From XU Magazine, 
Issue 33

How Sharesies automated their approvals process & EOFY audits

Learn how investment platform Sharesies uses automation to streamline their approval process and augment their cloud accounting tech stack.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Who are Sharesies and what do they do?

If you live in Australasia, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of New Zealand investment platform, Sharesies. Their fintech innovation makes it easy for New Zealand and Australian investors to buy and sell shares in companies and funds across New Zealand, Australia, and the US.

Their vision: 

To give someone with $5 and someone with $5 million the same investment opportunities. 

Their inspiration: 

“We want to nurture and grow people’s finance and investing knowledge. And not just around investing – all things money.”

Sharesies are paving the way for accessible investment across New Zealand and Australia. Users also have access to a wealth of podcasts, webinars, and written content, which helps create an engaged user community that is in control of their own learning. Through their platform and product offering, Sharesies have developed a stand-out business strategy that’s set to see them grow from strength to strength.

Where does approval automation come into it? 

Business growth is an important part of Sharesies’ story and they needed to have airtight finance management systems in place that would scale with them as they grew. Any solution they adopted into their tech stack needed to allow them to “Chase Remarkable” – one of their company values. Hannah Korner, Corporate Accountant at Sharesies, is big on using approval automation to support their finance function and shares how ApprovalMax helps them focus on their business goals. 

Why Sharesies adopted approval automation 

Before automating their process, email-based approvals had worked fairly well for Sharesies. At that stage, they were still small – processing around 300-400 invoices per year. It was manageable, although not without inherent inefficiencies. To keep up with their growth, the team knew they needed a solution that would scale with them no matter how big they got.

“Within the finance team, we’re focused on being agile and delivering a self-service support function that brings value to the business. The tools and solutions that we use need to help us bring that value to the company efficiently and effectively.” says Hannah.

When the Sharesies team adopted ApprovalMax, they saw the value right away. With user experience and efficiencies at the top of their requirements list, Hannah was thrilled to find that ApprovalMax was easy to implement and that their approval matrix would easily grow and adapt with the business. With automated approvals, Sharesies can quickly and easily process everything from their software subscriptions, and daily business expenses, to office supplies and fixed-asset invoices. 

How Sharesies’ approval processes have changed thanks to ApprovalMax 

“ApprovalMax is really easy to set up and use. That user friendliness was a huge part of the appeal. We could see the value right away and haven’t looked back.” says Hannah. 

When it came to adopting automation, Sharesies were looking for a tool that answered all their AP processing needs, while also bringing sleek design and a native Xero integration. 

They needed a tool that would: 

  • Give decision-makers access to all the relevant documents and details 
  • Streamline and automate the audit reporting process to be more efficient and accurate 
  • Save time and manual effort throughout the entire financial year 
  • Be scalable and able to handle the huge increase in invoices that comes with significant growth.

Not only has the Sharesies team grown since 2017, they also process many more financial documents each month. In fact, in any given month they process over 300 invoices just within the New Zealand arm of their company – that’s around 12 times more invoices processed per month since they adopted automation! 

How invoice management and audits have changed for Sharesies since adopting automation

Processing time and total documents processed aren’t the only numbers that Sharesies have been able to improve. 

When it comes to the end of the financial year and preparing for the year ahead, it’s understandable that many finance professionals and business owners alike feel a sense of trepidation. EOFY could be a mammoth task. But not with their automated approval matrix in place. 

“We use Xero and have fully audited accounts so at the end of the year, approval audit trails help to make that process really easy for the auditors and for us.” says Hannah.
The Sharesies Team

At the end of the day, email-based approvals wouldn’t help the company grow and scale, and that meant change was essential. But financial services within the investment space are so heavily regulated that any new tools needed to simplify the audit process, ensure compliance, and make the process low-impact for everyone. Without automated approvals and features like audit trail reports or approval history, Sharesies would need an entire team to manage the AP process. Instead, approvals and audits are efficient and effective, and they all tick over in the background.

Automated approvals and tracking the movement of their financial documents helps Hannah and her team to stick to their goals. When it comes to the end of the financial year, automated audit trails make the process so simple that Hannah is able to focus on high-value tasks like budgeting and forecasting for the year ahead, and finding efficiencies elsewhere in the company. 

How Sharesies use ApprovalMax and their app-stack to scale their business 

To get their finance function in a position to achieve their goals, Hannah and the rest of the team carefully selected just a handful of cloud-based accounting tools. 

  1. ApprovalMax – When it comes to approval automation software, there are no local options that could meet all of Sharesies’ needs. However, they quickly found ApprovalMax and were blown away by the value the tool was able to bring to the finance team and wider business. ApprovalMax’s native and seamless integrations with Xero mean that Sharesies’ tech stack works as one complete tool, helping them save time and money while focusing on the big-ticket items.
  2. Xero – It’s important to Sharesies to support local businesses, so to have one of the best cloud-accounting platforms meant it was an easy decision for them to adopt the tool. Beyond that, user experience and functionality are critical elements in enabling Sharesies to grow – Xero’s outstanding product and service help Sharesies to keep striving for their goals.
  3. Spotlight Reporting – Sharesies consolidation and reporting tool of choice is another New Zealand-born accounting tool, Spotlight Reporting. With detailed reports, Hannah and the finance team can double down on their learnings and bring added value to the company by delivering insights, efficiencies, and forecasting – all important elements in preparing for the new financial year.

The wrap-up

It’s important to Hannah and the rest of the team at Sharesies that the tools they use help them to bring added value to the company and scale as a business. 

“It’s within our values to chase remarkable and to be a bit different – to not follow the status quo like a typical finance function. To build on that, we want to use tools that automate boring processes and make those processes much easier and more efficient. By automating invoice approvals, it frees us up to be valuable to the business through analysis and improvements.” says Hannah.

Watch our webinar to learn how Sharesies’ tech stack enables them to scale.

Featuring Hannah Korner from Sharsies, Kylie Wing from ApprovalMax, and Danelle Whaanga from Spotlight Reporting.

Why leave it there?

To find out more about ApprovalMax

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