WebAccountPlus is working to digitalize the corporate customer advisory business from the ground up. It offers clients the freedom to engage with their real-time company data through its business intelligence and the Digital Corporate AdvisorTM (DCA) as part of a self-service option or use their dashboard as a whole or in part with a tax advisor, trustee, management consultant, bank manager, or insurance advisor live and get immediate professional advice.
“Sustainable, profitable growth through technology and innovation leadership, as a SaaS provider and as a global leader in automated accounting for SMEs, corporates, asset managers, pension funds and family offices, is our mission,” says Roland Stahli.
In our interaction with Roland, he talks more about how AI and automation can help support business owners and service providers in running their businesses profitably while reducing administrative efforts. Here’s an edited excerpt.
What was the idea behind starting your business?
The initial idea was to provide a company with comprehensive digital support – so that they can completely emancipate themselves from third parties and decide for themselves which dedicated advice or support they need and when. We wanted this to happen without having to dive deep into business management knowledge. Consequently, this would free entrepreneurs and business leaders from the tedious administration and concentrate exclusively on their core business.
Eventually, our idea was conceptualized in the development of the world’s first Digital Corporate Advisor™ paired with AI – a kind of Robo Advisor for SMEs that continuously calculates the KPIs relevant to their company across the entire company data universe in real-time and then offers business management instructions. To do this, we first had to form the framework. The question that came up here was, “How do we get the comprehensive company data which is also verified?” So, we focused on the complete digitization of a company to make the transition easy and painless. This is only possible if you have a professional accountant (for micro and small companies) or a professional CFO for larger companies.
How would you describe the market scenario in which your company operates?
Our core focus is within the corporate sector, where we position ourselves as a SaaS fintech company leveraging AI – Open CorporateTM. In addition to software development, we also engage in corporate consulting and fiduciary services.
We are probably the first organization in the world to be able to offer a complete digitization of office operations to a company of any size globally.
We promote the Digital Corporate Advisor™ both in the self-service and in the hybrid area.
For this reason, we work in the holding company as a SaaS provider and integrator of all systems and data relevant to a company, such as CRM, expense management, multi-banking, accounting software, HR, portfolio management and analytics.
On one hand, our subsidiary or franchising partner companies from the accounting (or banking or insurance) sector act as an accounting factory (automated accounting). Due to the complete data situation, our partner strengthens its advisory business and can open new business areas.
How does your company contribute to the overall competitive global platform?
We take 80% of an SME’s office work off their hands. They don’t need to know anything about accounting – they can delegate this entirely to their accountant. Moreover, they don’t need to know anything about financial figures and business management. Our Digital Corporate AdvisorTM accompanies the entrepreneur in their daily routine and points out potential problems or opportunities.
Our innovative Open CorporateTM model serves as a pivotal tool in facilitating a company’s communication with the outside world while seamlessly connecting with Open Banking and Open Finance. Besides, we go one crucial step further than that. The Open CorporateTM approach assumes that a company has all its data in the cloud including its interpretation. Here, we envision a future where the company gains complete control and decides to whom, when, and via which channel and in which case, a selective range of corporate data will be made available in real-time.
Ideally, the SME will receive an indication that it needs funding. This is determined by our Digital Corporate Advisor™ based on pre-defined rules and calculated KPIs. The offer request is then posted anonymously on our platform (offer requests and trading) with the relevant company data. Corresponding providers of financing products can now offer leasing, factoring or a loan. Since the offeror has the guarantee from us that we monitor the company with the predefined KPIs in real-time, he runs a very low credit default risk. Because the data is verified by the accountant.
From the SME’s point of view, they are no longer the supplicant but in a strong position due to their transparent data. They can choose with a click whether to accept an offer or not. If yes, the customer data is released. Instant processing is now possible via Smart Contract. We still have to build this part – but everything else is in place.
How difficult was the beginning? How did you manage to overcome them and move forward?
Over the course of 7 years, we undertook preparatory work without outside investment, creating everything with hard work along with support from Friends & Family. While this path brought with it the disadvantage of a double burden and very high entrepreneurial risk, it also conferred a distinct advantage: we could implement our solution without time pressure and profitability, exactly as we wanted it based on our exhaustive research and countless workshops with many banks, entrepreneurs, and business owners.
To maintain our independence in this phase, we did not want to take the Silicon Valley start-up route at present, but only when our solution has reached market maturity.
How would you describe the working environment in your company?
In the holding, we maintain very flat hierarchies, regardless of the partner share. Common important strategic decisions are collaboratively worked out in the team. We understand that a functioning management team with a handful partners without ego problems can achieve the effect of fifty managers in a large company. This is because we don’t engage in internal disputes; rather, we recognize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses and leverage them accordingly.
Do you think that companies should not only contribute to economic growth but also focus on their social responsibility?
Yes, of course. All companies must focus on social responsibilities along with their economic growth. Here, I want to highlight our contribution to sustainability.
There are a few to mention. Broadly speaking, our solutions greatly simplify office operations for entrepreneurs and service providers, leading to an impressive 80% reduction in paper consumption. Entrepreneurs can focus exclusively on their core business, free from the burdens of accounting and business management. This approach also has an impact on the educational concept. Speaking of service providers, they experience improvements in their offerings and become incredibly efficient in their operations.
SMEs strengthen in the medium term and benefit from the comprehensive support provided by our digital helpers, which not only identify errors but also implement improvement measures. It ultimately leads to increased profitability in the medium term.
Individual countries and continents in turn benefit from strong SMEs – these are the engines of any economy, which lead to the creation of new and high-quality jobs. A government gets anonymized access to micro-economic data – these can be important leading indicators, for example, to avert a recession, etc.
Furthermore, economic aid from the UN or the World Bank can be effectively placed in individual regions on a sector-specific basis to strengthen those selectively, and not simply fund somewhere in a watering can approach. The more data we have and the more countries we can serve with partners, the more sustainably the entire world can be helped. In line with our commitment to help Africa, we aspire to collaborate with governments to help countries that have been disadvantaged until now to become fully digitized. This constitutes our meaningful social contribution to the world.
The realization of this vision depends on our ability to garner support from as many decision-makers as possible, including politicians. So, we invite C-level executives and leaders to reflect on our vision, and we encourage them to engage with us. Together, we can navigate the path towards the age of corporate digitization and expand our market presence in various countries through their network of contacts.
How important is social media today for building an influential business?
I think it is absolutely necessary and key to our strategy of building an influential business. In addition to our posts on LinkedIn, we are poised to harness the full spectrum of social media platforms in our future endeavors. To bolster our capabilities in this regard, we have recently hired a social media professional in our team. The combination of the right message and our innovative solution promises to yield an extraordinary level of outreach and engagement.
To build a high-performance culture, organizations must have a strong value system with their employees based on open communication, trust, and feedback. What is your opinion on this?
As mentioned earlier, we live this culture from within. Our commitment to this culture is facilitated by the current structure of our holding company, where we work together as about ten partners with participation. In addition, we engage the services of about 30 days of full-time developers offshore working on a contract basis.
The subsidiaries will be organized independently in the future. Of course, it makes a difference if you act as a large company and have bought one or the other company via M&A, perhaps with different values. In Switzerland, the takeover of CS by UBS is currently in the news. That is, of course, a completely different story. We can talk about the beautiful theory for a long time.
Without the success of the employees, the success of the entire company will be difficult to achieve. How do you take this statement?
I take this statement quite seriously. For this reason, every employee within our holding company is a shareholder at the same time, thereby enabling them to participate directly in the development of value. It is worth noting that it takes people to make decisions, yet it needs not entail authoritative behavior on their part. We all need to respect and value people on a human level instead of acting like bosses.
In instances where I identify that we have a well-poisoner in the team, we take decisive action and release them. This approach, while firm, is rooted in the belief that it is more socially responsible to address issues promptly, even if it means ending an association uncomfortably, rather than subjecting the entire team to a negative atmosphere. I trust that this approach aligns with our commitment to fostering a more humane and harmonious working environment.
What role do innovation and technology play in scaling up a company?
Innovation and technology, complemented by extensive business acumen and a profound understanding of the market, unquestionably form the cornerstone of our enterprise. And we are extremely well-positioned with that. We have a multi-generational talent pool, spanning from Generation Z to seasoned industry veterans. Our partnership with Chris Skinner, a preeminent influencer in the fintech world, further reinforces our strategic strength and expertise in this sphere.
What does the future hold for your company? What do you have planned next?
The pilot phase in Switzerland is currently underway. Between October and November, we are participating in very important Accounting and Fintech events in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. At the Accounting & Finance Show in Singapore on 10/10 +11/10, for example, we will be there as a Platinum Sponsor and present our Open Corporate™ solution in a keynote speech.
From November 2023, our Digital Corporate Advisor ™ will also go into production as a USP. We’ve already received numerous inquiries and expressions of interest. In the first quarter, we will push our foreign expansion. Release 3.0 will then bring the generic mediation platform with the offer requests and opening of our Open Corporate ™ platform to third parties in B2B.
Knowing the man behind WebAccountPlus
Roland, as the founder and CEO, leads the vision, strategy and overall operations at WebAcccountPlus. He comes with a career that spans 45 years in banking, 25 years in IT, and 12 years of experience abroad, including 5 years in Africa and 1 year in Asia.
I have a sense of respect and love for fellow human beings. I also believe in the philosophy of ‘live and let live’; however, within a defined structure and a set of rules. At WebAccountPlus, we hope to practice humility, promote innovation, advocate for sustainability, and allow partners to participate in the company’s value development.
“We are probably the first organization in the world to be able to offer a complete digitization of office operations to a company of any size globally.”
Year of foundation: 2022 (preparatory work already from approx. 2017).
Office locations: Pfäffikon SZ – Switzerland