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Since its founding in 2009, Ebury has grown to become one of the largest fintechs worldwide. Ebury provides foreign exchange solutions to SMEs globally with 24 offices across North America, LATAM, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific. They have helped countless businesses expand internationally by easing the barriers in foreign exchange.
In 2019, Ebury acquired Frontierpay, a payroll payments provider that automates international payments for SMEs. What was already a complex fintech business, regulated in 20+ markets, became even more complicated with the acquisition. For instance, Frontierpay’s P&L and business drivers were different to Ebury’s, so data had to be manually cleaned and transformed before it could be consolidated.
For the number of offices it served and the complexity of its data, the task of extracting information, preparing the financial models and consolidating P&Ls for each market fell on two members of the finance team: Ana Muñoz, Head of Corporate Finance, and Maria Lapucci, Corporate Finance Manager. Every month, Ana and Maria took data from their ERP, Business Intelligence tools, and custom spreadsheets to prepare consolidated P&L statements to send to the Country Managers of each market. This process took approximately 11 days to complete.
"The data and the processes are quite complicated and we spend a lot of time just trying to make sense of what we have in front of us. With Frontierpay, this process became even more demanding with the same limited resources."
Ana Muñoz, Head of Corporate Finance
For Ana and Maria, the process of updating and preparing data for these 24 markets was time-consuming and non value-adding. They faced three big challenges:
Challenge 1: Extracting Data and Segregating by Market
Ebury uses Netsuite for their ERP, Looker for Business Intelligence (BI) and a number of other Excel files to manage business data. To update the models, Ana and Maria had to extract data from each system and separate it by country.
However, the process was not simple. Ebury manages some countries by region where, for example, one region could comprise five countries. This means that data in Netsuite and Looker, which are consolidated by region, needs to be split to country level. This task was very manual and took a lot of time to review and check whether data was correctly classified to the correct country.
Challenge 2: Transforming Data to Fit Financial Models
Another big monthly task was cleaning the data to fit the financial models. Data from Netsuite, Looker and Excel files could not simply be plugged into the models, even after separating them by country. Data in the systems were set up differently and needed to be transformed if it was to be modeled correctly.
Another problem with the raw data: because of Ebury’s hyper growth and local regulatory requirements, the countries often have different mappings and reporting KPIs. For example, the financials are set up differently in the United Kingdom versus in Singapore. Thus, Ana and Maria had to make manual data adjustments in order to comply with reporting requirements for each country.
Challenge 3: Consolidation of Ebury and Frontierpay P&Ls
The final challenge was unifying and consolidating Frontierpay’s P&L with Ebury’s P&L. Even with the acquisition, Frontierpay was managed separately, which meant that the P&L preparation was done independently. However, for business planning, the two P&Ls needed to be combined by country so that the Country Managers and the Senior Leadership team had a full picture of their performance.
As with the other challenges they faced, Frontierpay’s P&L did not 100% match Ebury’s so in order to consolidate it, manual adjustments and transformations needed to be made prior to combining both into the same P&L.
Financial Planning Automation with Abacum
Ana and Maria were pressed to find an FP&A software as an automation solution that could handle the complexity of a regulated fintech with a fast-growing global footprint. How did Abacum provide the solution?
> Automated Data Extraction
Abacum’s robust system integrations made it easy to link Ebury’s Netsuite, Looker and Excel files for quick data extraction. Rather than extracting the data into more Excel files, it was pulled and stored in Abacum’s multidimensional and high-performance database, where it could be accessed easily. Abacum became Ebury’s Single Source of Truth for management accounts.
> Built-In Data Transformation
With the assistance of Abacum’s FP&A Operations team, the data transformation process was built into Ebury’s platform so that the division of data by country, data cleaning and manual adjustments were automated end-to-end. Abacum’s tagging and mapping capabilities made it easy to prepare data for analysis at the most granular level, whether that’s by region, country, cost center, or even growth initiative.
> Migration of Models from Excel to the Abacum Platform
Ebury’s financial models were built in Excel, which meant managing 30+ spreadsheets - one for each market, plus additional documents for consolidated and management reporting. Abacum’s flexible modeling enabled Ana and Maria to manage data all in one platform removing error-prone spreadsheet-based workflows.
> Automated Consolidation of P&Ls
Following the data mapping of Frontierpay’s P&L data to Ebury’s P&L, the FP&A Operations team was again able to build the process into the system so that the consolidation of financials was automated. Once Frontierpay’s P&L was uploaded into Abacum’s platform, it could be joined into Ebury’s without having to manually attribute line items.
With the end-to-end automation of Ebury’s manual tasks, the time it took for Ana and Maria to have analysis-ready financials decreased from 8 days to 1 day and the probability of error went down to 0. Time saved that they now use to focus on value-driving insights for top management.
Collaboration: Finance as a Strategic Business Partner
Another benefit of adopting Abacum's FP&A software was the ability to collaborate better with the 24 Country Managers and other business leaders in the organization. The previous process required Maria to export the financials into an Excel or PDF file and send it individually to each Country Manager by email - a process that was also manual and took a lot of time and coordination.
Ebury started to build a dedicated space for each Country Manager and relevant business leaders to prompt discussions about Corporate Performance and Planning through comments and narrative inside the space. Ana and Maria’s objective was to drive each Country Manager to work on the actuals vs. budgets directly on the Abacum platform.
For Maria, Abacum was game-changing:
"Having a platform that eases the work and collaboration with business partners really made a difference with our stakeholders. By speeding up our conversations and updates of actuals, we can really optimize the work Ana and I do."
Maria Lapucci, Corporate Finance Manager
Abacum's FP&A software empowers Ebury’s Finance team to become a strategic business partner through the platform’s user-friendly spaces. Through an easy-to-use notebook, it makes engagement with non-finance colleagues more accessible and creates a collaborative experience with the Finance team.
Ebury’s complex financial data preparation was a challenge for Ana and Maria but Abacum was able to turn that into an opportunity for them to be better value-drivers. If you also have a complex FP&A workflow that you want to automate, visit our website or contact email@example.com to book a demo.