We hosted our first business breakfast in London, Thursday the 17th of May, in our Level39 offices. What will tomorrow’s financial deliverables look like? Will interactive tools ever replace Microsoft PowerPoint? How to answer the client’s need for more concise, dynamic reports? These are the main questions we tackled during this breakfast. It gathered professionals from KPMG, Deloitte, EY and Barclays as well as UpSlide’s CEO and CTO who gave their insights. Here are the highlights of this convivial morning around the future of finance.
“Collaboration is the main challenge”
Today, finance professionals spend countless hours building and updating reports. IMs, due diligence reports, pitch books: they are constantly running late and struggling with repetitive tasks. “My first day of work in an audit firm, I left at midnight to update a PowerPoint presentation”, painfully remembers Antoine Vettes, CEO and co-founder of UpSlide, who opened the discussions. Since that time, he dedicated his energy to find a way to help people work better. That is why he presented the UpSlide solution, that can already help finance professionals save time on the most time-consuming tasks of Microsoft Office (copy-pasting, typos, slides templates…)
This existing situation was corroborated by the panel discussion lead by Rob Jones, CEO UK of UpSlide, featuring Chin-Harn Leong, Director, Deal Advisory at KPMG and Tom Fewson, Manager, Innovation at Deloitte. “We have to evolve to a more concise report format; a more pleasant reading experience for the clients and a more efficient way for us to make our documents”, says Chin-Harn Leong.
At Deloitte, where collaboration is the main challenge according to Tom Fewson, automation is being more and more considered as a way to ensure the consistency of the message. “We need to focus on the way we work to make sure the documents we produce are interactive, with a consistent message”, shares Tom Fewson.
Looking to the future of deliverables
In light of these insights, Julien Villemonteix, CTO of UpSlide, presented UpSlide’s vision of tomorrow’s financial services deliverables. How do we move from today’s static reports to the responsive and dynamic documents that clients have come to expect?
“We have two beliefs: firstly, that PowerPoint, Excel and Word are not dead. Microsoft is still heavily investing to refine existing features and adding new ones. Secondly, we believe that Power BI will become a major player in the business intelligence market”, explains Julien.
Power BI is designed to work hand in hand with Excel to allow professionals to aggregate and manipulate data from several sources, without any need for technical expertise. Power BI dashboards are interactive, ergonomic and updated in real time. They can be shared to the clients with a simple web link in one click, and personalised to suit the level of analysis required.
— UpSlide (@Up_Slide) 17 May 2018
However, there are still some limits – such as the difficulty to add commentary or analysis, or the need for some documents like fairness opinion reports to be static. “Our target is to develop a way to include responsive and flexible visuals to slides”, describes Julien.
“That way, we would get the best of both worlds: dynamic and responsive documents that can be integrated to an entire story told on PowerPoint.” – Julien Villemonteix
The shift towards digital reports
To conclude, the panel discussion picked up where Julien left off. Chin-Harn Leong insisted on the fact that “corporate organisations are becoming more and more digital; they expect to have data available at their fingertips”.
Even if the transition from paper to digital has not been achieved yet – some clients like banks are still expecting paper reports, there is a culture shift towards digital documents. Chin-Harn Leong closes the discussion by raising the question of adoption: “The key questions to drive adoption are simple: Does it make my life easier? Is it easy to use? If the answers are yes, the deal is sealed.”
Thank you to our guests and speakers for this great first edition. We look forward to organising a second round!