it coming up?'” she said.
In the video above, Plumb discusses in-depth Fluidly and the rise of machine learning.
As someone who has developed businesses for over 15 years since leaving university, Plumb understands the pain points businesses endure when trying to scale.
So when she decided to do something new, she wanted to solve the issue that had dogged her businesses: the challenge of managing working capital, forecasting cash, and managing cash.
Describing that lightbulb moment, she questioned why there wasn’t technology available that could provide real-time insights with a forward view of most important assets in the business: the financial transactions.
“I had been really frustrated with the lack of tools that gave me the visibility into the future that I really wanted when I started a business,” she said.
Improving working capital
And as the UK’s ambassador for professional services, Plumb has further reasons to ensure businesses improve their working capital. “What we are trying to do is give businesses forward visibility on their cashflow,” she said. “So if they need outside finance or want to make better decisions and they have both that time to consider their options and make the best choices because when you are in a corner, you limit your choices.”
In essence, Plumb explained, Fluidly is about extending the timeline so businesses can make better choices around financing, structure, and spotting not just trouble spots but also opportunities.
Finance directors and accountants may be resistant to the idea of AI, but Plumb insists that this technology is not here to control us but to “add capability and provide time to do the things that really add value to clients and not in the processing”.
Plumb said the machine learning intelligence behind Fluidly still allows accountants and finance directors to be the last line of defence as the information can be overridden manually.
“What we are trying to do is help people spot things that might be off and surface that for them to check. We are going to flag false positives and draw people's attention to areas of potential risk and opportunity, so they can make the right decisions around that.
“Otherwise you are left with a process where you manually have to go through everything and you get overwhelmed by the volume of transactions.”
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.