How tech firms can present themselves more effectively to FIs
Lessons in presenting your tech solution to corporates
LFollowing a project undertaken by KPMG Matchi and KPMG Nigeria, sourcing potential fintech solutions for a large financial institution, we spoke to Yusuf Sheriff, Senior Associate at KPMG Nigeria, about lessons for tech providers. He talked us through some tips and advice for solutions providers looking to attract interest from large corporates:
Yusuf notes that one of the hardest things for technology companies to get right when presenting their solutions to corporates is to speak about their offerings in an accessible way. It’s tricky to explain the solution without getting very technical, but he advises focusing on showing that the solution is fit for purpose. “Instead of focusing on how your solution does what it does, focus on what is does – that’s what will interest businesses,” he suggests.
Another common mistake is not showcasing a version of the solution being presented, but rather relying on screenshots, photos and descriptions of the solution. “Clients question the capabilities if they can’t see them demonstrated,” Yusuf says. “Even if you have something that’s out-of-the-box – not necessarily something you’d deploy for that specific client – try to have something that’s interactive in its essence.”
Many clients may not necessarily know upfront exactly what they want, which can make things difficult for technology providers. Yusuf says it’s important to help a client understand the effort it will take to implement the solution being showcased. “Clients want to know what to expect. For example, you might say, ‘My solution has 10 features. They come in different combinations. To implement this combination, it will probably take six months, but if you want these additional features, it might take nine months.’ I know it’s tricky, because many solutions will require integrations and there might be factors that are unique to the environment, but it’s not impossible to give a ballpark figure in terms of the effort required in cost and time.”
Yusuf suggests thinking about indicators to assist in planning. For example being able to say, “In order to deliver in six months, we require the following factors to be in place.”
To stand out from competitors, solutions providers need to do what they do very well, but also offer differentiation when it comes to additional features. As an example, Yusuf suggests that if he was looking for an intelligent advisor and he found a provider that had taken that offering a step further to provide specific features for the insurance, banking or wealth management industries. “That solution would stand out because it goes beyond being an advisor and into the realm of suiting specific business needs,” he says. “That finesse makes you stand out.”
When it comes to presenting a solution, Yusuf notes it’s easy to lose the audience by focusing on technical aspects and not balancing these with general presentation skills. “People won’t buy into a solution if they can’t even understand what you’ve said while showcasing it. Find a person to present who understands the technicalities of your solution, but who can also speak to people in common English.”
This is even more important when the presentation is happening remotely, especially where the presenter cannot see the full audience and gauge their body language. In this case, it becomes critical to try to make one’s presentation interactive. “It’s also important to tailor your presentation to the context of your audience,” Yusuf recommends. “It needs to be incredibly relatable to the people in the room – the examples you use, the way you tune your features for the environment, your understanding of the market, and the mindset you come with.”
For tech companies looking to expand into new countries, it’s also important to do the homework upfront. “For example, cost is something companies may not have considered,” Yusuf says. “You may have built a solution that costs hundreds of thousands of euros, and you sell it into companies in Switzerland, the UK and France, you’re looking at countries that have a bigger economy, have easier access to funds and can afford your solution more easily. If you bring that to Nigeria, for instance, and you look at things like exchange rates, even though prices may look reasonable, when you start converting, it may not end up being the case.”
Yusuf says it’s also key to understand the environment in which you want to operate. “If you want to bring your solution to a country, it’s difficult to understand that environment if you don’t have some kind of presence there,” he says. “Things like business workflows and regulatory aspects will differ from country to country. You need to consider having a local partner or presence of some kind to help you bridge that gap.”
For example, in Nigeria, solutions catering for investments tend to require a multi-currency feature, which may not have been a consideration if the solution was built in a country or environment where that is not the norm. Yusuf says they also had cases where solutions were presented that relied on integrations with government APIs that are not available in Nigeria. “The mentality you use to build a solution will be different depending on context,” he says. “Companies need to factor that in.”
Having an intermediary to broker an introduction between tech companies and corporates can also be helpful. Yusuf says that in the Nigerian context, it’s a developing economy and most fintechs tend to centre on the similar propositions – payments and micro-lending, with some others that assist savings. “Where there are other types of fintechs in other countries doing things like using blockchain technology and distributed ledger technology for accounting or security purposes, or analytics and KYCs (know your client). Our businesses may not be aware of the other possibilities that exist in the market. Our role at KPMG then becomes to open their minds to these possibilities,” Yusuf explains. “It’s a partnership. We help them identify the issues, identify potential solutions and then guide them through implementing it.”
For tech providers, using a platform like KPMG Matchi expands their reach and provides them with an introduction that they might not otherwise be able to obtain.
Yusuf’s final piece of advice to tech providers looking to partner with specific companies is to reach out to the company, and do their research to try to get as in-depth an understanding of the problem they need to solve as possible. “You could easily find yourself presenting parts of your solution that don’t address the real need,” he says. “People will judge you only on what they’ve seen. It’s up to you to ensure you’re painting a good picture of your capabilities in solving their challenges.”