SMEs “losing billions” due to poor cash management

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When her Majesty the Queen launches a ship, she smashes a bottle of Champagne against the bow and the world’s media gather to hear her speech.

We do things a little more discreetly here at Akoni!

This week – after months of hard work behind the scenes – we are proudly launching our exciting new platform to help SMEs manage their cash.

We are starting with what the marketers call a ‘soft launch’. There’s no big public fuss or palaver, and we haven’t invited any royals along. Although, admittedly, we might toast the event with a cheeky glass of fizz!

But why is there a need for Akoni in the first place?

Because, even in this low interest rate environment, UK SMEs collectively miss out around £3bn per year on interest on the £258bn they have in cash balances. We think that’s wrong, and decided to do something about it!

There are banks that offer interest rates up to 2.2% compared to high street 0%. However, most companies are not aware of the better rates that are out there, due to lack of product transparency. What’s more, they are put off by the perceived cost of switching.

How Akoni benefits SMEs

It takes time to shop around for the best business bank account, and then transfer your cash deposits to the product where they will achieve the best interest rate.

This is where Akoni comes in.

At AkoniHub, SMEs can download their personalised cash report and search latest rates at a glance. Then, using our simple Deposit Planner, they can unlock the potential of their cash and maximise the returns they receive.

Here’s an example

The average business improves their return by 10-12 x current income. For example, an SME has £2 million cash  held in an instant access account. By transferring the money to banks with higher rates, the company would generate an additional £30,000 per year, even maintaining the same deposit maturity period.

That return could buy more than a few bottles of Champagne! More feasibly, it could provide for a new marketing campaign or a staff member, contributing to the SME’s productivity and profit and boosting the UK economy.

Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, CEO and co-founder of Akoni said: “SMEs are the engine of the UK economy. By saving them time and helping them make more money, Akoni will make a real impact.”

And there’s more!

A survey by Soldo states that UK SMEs collectively lose more than $10.2 billion every year, because they aren’t managing their cashflow properly.

The research found that SMEs average over four hours per week on managing company finances such as invoices, employee expenses and financial forecasting. The scale of the task grows with the size of the business, but even 15% of startups said they found daily cash management to be a particularly difficult challenge.

Soldo Founder and CEO, Carlo Gualandri, said: “If staff were freed up to dedicate their time to the activities that made a big difference to the company, productivity levels would rocket.”

Technology is the answer.

In order to save time and money, technology is helping to automate many business systems and processes, and cash management is no exception.

We’ve harnessed technology to build a range of simple and efficient tools that are now available for SMEs to use straightaway:

See Akoni’s tools at a glance

  • Deposit Marketplace
    Check today’s best rates at a glance, and filter them according to the governance requirements of your business.
  • Cash Management
    Your personalised Cash Management Report shows how much interest you gain by utilising Akoni’s tools, and provides tips and guidance for optimal cash flow management.
  • Deposit Dashboard
    Build your cash deposit portfolio by trying different alternatives until you find what works for your business.
  • Income and Expenditure Planner
    Enter your key cash inflows and outflows to create an efficient portfolio that maximises returns, while ensuring future expenses are covered.
  • Financial Bootcamp Report
    Get sector-based data that will help you identify opportunities and areas for cash management improvements.

Felicia said: “Akoni solves a problem that most SMEs don’t even know they have, and enables them to access  corporate-level returns on their cash.”

Signup for free at AkoniHub.com

Coming soon…

But we’re not stopping there!

Akoni members will soon be able to access a range of additional cash management services on the platform, such as an Automated Cash Allocation algorithm and advanced Cash Projection tools. It’s all part of the Akoni mission to help UK SMEs to make the most of their cash.

We think her Majesty would be proud.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

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Leaving the Lab

As you may know, Akoni was among only 20 startups selected for the fifth Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab London. It was a honour to be chosen out of more than 300 applicants from around the globe.

Tom Graham, programme director for the Lab, said: “The Fintech Innovation Lab London is helping startups forge ties to thrive at home and abroad…[and] offers lightbulb moments to banks with exciting innovations that can help make financial services work better.”

The Lab was developed to help startups refine and test their proposition through a three-month accelerator and mentorship programme. This year, it was held in the Trampery Republic, an innovation facility at East India in London’s Docklands.

Sigga Sigurdardottir, Head of Customer and Innovation at Santander, said: “It’s positive to see London taking a leading role in shaping and defining the global fintech innovation agenda.”

Akoni’s time at the Lab has recently finished, and we’re now back at our offices in Westminster.

It was a privilege to be part of the programme, and to experience the various benefits that will help Akoni, our customers, and our partners. For example, we were able to network with many fascinating people, including the Accenture team and other innovative startups.

Our team were invited to attend bank events, and had the chance to meet top execs and decision-makers from global financial services institutions including HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Citibank, Santander, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and more. Collaboration with banks is a key part of the Akoni offering, so these introductions are invaluable to our growth and the service we offer.

What’s more, we had personal mentoring from experts within the fintech and banking sectors, which provided us with useful insights. We were also granted the chance to deliver follow-on presentations with Accenture and banks.

This all added up to provide Akoni with the acceleration we’d hoped for.

Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, CEO and co-founder of Akoni confirmed: “The Lab has accelerated our proposition and helped us refine our value to businesses and banks. We have made invaluable connections and gained amazing mentorship from the banks. Banks are now working with us, and we see this as an endorsement of our collaboration.”

Find out more about the Lab

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

Akoni exhibits at the International Fintech Conference

First International Fintech Conference

Following our success at the Accenture fintech innovation lab and working with a number of key banks, we at Akoni were delighted to be selected to exhibit at the first international conference for global investors, regulators, and UK fintech companies, organised by HM Treasury and the Department for International Trade.

Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, said:

“Britain is the best place in the world to start and grow a fintech company. These events are a great opportunity to show why. The first ever International fintech conference brings together dynamic UK firms with an exciting vision of the future, and global investors who can support their future growth.”

Over 100 UK fintech companies were represented, with investors attending from every continent. Akoni was one of the few early stage machine B2B fintechs selected.

Asia is seen as the most exciting destination for market expansion and the UK government is working with India to create a fintech Bridge to serve China, Singapore and other markets.

Our Head of Finance & Analytics, Cinthia Danove, said: “The Department for International Trade are making huge efforts to bring Chinese money into UK, and we saw many Chinese funds walking around. UK regulators are the only ones that have Innovation as part of their mandate. They are outstanding at doing that.”
Speakers on the packed agenda included:

  • Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Mark Carney, Governor, Bank of England
  • Simon Kirby MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury
  • Eileen Burbidge, HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for FinTech
  • Alastair Lukies, Founding Partner, Motive Partners & Prime Minister’s Business Ambassador – FinTech

We also heard from representatives of TransferWise, Funding Circle and HSBC, as well as many more.

We learned that Barclays plans to open a fintech flagship Hub next month, with 500 workspaces for startups, further cementing London as a leading fintech powerhouse.

The event was held in London on 12 April as part of a whole week dedicated to UK fintech, aiming to promote the success of the sector and attract more investment. To find out more, please follow #IFTC2017 on Twitter, visit internationalfintechconference.com or watch the video below.

UK is number one in fintech

The UK has been rated the number one global fintech hub twice in the last year. With a workforce of 600,000, the sector adds almost £7 billion to the economy each year. UK fintech is really shaking up the competition and challenging more established players to up their game – resulting in improved services to customers.

We’re proud to play a part in this revolution.

Akoni highlights to date

Large companies can pay for treasurers and treasury management systems. Akoni uses technology so that smaller businesses and SMEs can get the same benefits, but without the cost. By acting as a hub between business and banking partners, Akoni disrupts traditional banking and benefits businesses.

CEO and co-founder, Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, explains: “Scientific tools are changing the way we work in financial services, right down to conventional cash management activities that are traditionally based on Excel and TMS. Akoni plans to be a key leader and driver in delivering these changes. At last, corporates and SME businesses have access to similar facilities as global institutions do.”

The platform is also available to banks on a white-label basis, leveraging emerging Open Banking standards to provide game-changing liquidity management, customer stickiness and cost savings.

Deputy Chairman, Yann Gindre, says: “SME cash is currently non-profit making for banks, so Akoni could be a game changer.”

Having delivered cash portfolio optimisation, the Akoni R&D team are in the process of building groundbreaking cash prediction capabilities, leveraging statistical forecasting combined with Machine Learning and Neural Networks. This provides SMEs with more accurate predictions of their future cashflows as well as in-depth analytics, personalised insights and tailored prompts, aligned to their own accounting and forecasts.

CTO and co-founder, Panos Savvas, says: “Akoni will leverage data science and machine learning to forecast cashflows. By recognising historical patterns and categorising transactions, Akoni will create more accurate forecasts for SMEs and businesses.”

Having successfully completed our second round of seed investment, we have progressed to live product launch. The investment round is led by our Chairman, Duncan Goldie-Morrison, previously Chairman of Newedge Limited; CEO Credit Agricole The Americas and Head of Global Markets Group and Asia, Bank of America.

We’re also proud that Akoni was selected as a finalist of the Accenture fintech innovation lab in London, leading fintech startups in Retail Banking, working with large global banks including RBS, Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays, etc, and presented amongst the top three retail stream fintech startups.

The government is planning another international fintech conference in October. We look forward to taking part there too.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

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HRH, The Duke of York, visits Akoni’s new home at Accenture’s fintech lab, the Trampery Republic!

The Trampery is a new shared workspace for creative and tech start-ups, which Akoni has the pleasure to be part of due to being selected amongst Accenture’s top 5 in the Retail banking stream for the Innovation Lab. Akoni is an innovative platform for ensuring SMEs are making the most of their cash, in an easy and simple manner, and was selected as a technology driver to improve financial returns for businesses.

As patron of the Trampery, HRH The Duke of York, came to meet some of the young businesses that are now based there. Among these are the various creative sectors as well as participants from Accenture’s largest fin tech innovation lab yet, including Akoni.

HRH was very impressed and said: “it’s fantastic to see fin tech alongside Art-Tech and so many other things. The number of skills melted in an organisation like this is hugely beneficial not just to the companies who are inside the building but to those outside too.”

Akoni is excited to be part of this project and we are maximising our time working with other innovative entrepreneurial start-ups as well as the incredible professional lab team.

See the full article in The Warf http://bit.ly/2kScHPg

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

 

 

Akoni selected for the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab

 The Akoni team is excited to announce we are one of five Retail Banking fintech startups selected for the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab in London, amongst the cohort of twenty across categories including CIB, Insuretech and Tech4Tech.    The Lab is a three month accelerator and mentorship programme uniting fintech startups with global financial services institutions, including HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Citibank, Santander, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, amongst others.      The programme focuses on meeting the top execs and decision-makers at partner banks as well as legal, pitching and proof of concept mentoring.

Further information on the programme and the other startups selected can be found at https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/fintech-innovation-lab-london-kicks-off-largest-programme-in-its-five-year-history.htm

The Akoni team is ensconced in our new offices, and surrounded by an awesome environment and passionate teams, with the bonus of incredible London views.    We are looking forward to the acceleration of the experience!    Our team is working on several product releases and collaborating with various new partners over the next few months, aiming to deliver value for the UK’s 5.3 million businesses!   We are already thoroughly enjoying the shared experiences with other startups, the awesome Accenture lab team and our mentors and banks.

About Akoni:

Akoni is an innovative fintech startup which aims to improve financial outcomes for businesses while at the same time providing banks with benefits including customer loyalty and increased margin through Basel III LCR reductions.

The Akoni platform is a digital cash treasury manager and uses technology and data science to provide customers a cash portfolio manager, business marketplace which is updated daily, and personalised cash report and dashboard, as well as innovative cashflow projection tools including algorithm-based allocations, automated monitoring and utilising statistical techniques and neural networks for projection outcomes.

Akoni’s chairman and lead investor, Duncan Goldie-Morrison, is a seasoned banking CEO and Chairman. Mr. Goldie-Morrison  was previously CEO of The Americas Credit Agricole CIB, Head of Global Markets and Asia, Bank of America, Chairman of Newedge Group SA and Newedge UK, President Ritchie Capital Management and Director Kleinwort Benson Bank. The business is further supported by the Deputy Chairman, Yann Gindre, previously CEO of Natixis UK and the Americas and financial services veteran.

Founder and CEO, Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, explains: “Scientific tools are changing the way we work in financial services, right down to conventional cash management activities that are traditionally based in Excel.  Akoni plans to be a key leader and driver in delivering these changes. At last, corporates and SME businesses have access to similar cash management facilities to institutions with in-house treasurers and Treasury management systems. We are delighted to be part of the Accenture fintech lab, working with people and organisations of such calibre and looking forward to the programme innovation drive for our business.” 

Banking sector undergoes disruption

The UK banking sector is already facing a range of issues, including ‘banking as a service’, ongoing cost reduction pressures, opportunities and challenges as a result of CMA requirements, open APIs and PSD2, and the Challenger Banks bringing a new approach to services and customer solutions. Businesses are part of this change, with the latest Accenture 2020 SME Banking report showing that 70% of businesses are prepared to pay non-banking customers for financial services.

To date, fintech innovation has been focused primarily on consumer banking for B2C and lending for B2B. Now, for the first time, Akoni brings technology benefits to UK SMEs and businesses for cash treasury management, with further business products planned in future roadmap.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

Onwards and Upwards: StrongJones renames itself Akoni

There are many advantages to being involved in the very first stages of a startup: the buzz of pitching to potential investors; the pressure to innovate and invent new and improved product on a regular basis; the kick of meeting new recruits to the Dream pretty much every time you see each other. You form a formidable posse knowing that each of you has a common belief in the vision of your startup’s success.

Ours is a startup company in the earliest phase of development. The idea behind the business is feasible – we’ve proved that with our model works well: we’ve identified our target market, and it looks promisingly large enough to sustain a business – in fact the more research we do, the better it looks. No doubt changes will be made and pretty much every aspect of the company will be revised and reviewed many times until perfected, but the point is, the ball is in motion, and it’s direction is being determined by our little team. 

As part of the development process, we’ve been trying out names for our startup. We’ve all been looking at the market reactions to the original name, StrongJones, and we’ve been engaging in much “new name” banter. This has lead to much team hilarity, as you can imagine – but it has also lead to much thought about our brand essence, and where we are heading.

As a consequence, it has been unanimously decided that StrongJones no longer suits us, we have moved on. Our target market is More in so many ways. We need a name that is more inclusive – more accessible and more current, after all our target market is professional, money-savvy, forward thinking and innovative.

strong-jones-logo-1
OLD LOGO AND NAME: StrongJones is being replaced with the more up-to-date name, “Akoni”

 Out with the old, and in with the new

We have decided on “Akoni” as our new business name (in case you were wondering, Akoni is pronounced: [ 3 syll. a-ko-ni, ak-oni ] ahKOW-Niy- †). Akoni is often used in the Hawaii as a name derived from the longer version Akonani – however its language of origin is Latin, it being a variant form of the English male name Anthony. Akonani, Akoni and Anthony all mean (more or less) the same thing: “inestimable or priceless”.

akoni_png
NEW LOGO AND NEW NAME: Akoni means “Invaluable”

Akoni has been born out of a real need to help SME owners to find a better way to maximise the cash savings they have worked so hard to accumulate. The driven and experienced team is headed up by Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, no stranger to the finance world. Felicia, chief tech genius, Panos Stavvos, and experienced banking industry advisor, Yann Gindre, met whilst studying at London Business School, and have managed to set up an experienced and skilled team, bringing in Duncan Goldie-Morrison as the chairman. One could hardly wish for a better grouping of capable business brains whose combined extensive experience covers global and UK banking, insurance, financial accounting and systems and technology, data analysis and especially SME businesses.

So – watch out for the next steps in our Akoni evolution. This is a startup now – but just you wait. Akoni will make an enormous difference to SME businesses across the UK – and further afield – in the near future. In the meantime, the team behind the new name will keep those innovative ideas coming, because they’re passionate about making Akoni a success.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

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