Posted on May 8, 2019 by staff

Big bank culture is holding back ‘solopreneurs’


The culture of ‘big banks’ is stifling innovation and only new technology can give solopreneurs access to fast funding, finance and accounting.

That’s the view of Andrew Garvey, chief commercial officer of FinTech Countingup.

The London start-up is on a mission to rethink the way people and small businesses manage their finances in a single mobile app.

Countingup is not alone. New FinTech start-ups emerge every day to challenge the way big banks do business and are collectively creating massive disruption.

“There’s a feeling that ‘we’re all in this together’ and we’re all trying to disrupt the big boys, particularly the big banks who have millions of customers locked up,” Garvey told BusinessCloud.

But unlike its challenger bank allies, this start-up is attempting not only to disrupt banking but the way small businesses do accounting too.

“For us to achieve simplicity we need to take on two well-established industries. If we go back ten or 15 years, if you had an idea for a business actually implementing it was really hard,” explained Garvey.

“You had to look for premises and promotion was difficult. Applying for a bank account was really difficult. Now, you can literally get a business set up within an hour.”

Garvey describes the Countingup app as a ‘business current account that will also do your taxes’.

It’s designed to save time by combining a business account with semi-automated accounting software, replacing the traditionally long process of creating invoices, paying bills and working out expenses manually.

Garvey suggests the tech could conservatively save eight hours a month. But the app’s other stand-out feature is its direct access to funding.

“We’ve partnered with some of the FinTech lenders, so you can even have start-up capital in that account within a few hours,” said Garvey.

As part of new financial integrations – which could soon become a financial marketplace – it has partnered with lenders including London-based business funding firms iwoca and Capital on Tap.

“We want to use banking data to make it easier to run a business in terms of tax and accounting. By pushing that out to our partners we’ve been able to offer some really good financing deals to our customers,” he said.

The start-up’s innovation began when founder Tim Fouracre created the company in 2017. Frustrated that accounting software and online banking could not ‘talk’ to one another, Fouracre moved his attention from his successful accounting software Clear Books to this new venture.

Garvey, who officially joined the now 14-strong company months after launch, saw the levels of innovation immediately in comparison to his work for big banks.

“The culture in large banks doesn’t encourage innovation,” he said. “They are stifled by legacy technology. If you have 20,000 people working in one place, any project team quickly becomes really large and the decision-making process slows down.”

But the company’s new goals will require a business of considerable scale, already on its roadmap is the integration of bill payments, compliance with Making Tax Digital scheme – an initiative that sets out a vision for the ‘end of the tax return’ – and building web access for people who want see and share more financial details.

Garvey said that the firm wants to become the market leader, while retaining the innovation of its now small team.

“We don’t want to stay small. We want to be the financial platform of a million small businesses,” he said.