Your decisions are only as good as your data

Julie Dorthea Bøge


What does the word “value” cover?

For most of us, the word covers a meaning of adding something, increasing something suggesting that we get more out of what we already have. For Spar Nord and Kvist & Jensen the word “value” has been key to understand the relation to their clients. Value is something we create together, and through that we can create stronger companies. Today, they know that the relationship is dependent on their client data and a close collaboration for all parties to have the resources to do what they are best at.

You are about to meet two first movers, although they wouldn’t use that term to describe themselves. They will inspire you to see the opportunities that comes with an optimized collaboration between bank, accountant and company, and perspectivize how we can create value for each one another.  

Firstly, let’s us introduce Thomas Kristensen, Business Consultant at Spar Nord. He has been a valued part of the bank since his early years as office assistant. Thomas is driven by change processes.

The other first mover is Benjamin Raun, Head of Digitalization at Kvist & Jensen and Co-founder and COO of DigiMatcher. He has a natural interest for digital solutions that bring us closer to one another and work on helping companies map out their journey of digitalization.

But our story has another part of departure. Let’s rewind to spring 2022. Benjamin Raun, Head of Digitalization at Kvist & Jensen, receives a phone call that is going to change his outlook on data and value. Kvist & Jensen is offered to become part of a pilot project together with Spar Nord and Crediwire. A project focused on validating data and understanding the value of already accessible data.

What are the opportunities for optimizing the data - and is it even necessary? The idea is to hand the bank and accounting house a direct insight into how their workprocesses can be changed, if they are able to access their clients’ data in realtime.  At the same time, this gives the opportunity to validate whether the available data is correct or not. It sounded like an insightful learning, Benjamin thought to himself:

– We could get direct access to data that wasn’t accessible to us prior. Smart data that would help us create more value for our clients. At the same time, we saw it as a way of optimizing the partnership with our banking partners. Thomas Kristensen is part of the pilot project for Spar Nord from a bank’s perspective.

They enter the project with a curious mindset focused on the opportunities to optimize partnerships and relations.

– We had a clear expectation of getting closer to our clients to learn more about how to make our counseling more present and personal. But we were also driven by a wish to learn how to optimize and make manual work tasks more efficient, Thomas Kristensen states.

This is what initiated the project - six months of deeper insights into how we can make better decisions. Six companies already registered as clients at the accountant house and the bank, were chosen as test cases for a thorough analysis. Through the analysis challenges in the existing data were uncovered.

– Revealing the results was interesting as it led us to discover the missing pieces, Benjamin says and continues:

– We were already aware that the communication between the advisor and accountant should be flowing more smoothly. Usually, they only communicate once a year when it’s time to pass on data. When the accountant has finished the bookkeeping he might not always get to pass on the subsequent entries to the bookkeeper. Important information and vital data slips away between two central parties. The mistakes are often discovered when it’s too late - if at all. Time is a scarce resource for all of us.

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A race against time

As a scarce resource time is a constant issue. Manual processes extracts time from more important tasks - a problem both banks and accountants experience on a daily basis. Manual processes that may lead to mistakes that could have been avoided otherwise.

– There isn’t enough time and it definitely increases our workload. As a result we try to embrace the tools that can aid in optimizing our processes which hands us the resources to offer an adequate, present counseling and highlight the quality of our work, Benjamin states.

Time also plays an important role in the counseling the bank has to offer.

– Our advisors tend to be working under pressure as they must register manually due to legislation. If we are to solve this issue and give the advisors more time on their hands we need to deliver the data they need by optimizing our work processes, Thomas states and continues:

– The better we are at automating and optimizing our tasks, the better dialogue we can engage in with our clients. If we use ongoing data served in realtime, we can support the work of our advisors. This means that we can save time by collecting the data from our clients – ultimately, this will create value for them.

Clients as the center core

Participating in the pilot project with Crediwire gave both Thomas and Benjamin food for thought. If they wish to get closer to their clients it requires they follow the latest developments as well as having access to continuously updated financial data. But it also requires a deeper focus on collaboration and the pursuit to set clients first in line.

– The banks play a key role in helping the companies grow. If we get the tools to work smarter and more efficiently it will create a more solid foundation for financial experiences. It’s all about the value that we can create for our clients. The more we know about them, the closer we are aligned with them, the more value we can create, Thomas explains.

More on this story: Customer centricity - the obvious opportunity

– The clients are at the very core of our business. That means that we have to offer the best counseling and service so they can have more and better dialogue with their banks. If financial data delivered in realtime turns into a tool for dialogue, we are able to reduce the response time, and at the same time make the company stronger in the dialogue with its advisors. This will help us get closer to one another to help the companies fulfill their potential, Benjamin adds.

"We must support one another"

Experiences are something we create together - and it’s the common understanding between Spar Nord and Kvist & Jensen. But it means that the collaboration needs to function as frictions less as possible for all parties to make “value” the common denominator.

– Bank advisors acquire special knowledge and as a result they play an important role when helping companies grow. To us personal counseling is key. No automated, digital system can replace the expertise that the advisor has, but it’s able to support it. If the client feels seen and heard by us, we create value for both the client and bank, Thomas explains.

Accountants also hold a great deal of responsibility when it comes to moving businesses forward, Benjamin adds:

– Accountants should focus on creating value for their clients. This requires that the accountants hold the competencies and adequate framework to help, and we only get that by following the latest innovations, embracing and putting forward new, digital solutions and letting ourselves inspire by other industries and the way they work. Ultimately, it’s about supporting one another, Benjamin says and continues:

– It’s important to get going with this process. What value from our services are our clients looking for? If we can’t offer this, the clients will simply go elsewhere to find the advisors who offers them what they need.

“On demand” – an individual way of thinking

You have probably heard about the algorithms behind streaming services you use on a daily basis. The algorithms know your behavoir and your needs and serve you suggestions based on your browser history and likes. This is the way that counseling could work too -on demand, Benjamin states:

– If accountants continuously want to play a keyrole for companies, a raison d'être, they must be better at adapting client's needs. The whole "on demand"-thought based on specializations is quite interesting for us. The more specialized you are working in a certain field, the better. This way clients get the exact advice they need – rather than a more generic and broad counseling. I don’t think that generalists have the same place as before in our profession.

In this sense, it’s crucial that banks and accountants get to know their clients more thoroughly. Spar Nord cares deeply about offering individual and present counseling:

– As a bank we carry the responsibility of understanding our clients. If we have a tool that allows us to benchmark their business with the industry and carry out reports, we can paint a clear picture of the individual client and their financial situation, and use this information as the foundation for our counseling. Hereby we are able to create more value by staying ahead and find the right focus for the client to look out for, Thomas explains and continues:

– It’s crucial for banks to move along with the development, so we don’t become outdated. We have a sincere ambition to help companies create great results and grow stronger. The same should be the ambition for the accountants. If we dare to embrace the opportunities we have a solution designed for great value.

“Frontrunners” of collaboration

Although Kvist & Jensen and Spar Nord don’t want to boast about being "first movers" the pilot project has helped them see the opportunities of an optimized collaboration.

– Hopefully, we will inspire others to initiate a new chapter. However, entering an innovative chapter means seeing the opportunities and embracing them. Our industry tends to be stuck in the moment - sometimes the past. We use our calculators and markers - things we are already familiar with. But we need to readjust and embark the journey of new technology that allows us to do what we already do, but in a much faster and simpler manner, Thomas states.

Both parties has an ambition to get closer to their clients. They know that the closer the collaboration, the better counseling, and as a result: more value is added to all parties. But what does it take take to move even closer towards a better collaboration?

– I don’t think we will ever get to an end point. There will always be room left for optimization and improvement. A constant flow of new solutions that banks didn’t think were needed is on its way, Thomas say sand continues:

– Society keeps getting even more complex and this will merely add further demands on banks and accountants when it comes to digitalization. I believe that we have to stay curious and search for all the opportunities available to create better financial experiences for our clients.

– We must choose the digital solutions that adds value, while at the same time using data to help out specific industries throughout our counseling. To optimize the relations to our clients we must focus on reporting in an interactive and intuitive “universe”. The simpler, the better. And the more customized for the individual, the more value we create. That must be our ultimate goal, Benjamin concludes.

Looking for more interesting and foreseeing perspectives on the collaboration and importance of correct data?

Read the interview with Tuva Palm.