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itsettled Christmas Message 2021 & Trend Predictions for 2022

Our 2021 Round-up and 2022 trend predictions.

As the year draws to a close, we wanted to update you briefly on what’s happened this year at itsettled. Our team has grown massively, and we have also collaborated with numerous partners within the FinTech space to help SMEs thrive in the new economic climate. We rounded off the year as a Finalist in the Tech for Good competition and the winner of a TechNation’s Rising Star Award in the South West Region - two things we’re very proud of. 

We launched our partnership strategy, and showcased collaboration with Swoop, Nimbla, TomatoPay, ClearFactor, LightbulbCredit, Airpa & CircleLoop. 

We’re now looking ahead to 2022, which leads us to our C-Suite’s predictions for the financial sector and the fintech space in the upcoming year. 

‘Trends for 2022 in the Financial and Business Sector’ by our CEO, Glen Morgan (FCICM). 

2022 looks set to be an exciting but potentially difficult year for the financial and business sectors in the UK as well as globally. 

More businesses will look for alternative finance and loan options as they struggle to pay back their BBILs and CBILs. According to UK Finance, as of February 2021 the industry had provided £73bn in support to 1.6 million businesses through the UK government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

For a lot of businesses, this money has now been spent and they need to start paying it back at a time where there are huge cashflow pressures for a variety of reasons.

All businesses will need to do everything within their power to improve their cashflow position including credit checking customers, effectively chasing in payment for invoices, and ensuring that they are fully aware of their options regarding additional lending to boost their working capital.

I expect automation and outsourcing to be key to a SMEs chances of success if they don’t have the in-house expertise to carry out these vital business functions.

Unfortunately I believe we will also see a rise in SMEs entering Insolvency - with worries about the Omicron variant adding to the long list of business pressures. It will be survival of the fittest and those that have control of their cashflow are far more likely to survive and thrive in 2022.

For those who maintain a positive cashflow position there will be opportunities to expand, possibly at the expense of competitors who have not been as robust in their approach.

There are many positives on the horizon for the financial and business sectors. I believe that 2022 will contain further digital innovation and we will see more banks and financial service providers move to new innovative technologies and a variety of financial products on offer for businesses that have proved they are secure.

Overall, I believe 2022 will see growth for businesses that manage their cashflow effectively and I predict that there will be a huge growth of new technologies for businesses and the financial services sector that will help them on the path to recovery and then help them to accelerate their business. We look forward to helping SMEs thrive in the new year. 

‘Trends for the FinTech space in 2022’ by our COO, Jonathan Wingrove

My predictions for the FinTech ecosystem in 2022 can be summed up by these four words… Collaboration. Partnership. Acquisition (and a little) Consolidation.

Is this the year of embedded tech partnerships? In my opinion, Tech will need to work together to solve the underlying systemic problems that face UK SMEs. In this unsettled time (excuse the tenuous link) I think we’ll see investment from existing brands into early stage startups with paid POC’s and joint marketing efforts in order to expand their own offerings, and to aid business recovery. FinTech Scaleups will need to harness and nurture existing customers to ensure these businesses survive. Acquiring new customers will be a hard fought battle.

I think we’ll see a land grab between some accountancy software companies to acquire tech solutions and consume IP and customers. I think Sage with GoProposal has set the tone for the coming year.

We’ve recently seen Fluidly acquired by the challenger bank OakNorth and I predict we’ll continue to see further agile Neo Banks and FinTechs outpace the larger banks with their digital offerings and acquisitions.

I think there will be some losses as investors turn the screws on Scaleups whose model or valuation is based solely on customer or license numbers rather than revenue. The big banks aren’t immune either and we’ll see product closures and restructures there too.

I suppose I can’t not mention Open Banking, but will it have the promised impact in 2022? I’m still undecided. Obviously the tech is almost there and some regulatory changes have opened the door further, but more use cases are needed to grow adoption, so I look forward to seeing this continue to move at pace. Some consolidation here too?

Not a prediction per se, but I also hope to see further discussion around mental health in the workplace, with businesses continuing to champion better working lives for staff and customers'. It’ll be interesting to see Tech’s further involvement in the changing work/life landscape in 2022.

Have a great Christmas break and we look forward to working with you in 2022.

‘Trends for SMEs in 2022’ by our CCO David Beer 

The world is a far cry from what it was two years ago. You now have so many interconnecting pressures to navigate and rules are constantly changing. What we have been calling the perfect storm. 

2020 made us rethink what we valued in life and what value we now place on life. Over the past two years, this has only grown stronger. This includes where we live, work, how we socialise, and where we spend our money. Mental health, the environment, diversity & inclusion, and work-life balance need to be part of every business strategy. So many business owners struggle with this and if they don't get this right they will struggle to attract employees, customers, partners, and suppliers. Shared values and vision are very important. This  puts increased pressure on businesses that may already be in a vulnerable situation.

Business systems, processes, technology, and digital adaptation have been massive during this time and this will continue to grow. Businesses sometimes adopt systems they think are cool or en vogue, but in reality these systems are taking them away from running the business and generating revenue. They need to think about what value this is adding and if it is really making the business accelerate in the right direction. Their customers want slick, easy, enjoyable customer experiences, light touch journeys, and instant access. This has seen many businesses totally transform the way they trade and will continue to trade. What's important is that they still keep their customer at the heart of their evolution. Often businesses will adapt too far or lose sight of what the customers really want. 

Access to funding, winning new contracts, and improved cashflow will be vital to trade through next year. Running a business is simple, isn't it? Money in, Money out, and Money left over. With Brexit and the pandemic, we have seen rising material costs, labour challenges, commodity price increases, and a lack of funding options for businesses that need money today. If you don't review your margins and your pricing structure you could be now working for free. You may not meet the new credit terms that banks and suppliers want you to meet. There is a direct correlation between improving cashflow, reducing your outstanding debt, and accessing products and services via credit terms. The stronger the position you are in the more preferable rates you are likely to get and the better control you will have over your financial future. There is a scary historic trend that 75% of businesses fail in a growth market because they run out of money. 

Finally, no business operates in isolation and you need a strong partnership ecosystem. It's working with other businesses that complement and enhance your offering. This is becoming vital as you can't be everything to everybody. Ensure that you fully understand what you do well, be honest about your limitations, know where you want to get to, and find partners and suppliers who can help you accelerate your growth. 

I am predicting that we will all have a positive 2022. Focus is needed to stay alert next year as we sail through the perfect storm. Cashflow will always be king so focus on your money and make sure it's in your bank account, not someone else's. Have a wonderful festive period with your families - switch off and rest up for 2022.

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