This Friday March 20th, O2/Telefonica’s accelerator Wayra organizes the pre-election event ‘FinTech Innovations - Getting us to the end of the financial month’. The mobile startup HQ encourages financial awareness for independent professionals, and discusses why this is a crucial topic.
A likely situation for a self-employed person in the UK:
Freelance designer Fred invoices £2,400 per month, including £400 VAT. Things are going well. People love his work!
Oh no....! His boiler breaks in the 2nd month of the quarter, which is going to cost him £4,800.
Fred uses his hard earned cash from this quarter to pay for it.
Woohoo! By the end of the quarter, Fred should have £2,400 in his bank account from his third month earning, despite the current misfortune.
But hold on. Fred needs to pay £1,200 VAT, leaving him actually £1,200 which actually causes him to dip into his overdraft after paying for the expensive rent of his London flat.
Things are getting even worse: The last invoice is not being paid in time, keeping Fred even longer in overdraft.
"92% breached their agreed overdraft limit at least twice a year."
Sounds like an unlikely scenario...? Our accounting partner FPSS explains cashflow mismanagement is not at all an uncommon scenario for independent professionals. According to a study in 2012, two thirds (67%) of SME (incl indep. profs) depended on overdraft facilities to cover ‘cash flow gaps’ whilst a staggering 92% stated that they breached their agreed overdraft limit at least twice a year.
With an ever-growing workforce of independent professionals (750,000 increase since 2008), cashflow awareness is becoming a more prevalent issue than ever. And therefore should be a key area of attention for the upcoming 2015 UK elections.
Key cash flow influencers.
These stats show which elements could influence one’s cash flow:
- Late paid invoices increase the cash flow gap significantly. In the whole of Europe 37.7 percent of invoices are paid late, with the UK being in the top 3 of being the latest.
- The UK workforce is losing over £330m per year in unclaimed expenses.
- Many people are unaware of tax timelines. A 2013 research reveals that over two thirds (68%) of the poll’s respondents admit they don’t know the deadline for filing their self-assessment tax forms (even potentially causing a £100 fine).
"68% don’t know the deadline for filing their self-assessment tax forms."
Mobile apps encourage financial awareness.
A 2013 research in New Zealand - being one of the innovative countries in financial technology - showed that mobile access to banking has boosted people's awareness of of their financial situation (64%) and helped prevent them going into the red (23%). Moreover, it also demonstrated the rate at which mobile banking was being adopted was seven times faster than internet banking, encouraging daily exposure to one’s financial situation. This supports our own industry experience that people with mobile banking apps check their balances and transactions on average once a day, compared to once a week with internet banking.
"Mobile banking has boosted people's financial awareness."
Existing mobile apps fail.
Current mobile business finance solutions do not address financial awareness.
- Current accounting apps are complex and intimidating, scaring users away rather than inviting them. We conducted several usability tests on these apps, revealing that people were unable to sign up, had a hard time sending a simple invoice, and felt distressed after needing to enter loads of data.
- These apps are also often insecure, exposing banking details and other financials that should be protected by passcodes.
- Current solutions see the app as complementary to the desktop, rather than seeing the mobile as the central point for a mobile workforce. This often allows users to do essential tasks, such as sharing data with your accountant, from the desktop, underutilizing downtime (A UK worker spends on average 211 hours per year commuting - by the way, that’s more than month worth of work!... - , which is time that people could use to do all their finances).
"A UK worker spends on average 211 hours per year commuting. This is a full working month of downtime."
Your business on your phone.
Our belief is that everybody should be able to start, run and grow their business from a mobile phone. This will drive financial awareness and engagement, resulting better cash flow and money management. Key considerations to achieve this:
- The mobile user experience should be extremely simple.
- The user should be able to do all essential tasks from their mobile.
- The user should be reminded about important payment and tax events.
- The app should be secure by keeping all financial data behind password-protected, encrypted doors.
Our first step is to help the mobile independent freelancers stay on top of their business finances on the go in an incredibly simple way. This will help every professional to keep an eye on pending invoices, process receipts immediately, know when VAT returns are due, and keep track of their monthly cash flow.
The 2015 UK elections.
Because of it’s growing impact on the UK’s workforce, the self-employed sector should be an important consideration for the upcoming electoral campaigns and budgets for all political parties. Tax rates and financial processes could alleviate or worsen the burden on this group of voters significantly. Also, an increase in available support for starting a business, could dramatically help getting people on the entrepreneurial ladder.
Finally, current financial solutions do not suffice, and therefore the political arena should keep London as the world’s most important city in financial innovations high on its agenda.
- The Wayra event FinTech Innovations - Getting us to the end of the financial month.
- HQ - Your business on your phone.
Sign up to get the app at www.hqtheapp.com.