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David Elms, Customer Experience Director at discusses how, amidst the number of technological innovations on the market today, SMEs in the financial sector should still spend time investing in their core product – Excel – to get their team up to scratch, leverage other technologies that make Excel more powerful, and use the time and money saved to improve their business.

Before making a large investment into new fintech, first consider how you can supplement your core tools with clever platforms that save you time and money

With a new ‘must-have’ innovation for the financial services sector emerging what seems like every day, if you’re considering where you should make your next technological investment it would be understandable if you were to become overwhelmed by the amount of choice available.

Should you go for that all-new analytical tool that gives you even deeper insight into how your website is performing? What about a personalisation software based on new-found algorithms, promising the best user experience on the market? Or perhaps it should be that just-launched comms platform that keeps you and your team connected around the clock (because business never sleeps)?

For some businesses, these innovations are an absolute necessity and an investment that will pay dividends very quickly. However, for small and medium-sized businesses, investment in technology needs a much simpler approach: what will save my business time and money?

As an SME working in the financial sector specifically, additional capacity and resources identified via the implementation of technology that supplements a core tool like Excel, for example, might allow for a much deeper level of analysis into what caused a company to become insolvent. This would lead to your consultancy with the client being at a more expert level than previously attainable and could gain such a positive reaction from the customer that they go on to recommend you to other companies in need of support. As a result, you see your revenue grow.

So before considering innovations that would replace the ‘basic’ tools you are fluent in using, instead consider this approach to investment:

Invest in your core technologies

Excel is the bedrock of the financial industry. Though it’s one of the oldest pieces of technology on the market, when its full potential is realised, it can be game-changing to financial services companies. As such, the most important investment you can make is in training your team to use Excel proficiently and professionally, helping them understand all its capabilities and the possibilities it creates for them to do more for your business and your clients. Be proud to your clients that Excel is all you need to do your job; they’ll be responsive to knowing you’re not using their money on expensive innovations, but instead, are using a program known across the world.  

Invest in technologies that integrate with Excel 

If you’re going to spend money, spend it on tools that work in partnership with Excel to save you time, and therefore money. Excel is the best tool available for data analysis, but it can also be improved by technologies that make it quicker and easier for you to get started with using it. For example, find a program that can convert PDF bank statements to Excel to save your team the pain of manually typing in pages and pages of financial data – a time consuming and resource-draining task. Ensure to use a software that promises 100% accuracy in data conversion to protect your business reputation and to demonstrate to clients you get things right the first time. And in this technological world where connectivity can also be to our detriment, use a program that is completely secure meaning your clients’ data is never at risk of being breached.

Reinvest the efficiencies you make back into your business 

Now that you’ve used a supplementary technology to increase team capacity, you’ll soon begin identifying opportunities to reinvest the time and money saved into things that benefit your business. Again, take it back to basics. With the extra time you realise, spend it nurturing client relationships or team building. With the money saved, develop your training schedule, invest it into attracting new talent or reward your team with bonuses to increase motivation and generate more productivity.

It’s not in doubt that technology will play a major role in your business – this is the world we live in. The key to using technology for the greater good is to be selective with your investments; being an expensive product, or being a new product, isn’t congruous to being a useful tool for business. Instead, consider how you can supplement your core tools with useful technologies that identify where you can make valuable changes to your business, meaning that instead, you can make your biggest investments into your team, your clients and your brand.