For cloud-based Kyriba, moving to remote work hasn’t been much of a challenge. Karli Vold, Director of Product, has been working to prioritise clients’ needs and offer the best support possible. We spoke with Karli to get her take on the recent changes in the industry today and how the pandemic has impacted finance leaders and treasury.
How COVID-19 has sharpened the focus on liquidity and client support
Could you introduce yourself please and tell us a little about your background and how you arrived at the role that you have today at Kyriba?
I am a Director of Product at Kyriba and have been in the fintech industry for almost 12 years. I began my career consulting in professional services and have held various roles, from overseeing implementations to product marketing. In my last role, the primary focus was helping clients understand and manage foreign exchange risk. At Kyriba that focus continues, but FX is part of a greater end-to-end risk management approach, allowing our clients to manage the entire lifecycle of currency risk. It is an essential component of our clients’ holistic cash and liquidity management strategies.
Prior to fintech, I worked in business and went through graduate school studying entrepreneurship. It’s interesting how that sort of background can help with growth and strategic positioning, not only in how we help our clients be more successful, but also with how we manage our products and organisation so we can be proactive and agile as we navigate in a quickly changing market.
My interest in innovation and customer satisfaction led me to product management. This role allows me to leverage my business background and relationship with clients to help guide our product roadmap and development. It is Product’s responsibility to ensure we are building the right technology to assist our clients to more easily solve their everyday treasury challenges.
Looking back over your career to date, how have you seen your space in the industry evolve?
The biggest change that I’ve seen over the last decade is practitioners moving from asking, ‘why should I use technology?’ to ‘how can I modernise my processes using the technology?’
It’s about more than automation, CFOs and treasurers are demanding the ability to access real-time data with precision, including visibility and controls. I think the evolution of technology has helped with that, but it also has to do with the approach that treasury organisations are taking from a strategic perspective. They are proving to be a much more valuable asset to the organisation when they are consulting with and providing better information to the CFO. Treasury is definitely becoming more sophisticated and there is a much stronger desire to own and drive processes to lead continuous improvements across organisations.
Not only that, it has become less acceptable for organisations to make delayed decisions with incomplete or inaccurate data. For example, there has been an industry trend to move to immediate precision in cash forecasting. The fact that technology gives everyone access to a significant amount of quality information in real time, means there is little excuse for ill-informed projections or decisions any longer. CFOs and boards are expecting more from their teams. Our technology allows practitioners to better understand their cash conversion cycles and FX exposure to enable better decisions, market standards I expect to continue well into the future.
How have the last few months with the pandemic affected your work and your clients?
As a cloud-based company, Kyriba was able to quickly move our workforce completely online and remotely. We had the security and the infrastructure in place and we had the people and the processes to make the change practically overnight.
Over the last few months we’ve tailored the entire organisation to prioritise our clients’ needs, providing additional training, improving the quality of our operations and breadth of product offerings. It’s been great to be able to pivot to ensure that we are providing the best support that we can to our clients. I think part of that is, of course, having the necessary technology in place to be able to do that very quickly. Although that’s important all the time, when we’re going through a time of crisis like we are now it becomes even more critical.
From an FX side we’ve seen incredible volatility over the last couple of months. Talking with our clients, many of their exposures have increased too. Interestingly enough, there are opportunities that come with volatility. With the current interest rates, some organisations have modified their hedging programmes to create significant positive returns. It is a bit of a silver lining for organisations who, in other ways, may be struggling.
For us, volatility means the importance and value of cloud-based technology increases. More people are reaching out to talk about how to leverage our platform when their manual processes are failing. What they could get by with before isn’t sustainable with everyone trying to work remotely. From a product perspective, it is rewarding knowing we provide something that is truly helpful, given everything that’s happening in the market.
Is there any advice that you can offer the community as they make their own plans and try to face whatever challenges there may be as we roll out the rest of 2020?
Volatility is obviously going to continue. We can’t predict how long it will last at this level, so it is important for organisations to empower people and put processes in place to handle the unknown, allowing them to be proactive and agile to deal with the changes that are coming from a near and long-term perspective.
And it’s no secret there’s been a significant increase in cybercrime in the current environment, so tightening up your security processes and utilising technology to be able to better manage processes and roles with proper approvals is critical. Treasury teams working remotely need to use best practices to ensure they are not increasing exposure to payments fraud.
Emailing critical data, having a single point of payment approval, or no ability to screen payments, put companies at risk. And it’s not just the screening, but the fact that you are screening against what is supposed to be happening that matters. Anything that an organisation can do on that side can actually save millions in fraud-related losses.
Not only that, continuing to think about leadership and collaboration within the organisation and how different areas can help each other will allow companies to more comfortably weather this storm. Treasury, payments, procurement, FP&A; working together with the CFO’s leadership should produce more value to the organisation. Although the natural tendency may be to focus efforts on our own daily activities, working together to look for improvements cross-functionally will likely bring about better results than you may be able to deliver on our own.
Finally, consider your vendors as partners, let us help you leverage technology to get through this and future crises that will inevitably happen. We can work together to understand your goals and help move your organisation from a mentality of fear and reactiveness to one of empowerment, knowing that you have the information and ability to make decisions to help your CFO be successful and your company to persevere through difficult times.
Can you share a strong personal or professional inspiration that you draw strength from in your career?
What motivates me personally is the opportunity to be able to help people, it’s the philanthropic side of business. Our technology allows organisations to cut costs, generate revenue and create operational efficiencies. This allows our clients to do their jobs better and frees up time and capital for executing strategic missions.
Most of the organisations that we work with around the globe are dedicated to improving the lives of others in one way or another. By helping them grow and protect their cash we help organisations improve their bottom line, allowing them to expand their workforce and investments in local economies. In addition to generating revenue it’s about being able to help companies give back to build a better future together.