In this interview, I talk to Amy Harris, Co-Founder and CMO of FUTRLI, about making the uncertain, certain.
What does FUTRLI do?
FUTRLI is designed to help businesses succeed. Think of it like a sat-nav for businesses and advisors. It plugs into cloud accounting software so you can automate controlling cashflow or accelerating growth with forecasts, advanced reporting/dashboards, KPIs, alerts and monitoring etc. We do a lot all in one platform so that the data can intelligently work harder for you, it also helps with lots of efficiency gains too.
For accountants, we help to remove any roadblocks which have prevented true profitability and scale from advisory services. We do this by having a really solid, flexible platform so that when you need to get the job done – month-end reports, real-time dashboards, VC funding – you can. However, software alone isn’t going to help a firm scale advisory services. The piece of the puzzle which was missing was education and that’s why, together with our global community, we have created a certification programme to help accountants become advisors.
What are the benefits of FUTRLI to the customer?
One bar group tripled their profits using FUTRLI while another multi-aviation group raised $7m in VC funding, these success stories are incredible. I think our customers describe it best; one digital agency MD and Founder said he felt “anxious and vulnerable” making decisions before FUTRLI and another said it is the “insight and confidence to be able to make the right informed decisions” that they love the most. You can read more customer stories but ultimately – because we real-time connect your accounting software to a platform that allows you to monitor your KPIs, review targets, deep dive with analysis and reporting, forecast your future and scenario plan different outcomes – it’s like running your business in the dark…and then turning on the lights.
How does FUTRLI interact with the accounting system?
We synchronise data automatically with accounting packages. We only pull data, and so never write (or request permission to) to the customer source data. We aim to update as often as possible, and this happens usually within every 24h period. Users can manually request a data sync if they wish to bring in their latest transactions.
Who should avoid your addon?
If you run a small lifestyle business walking a few friend’s dogs, then we are probably not for you. Equally, if you’re an accounting firm that wants high volume and low margins compliance work with no client relationship then we’re not the right fit for your firm either.
How do customers get started with your addon?
It varies – some self-serve, others work with our team, some use an integrator – it depends on what suits your needs really.
What is the most important thing your company does for a customer?
That’s a tough one! If I was thinking only about our accounting partners, I would say it is everything they need, from training and education to market-leading software, that allows them to deliver genuine advisory services. The type that clients actually want, really need and will absolutely pay for.
What is the main environmental factor you see affecting your customers at the moment?
Uncertainty. And, I would stress that is the real opportunity for accountants – making the uncertain, certain.
How/Why did your company get started?
We needed it!
Hannah and I were running a previous software company and using cloud accounting software but we were fed up of forecasting in spreadsheets, pulling together multiple data sets into Google slides for Board meetings and just generally being so ineffective. We needed to run our business looking forwards, not backwards. We wanted to be alerted to opportunities we could leverage or warning areas we need to sort out there and then.
We also wanted to have a better relationship with our accountant – they only helped us with tax but we needed an advisor to help us control cashflow and accelerate growth. We couldn’t find anything in the market that ticked all of our boxes and helped us operationally run our business, so…we built it!
What was your motivation to change the company name from CrunchBoards to FUTRLI?
I am giving you the long answer here! Our motivations were explained here and I do think it needs this context: https://www.futrli.
FUTRLI has a focus on looking forwards; How do you think machine learning will play into that?
It is already playing a part in the changing role of the accountant. As compliance tasks are automated, there is more focus on personalising and humanising the numbers – this is where the value is. Making sure your client has a better grip on their business than they ever thought possible.
This is two-fold, of course, machine learning is also being applied to the role of the advisor and helping with planning and prediction. It is a really exciting time in the profession – we came at this as business owners ourselves, knowing what we really wanted from our advisor. The things we dreamed of we are now seeing in action!
How do you help customers succeed during an implementation?
We have launched an industry-first, internationally accredited CPD programme: Advisory Certification. In 6 in-depth courses, covering 25 individual modules you’ll become a world-class business advisor. This is an online course but our team of Account Managers will work with you offline to track your own KPIs and make sure that your training and implementation is a success. After all, if our partners are not successful, we can’t be either – that’s the whole purpose of a good partnership in my eyes, success for both parties.
What was your driver in producing the Advisory Certification?
I could write up reams and reams here, or I could just share this blog with images! https://www.futrli.
“Since our launch back in 2014, we have witnessed (and been part of) a huge change in the accounting landscape. The cloud has brought never seen before automation advancements. Business owners expect and demand higher levels of service than ever before. But, change is hard. How do you learn new software? How do you sell it to your clients? How do you motivate your team? How much are you going to charge for it? How do you advise your clients with confidence?
It is these common challenges that prompted us to bring together everything that we have seen, learned and experienced, from both our partners and business owners, to produce this comprehensive training programme. We’ve worked across time zones with industry experts to ensure this is truly end-to-end – no matter where your client is based, what their turnover is or how well they understand their numbers.”
What part of FUTRLI do people overlook that they should focus in on?
Good question! Our alerts engine is immensely powerful and when advisors (and business owners) start using it this quickly becomes their favourite feature, even if the motivation to use FUTRLI wasn’t the business monitoring aspect, when you start getting automated warnings in advance of success/warning areas, it’s definitely a stress reliever.
Why should a customer use a cloud integrator?
Know what your time is worth and where you really need help and support in your business. If “data plumbing” isn’t your strength, outsource it to those who can do it right first time.
What are the main causes of failure for an implementation?
FUTRLI is not a replacement for you and it can’t work without you. If you sign up and don’t do anything…it can’t be a success.
How do you ensure customer data is secure?
Pretty much everything from our security page;
– Continuous monitoring and intruder detection
– Services run in a VPC (private cloud)
– Data/Access is firewalled in our VPC
– We control using access control lists who can access what data
– There’s not public access points to data
– We never show the actual data, only calculated results
– Strict data access layers ensure that customers cannot access others data.
– Our automated test suite and integration tests implement multiple positive and negative permission checks.
– Every time a line of code gets updated, our test suite checks everything is working as expected.
– It only takes one test failure to stop any new code getting through the pipeline.
– We use the latest SSL in-transit encryption for all data sent between server and client browser within our application.
– TLS 1.2 protocols, RSA 2048-bit SSL, ECDHE-RSA-P-256 key exchange and AES-128-GCM ciphers ensure your data cannot be siphoned & decrypted
What tool/tools do you use internally that you couldn’t live without?
Trello and Slack are a huge part of my day.
What do you see as the main differences between the markets at the moment? (Aus / NZ / UK / US). Do you find FUTRLI translates well into Asian markets?
We have customers all over the world – for us, I think we see the differences less because there is a certain profile of firm who are becoming advisors and they typically look the same whether they are based in Singapore or Ireland.
Where can we keep up with FUTRLI?
[Thanks Amy! FUTRLI is also in the Addon Directory – Liam]