Industry insider: Sit down with Novuna’s James Burr

Meet James Burr, Head of Change at Novuna Business Cash Flow. Below, James discusses how Novuna reduced their onboarding process from days to minutes with Codat, resulting in quicker decisioning and increased new business.

Tell us a bit about the businesses that you serve

Novuna offers fast, flexible cash flow finance solutions to SMBs and larger corporates across a wide range of sectors, allowing businesses to release cash from unpaid invoices within 24 hours.

We serve small to medium-sized businesses, encompassing everything from small start-ups to larger enterprises. They come to us when they require support with cash flow, which can be achieved through invoice factoring or other cash flow solutions. Our services include finance, credit protection against bad debt, and debt collection services where our team helps to collect their debt on their behalf.

Could you tell us about your role at Novuna?

I’m responsible for ensuring that our technologies can support our business effectively, both now and in the future. My focus is on delivering an exceptional client experience that’s facilitated by a digital-first approach. 

Invoice finance can be a complex product to manage for our clients, with many touch points and administrative tasks that come with funding dynamic businesses that are constantly evolving. We’re committed to reducing the manual administrative burden we place on our clients by providing them with a facility that simplifies the process. 

We have made significant progress in digitizing large parts of our business, and our goal for the next 12 months is to integrate these elements into a single, seamless experience for our clients.

What challenges were you facing before Codat, and what led you to seek a solution?

We noticed that the process of onboarding clients was taking a considerable amount of time. This was because it required businesses to provide a lot of information, such as their accounts, customer details, bank statements, and other relevant data. The information was primarily shared via email attachments, which often caused confusion and led to missing information, resulting in weeks of effort to gather all the required data. As a result, we couldn’t make quick decisions, which resulted in a poor client experience. 

We saw an opportunity to be more competitive in the market and become a more appealing provider by speeding up decision times and providing cash to our clients when they needed it instead of taking weeks or even months to do so. 

This was crucial because the longer it took to onboard a client, the less likely they were to need our services. Often, by the time we were done with the process, the cash flow issues they had experienced had already been resolved. We found that if we took too long, the client would go to an alternative provider that was much quicker.

Overall, we observed a decrease in conversion rates in our onboarding process.

What was your underwriting process like before you started to use Codat?

We used to have a really manual process before we started using Codat. It involved gathering lots of attachments and analyzing them, and these attachments were often different for every client. This inconsistency made it challenging to make decisions efficiently. It took a lot of time to gather and analyze the data, and decision-making was not always consistent. 

Now, we have a much better experience and are driving consistency. This has resulted in better value, quicker turnaround times, and more efficient work. We’re seeing a much nicer colleague experience with less pressure and better relationships with prospects and clients. It has contributed to shorter onboarding times and increased productivity.

What does your underwriting process look like now?

At Novuna, our people are at the forefront of our client interactions. We value the human touch but understand the importance of supporting it with leading digital tools for a seamless client experience.

When a sales colleague identifies a potential client, we leverage our onboarding platform to send a branded email which includes the Codat connector. Clients then share their accounting and banking information through this link, and once synchronized, the data from Codat populates our credit application fields in Salesforce directly.

This eliminates the manual data entry burden for our sales team, ensuring a swift decisioning process. The salesperson can then independently approve the application or escalate it to our credit risk team for a thorough assessment. 

Once a client is approved, Codat continues to play a vital role behind the scenes.

Monitoring client performance is crucial, and Codat provides real-time insights, replacing the previous quarterly checks, which were probably 30-45 days out of date with a daily overview reflective of real-time performance. 

Offering invoice financing services comes with some distinct risks. For example, the customers of a funded business may continue to pay into the bank account of our client rather than directly to us. To prevent this from happening, we use Codat to access our customers’ banking data. It helps us ensure that our clients aren’t receiving misdirected funds by flagging discrepancies in client bank accounts. This was once a manual and laborious task that is now seamlessly integrated into our daily operations.

Codat has not only streamlined our underwriting but has significantly enhanced our risk management and client monitoring processes, transforming how we operate and reducing potential gaps in critical risk areas.

How has Codat improved your business?

Codat has significantly reduced the time it takes for us to onboard a new client. Instead of taking days or weeks, we are now able to accomplish this within minutes. This has led to a quicker turnaround time for decision-making and a more efficient onboarding process. We have also seen an increase in new business as a result.

Previously, our salespeople would spend anywhere from 1-2 hours analyzing and inputting data into our credit application. Now, this process takes just a few seconds.

The partnership with Codat has absolutely made us more competitive. We now have one of the strongest software stacks out there. We don’t think our competitors can offer decisions as quickly and consistently as we can.

How does Codat compare to alternative solutions?

In our quest for a solution to streamline manual data collection and analysis, we explored various tools, but we found that many were designed for specific niches like accounting, auditing. We encountered challenges with these tools – many were inflexible and required extensive IT and tech expertise to be integrated into other platforms.

What set Codat apart was its flexibility. It seamlessly integrates into diverse platforms with minimal IT and tech resources, making it a low-code solution. 

Crucially, a standout feature was its user experience. Unlike other tools, Codat offered an intuitive interface and design, making it accessible to everyone, regardless of tech proficiency.

Our team were able to benefit from Codat’s capabilities from day one.

Even before building to the API, users found value in Codat, retrieving essential data and making informed decisions without the need for intricate training. This experience made the investment case really attractive.

How do you think the business lending market will evolve?

The business lending market is shifting towards a more flexible approach. Instead of offering specific products like invoice finance or loans, lenders will focus on providing a general cash flow or lending product that best suits the client’s needs. The client won’t need to know how their money is secured as long as they receive the cash flow they need to support their business.

Small businesses often lack access to professional guidance and advice due to budget constraints. However, with tools like Codat, lenders can access a wealth of information about the client’s business. This information can then be used to provide valuable guidance and insights, enhancing the lending product offered. The end result is a better product that puts money into the client’s business while adding additional value on top of it.

What’s next for Novuna?

As we head into the new year, we’re planning to introduce some new cash flow services and lending products. Although we have been primarily focused on invoice financing, we are looking to diversify our offerings. 

We will continue to have a strong focus on the invoice financing sector, but we aim to expand our services to support more small businesses. Some of the new products will involve lending money, while others will be more service-based.

Make smarter, faster credit decisions like Novuna

Get in touch with one of Codat’s data experts using the form below, and learn how our business data APIs can transform your lending platform.