We managed to catch up with Helen Cockle about her role as Futrli's Chief Operating Officer, and the future she sees for the company.
Explain your role within Futrli and your journey within the company.
I am Futrli’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). As the COO, I’m responsible for overseeing the running of day-to-day operations at Futrli.
I have to be heavily involved in developing and implementing our long-term strategies, improving
processes and systems to ensure that Futrli operates as effectively as possible.
I joined the team in 2015 to evolve and develop our strategy. During this time I helped grow our presence in the UK and Australia markets which involved travelling to Australia three times a year. It
was an incredibly busy time with many an early morning and late night. Since then, we established
our amazing customer success team, and launched our Futrli Academy to better support our client base. Since the Sage acquisition last year, I hired our superb marketing team.
Talk us through an overview of Futrli’s mission and aims.
At Futrli, we are dedicated to developing our platform to increase the success rate of small
businesses globally. It’s really as simple as that. I feel like this mission is particularly important in 2023 as we can see so many small businesses struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising costs.
What sets Futrli apart from other reporting and forecasting software?
The Sage acquisition of Futrli was transformational, enabling us to speed up the delivery of advanced
features that we know are critical to our accounting partners. We want Futrli to be the Advisory
Platform for accounting firms. This means we have to go beyond having the most accurate forecasting engine in the ecosystem and beautiful drag and drop reporting functionality – we have to surface insights to accountants within their workflows.
Advisory shouldn’t be a stand-alone offering, it all starts with compliance and by ensuring we deliver the right information to our firms within those compliance workflows, the compliance conversation easily becomes one of advisory.
What’s more, our platform now does so much more than forecasting and reporting. It truly unlocks the advisory potential for our accountant clients and is a simple solution for small businesses. Once synced to ledgers, it becomes easy for accountants to offer value-adding advisory services to clients.
Users can create dashboards and reports in minutes through our drag and drop reporting, perform
variance analysis extremely quickly through our budgets and scenarios and – of course – our cash flow forecasting remains the most incisive on the market through our application of indirect and direct forecasting forecasts.
It has been such a difficult period for businesses. I feel our role to support experts who help small
businesses navigate these challenges (accountants) has never been so critical. We all have the same mission and I truly believe that our understanding of an accountant’s workflow is what has enabled us to create the best platform for advisory.
Futrli was recently acquired by Sage, how has the acquisition accelerated plans and what does joining the Sage family mean to you?
For me, it is just so exciting to see all the plans that we have had for years, all the ideas and innovations that we put on hold because our team was too small and our resources too few, suddenly come to life.
Marketing is a great example. Incredibly, beyond attending events like Xerocon & Accountex prior to the Sage acquisition we didn’t have the budget for marketing. We relied on our product capabilities to drive advocacy within the market and spread the word. Now – while it worked incredibly well – having the ability to hire a team of experts, and use the vast knowledge within Sage has enabled profound change. We now have the budget to perform marketing campaigns that go far beyond events and emails. This means we can scale the awareness of the advisory technology available to all
Sage have really let us run with our plans and vision. Our feature releases are coming thick and fast. Since the acquisition, we have overhauled our platform, created an intelligent user-friendly, Canva-esque, drag and drop reporting feature, and released a brand-new website.
Over the next few months, we have some exciting new feature releases including scheduled reports, budgets & scenarios, and consolidations.
We’re here for the long run.
2023 has been a year of positive changes, updates, and new releases. Are there any new features lined up for Futrli this year?
We are delighted to announce the release of our ‘budgets and scenarios’ feature. This is really going to open the potential to perform variance analysis quickly and easily. Users can create budgets in platform alongside multiple scenarios and forecasts to see how clients’ business goals are progressing against their expectations.
We are also releasing ‘scheduled reporting’ to sit within our reporting feature. Soon reports will be set to automatically send whenever users need them. Once a user has designed a report that suits their needs, they can set subsequent reports to send in the same style. We have also included a review phase into these scheduled reports, so Futrli users can have a glance to check everything is in order before passing it over to stakeholders. So yes… You can fire off CFO standard reports while enjoying happy hour. We’re cancelling end-of-the-month-reporting-blues.
As part of our ‘consolidations’ release, users will be able to combine different sections or regions of a business into one data set. This means users can get a consolidated view of an entire business’ operations. What once took multiple sheets in Excel and heaps of formulae to consolidate, can now be visualised at the touch of a button.
Many accountants, bookkeepers and business owners use Futrli globally, how important is it for Futrli to be a worldwide organisation?
Our global identity is crucial to Futrli, we have always been an internationally connected organisation. From our launch in Australia way back in 2014 to joining the Sage family last year, our reach has always been international.
During the height of the international restrictions of Covid-19, it was technology that helped bridge the gap between communities, businesses, and networks. To me, this served as a reminder of the importance of technology to our global connections.
We have Futrli users that use our platform to support clients who are totally geographically distanced. Without the need to use our platform through face-to-face interaction, our most successful Futrli users think beyond the scope of their local networks and perform advisory for clients across a broad geographical area.
We at XU have an exciting number of events ahead of us this year - will Futrli be attending any?
Definitely! We are delighted to be joining XU on 7 th March for a webinar with our good friends from Brearley and Co, a South Yorkshire-based firm, to discuss how they’ve empowered their clients to make the best business decisions to achieve their potential.
Tell us about an experience/project that makes you proud to be a part of Futrli.
I am proud of everything we have achieved in our Advice team, which helps support accountants
and small businesses. It highlights that we are more than just an advisory software. It shows that we understand the challenges accountants face when growing advisory services. Our ACA team of qualified accountants positively impact firms and establishes processes that set them up for success.
The team are also invaluable to our product development as their experience directly feed into our
Futrli Academy offers a wide range of support to accounting firms, talk us through the importance of this service.
Futrli Academy is a unique service designed to support both small businesses and accounting firms.
For business owners, we work with them to make their business goals a reality through tailored
advisory services. Our team of qualified accountants guide business owners to make strategic decisions informed by Futrli.
For accountants, we enrol them on our structured programme and create measurable goals to be achieved through practical advisory activities. This programme is designed to sit comfortably within the busy world of the accountant and helps users learn methods to execute advisory services that are scalable and appropriate for each firm.
How do you see Futrli progressing in the near future?
We will continue to focus on delivering the ultimate advisory platform delivering powerful insights to Accountants.
Talk us through an example of how Futrli can change the lives of those who use it.
I was talking to one of our accountant users about this recently. They have a client, a family-run business, who make and install solar panels. This client had been making £200,000 a year in profit, the following year they had doubled their turnover but their profit had dropped to £150,000. They were overworked, seriously concerned about their business, and their margins were starting to freefall. If they carried on the way they were going they would go out of business. Their accountant stepped in and, using Futrli, was able to help put them back in control of their business. At a glance through Futrli they could see instant issues. For example, their debtor days growing, their pricing
was off, and they had some serious issues with their margins.
Their accountant was able to get them back on track and could back their assessment of the
situation with impactful visuals from Futrli. They also used Futrli to integrate non-financial data
within their client’s strategies. Through this, the client was able to reassess how they followed their Leads.
Now they’re heading in the right direction. Instead of working incredibly long hours and at risk of losing their business, they are back in control. They work reasonable hours, they’re working better as a business, and the pressure has been taken off the family. What could have been a sad end to a once-successful business was just a blip. Through Futrli they made the right business decisions to stay in the game and become successful once more.