Questions answered by the experts:

3:36 – What are No Code Accounting Rules? How Will they impact us?
6:45 – Why this trend now? What are some of the drivers you are seeing in the market that are placing a No Code solution in the spotlight?
8:52 – In which cases would we use such a solution?
11:03 – We are using a lot of Excel for various finance processes. Transforming and automating these processes is difficult because any development needs to go to IT. Could No Code and accounting rules potentially help in this case?
13:40 How much training do we need for the No Code Legel language?
15:22 – How can someone leverage an Accounting Rules Platform to do both IFRS9 and IFRS17?
18:27 – How does the No-Code platform help with these kinds of projects?
22:08 – What will be the main benefits of No-Code going forward?

Transcription of the session:

Nicolas:
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening to everyone and welcome to November’s edition of Meet the Experts. Today we will discuss about No Code accounting. As you know many firms still rely on outdated finance architectures based on inflexible systems, siloed data stores and manual work arounds, and spreadsheets all bootstraps together with hardcode interface and expensive legacy technology. The result is finance departments have limited agility to handle business change, and are heavily reliant on IT support. Firms want to move to a digital data-driven finance systems architecture that support business agility, and user control. But they also need to operate within a safe IT environment that includes the finance discipline of audit and transparency.
So today, I’m joined by Mark Miller and Atanas Jelev who will answer all your burning questions, as well as discussing how Legerity FastPost No Code accounting and business rules platform provide finance users with powerful No Code tools to support finance and business change quickly, on demand with no fuss.
Hi, Mark. Hi, Atanas. How you doing? Very good. Very good. So before we start with a question, as a reminder, you can ask all your questions in the comments section, or you can drop us an email at info@legerityfinancials.com where we will do our best to answer all your questions during the event. But if we can’t, we’ll make sure to come back to you after the event via email. So, let’s start. Mark, the first question, it’s really a little bit more general. It’s what are the No Code accounting rules?

Mark:
Okay. Well, let’s start with the basics, I suppose you know, what is an accounting rule? Well, accounting rule is, is something that defines the logic for an accounting posting. So we talked about data-driven accounting, so we’ll have data coming in, say like a premium being paid, something like that. And so the accounting logic defines the debit and the credit for that particular data item. So that’s fairly straightforward. But of course, accounting is never straightforward. And there are often lots of different needs for the accounting results. So what the No Code accounting rules enables you to do is incorporate in the rule, additional logic. So rather than being a straightforward debit this, credit that, that you can have things like ‘if under this circumstance, then post to this account’, or ‘if under different circumstances, post to a different or another account’. And also you can transform the data. So the data arriving may not be exactly what we need for the accounting. So you might want to say for example, a portion of that using a percentage or amortize things. So these kinds of additional calculations and classifications, and dynamic postings are all things that can be handled via what we call No Code accounting rules.

Nicolas:
Great, great and maybe, to follow up, so how this will impact us and maybe also what’s the difference between No Code and Low Code?

Mark:
Yeah, so No Code is what it says. So it’s, it’s really No Coding involved at all. So you simply need to functionally understand the logic of what you’re trying to achieve. And we’ll talk about this more as we go through the questions I expect. But really, you don’t need to know any programming languages, you can just write down like you would do in Excel a simple formula as part of the rule to sort of define what you want to do. Low Code is more aimed for developers. And it’s part of the programming process and obviously helps in the programming process. But it’s certainly not, what I would call, for something for Finance users.
So you know, really, the impact of this is that when you’re thinking about finance transformation, or trying to automate processes, this puts control firmly in the hands of the finance department. So you can kick off projects, firstly they’ll be cheaper, because you won’t be involved with so many IT professionals. And then secondly, you know, they’re more future proof, they’re transparent. So you know, often you might develop a static application and need IT to look after it and any changes, you have to talk to IT and spend money, etc. Whereas in this case, as the business evolves, users can evolve their own rules, and expand their rules into quite complex rules as well as things change.

Nicolas:
Right. Thank you. Thank you very much Mark. And maybe, to Atanas, this is a common trend. So why this trend now? And what are some of the drivers that you see, and speaking to customers about which other places a No Code solution should fix?

Atanas:
Thanks, Nicolas. It’s a good question. I think what we’ve been talking to our clients about, and really what they’re asking us about is how do they take control back into their own hands, rather than relying, as Mark said, on sort of IT departments or third party vendors. But a lot of the drivers that we are seeing is that, you know, the world has basically changed, and the way that we do business has changed. So products need to be taken to market a lot more quickly, a lot more rapidly. And for that to happen, you know, marketing and sales can’t really be slowed down by the back office, which sometimes doesn’t always catch up with sort of front office functions.
The other trend that we’re seeing is that, you know, in general, the finance function, you know, in the five, and not even five, really three years has changed quite a lot. And, you know, the pandemic has driven a lot of that change, as we know, so, you know, hybrid working models, have basically changed the way that the finance function is resourced. You know, there’s hybrid models that are now, that finance departments are taking, so looking at talent across, you know, sort of global geographic, you know, regions, looking for talent that is multi skilled, and therefore, you know, the way that the finance function is coming together is that there’s a sense of autonomy now, that is required for the finance function to, to be able to adapt, and to be sort of, you know, agile and scale very quickly with with these changes from the business.
So, you know, the way that the sort of No Code accounting that Mark opened up with is really for that autonomy to start to happen and come into place, but in a way, also have the control and flexibility of the finance function to be in place. So really moving with a tool that’s, you know, sort of front-end driven, you know, steeped in sort of audit and control, but it’s also flexible.

Nicolas:
Great, great. And, actually, we received now a question, to go a little bit more into the detail of that. And they are asking, in which cases would we use such a solution?

Mark:
I will also pick that up. So we’re running a lot of huge projects at the moment around IFRS17, which is obviously a big change for the insurance industry. And in that case, you’ve got a very complex set of accounting rules to deliver all the detail that you need for disclosures and other complexities within that standard. And so No Code is great in that situation, because, again, we’ve designed a lot of that code ourselves as an organisation, but the receiving customers get full transparency of what is going on inside our solution, they can own that. And as Atanas says, you know, as ways of working are changing and businesses are evolving fast, insurers are turning to blockchain digital insurance. So, you know, these solutions aren’t going to stand still so in that case, it’s a big project, but it’s about ownership in the finance team taking forward.
The other sorts of cases we see are say, for example, more around specific transformation goals that a finance team might have, whereas they may have shied away from doing something in the past this allows you to tackle smaller projects in a cost effective way. So taking that spreadsheet taking that database that you’ve been using in the finance process, when you want to automate it, this gives you that opportunity because you can analyse the requirements internal to yourself, and you can build that in your accounting rules and all the logic that goes with it. And you just need to involve IT in terms of getting the data and automating the data. So I think those are the big cases that we’ve been seeing.

Nicolas:
Thank you, thank you very much Mark. And maybe to get a little bit further into that, a lot of people are actually addressing those use cases, a lot of people are using Excel for various Finance processes, transforming and automating these is very, very difficult, because any development needs to go to IT. So could No Code and accounting rules potentially help in this actually specific use case. Atanas maybe you have a view on that.

Atanas:
Yeah, thanks, Nicolas. So first of all, the you know, getting rid of Excel is maybe a little bit of a pipe dream. So what we, what we’re looking to do is basically to make sure that we are able to capitalise and our customer is able to capitalise on the efforts that they’ve put in, you know, over the years to build up, their Excel technology and the tools and the macros that actually work for them. But we want to basically, you know, do that by enabling them to use a common formulaic language. So this is what we mean by No Code. It’s actually taking that skill that is already built in-house in the finance function, and apply that to a Low and Now Code tool like FastPost. So basically, it’s using this formulaic language to you know, for example, as Mark was saying, maybe just an ‘IF’ statement should be able to write in a formula in Excel and take that across to, to a tool like FastPost.
The other thing is that, you know, what we do is we provide the building blocks, you know, for the finance team to basically build bespoke applications, and, you know, be able to take those to market. So, you know, you don’t need to have the technical language know-how of being,  you know, a Java or C++ developer to be able to build these applications in FastPost. You know, by providing a flexible solution, what we’re also doing is we’re, you know, we’re getting rid of some of the issues that obviously Excel brings, you know, with it, in terms of, you know, a macro breaking, for example, in the middle of a budget run, or, you know, multiple versions of the workbook being shared across different sort of regions and geographies. So, you know, technology, like FastPost, you know, is which is fully audited and accessible via the cloud, you know, we’re able to provide our clients and partners to build and maintain modern enterprise applications, which are rich and user experiences, and have complex integrations, robust monitoring, and are able to handle large volumes of data.
So, in summary, Excel is still going to be a tool that the finance function can use and will use, but what we’re saying is that, you know, once you start applying that, you can actually start shifting a lot of that effort into a controlled environment like FastPost.

Nicolas:
Okay, but, you know, finance departments don’t have a lot of time on their hands, and it’s actually to be trained on a new tool, it’s always a bit of a challenge. So how much training do we need for No Code type language?

Atanas:
Yeah, it’s a fair question. And, you know, with with any, with any technology, there will be a little bit of training involved. We’re not saying that there’s no training whatsoever. I mean, with applying functionality from Excel to any other tool, we see very little of that, though. So, you know, when we, when we work with our clients, you know, the transition that we’ve seen so far, has been very, very light touch when you migrate from from Excel to a No Code tool, like FastPost. So I will touch on maybe the language very quickly. So you know, it’s a, it’s an expression language, we call it LEGEL, or the Legerity expression language. And that effectively is what, you know, is very, very similar to any Excel formula that you would use on a daily basis to do you know, a data lookup or an ‘IF’ statement, or provide a new sort of functionality to bring in new data.

Nicolas:
That’s great. That’s great. Yeah know, everybody knows about Excel even more in the finance department. So it’s a very seamless transition. That’s great. Thank you very much. So the next question maybe for Mark, and all your expertise on the IFRS17 and IFRS9 that is coming for a lot of it Insurance companies. So the question we received is somebody who is now developing their IFRS9 solution and they want to know how they can capitalise on the IFRS17 investment? And how can someone leverage an accounting rules platform for both IFRS9 and IFRS17.

Mark:
Thanks Nicolas. I think, as I sort of mentioned at the start, IFRS17 is particularly complex, so we as an organisation, we own our FastPost platform, but we recognise that interpreting the standards and designing the rules in that case, is quite difficult. So we’ve actually done that for many of our clients. And we have an off-the-shelf product for FastPost Express for IFRS17, where they can implement that very quickly and efficiently. But yeah, so once you’ve, you’ve done that, you know once you have the platform within your organisation, that’s when you know, the penny drops. And you can see how these No Code rules can be extended into other use cases. And obviously, for insurance companies, that means you know, IFRS9 is a relevant target as well, because you have to comply with both 9 and 17, both the new standards. IFRS9, from an accounting perspective is considerably, for insurance companies at least, simpler than IFRS17.
So you can take the posting rules that you need, the classification of the assets and build up those rules in the application and have contingent postings for things like expected credit loss and modelling. So it’s very easy to do that once you have FastPost in your finance architecture to extend that to other subject areas. And obviously, the advantages, not just with the accounting rules, but the sub ledger, part of our application gives you a lot of granularity in your data and your output so that can be applied to IFRS9 to give you a much more granular view of how your assets are performing. And that’s obviously an important part of the overall insurance business IFRS17 is just insurance contracts, there are many other accounting areas for an insurance company, including IFRS9.
So I think that’s the, you know, anybody can talk to us and use FastPost, from scratch for doing transformational projects and implementing No Code accounting rules. But certainly, if you’ve already got the instance of FastPost because you’ve run an IFRS17 project with us, then you’ve got a good start already. And importantly, I think you know hopefully we’re doing a good job explaining how it works. But obviously, being able to see it visually within your organisation is very powerful as well. And you know, referring back to the training point, Atanas was mentioning, not all people will be used to the accounting rule concept, I suppose. So visualising that in the application is a, it’s a fantastic opportunity, you can then see what it can do and apply it and have a look at all of your spreadsheets and your processes that you’re running, you’ll quickly see how an accounting rules engine can very powerfully reply to those and give you some transformational roadmap gains in the future.

Nicolas:
That’s great. And actually, that’s a good continue to the last question I think we’ll be able to address today. It’s how does the No Code platform help with these kinds of projects?

Mark:
Well, I think the great thing about it, is it gets them off the ground. You know, so when you think about the finance team, trying to get investment in their function and trying to transform, it’s often very difficult, particularly when margins are tight. And as I said, there’s a lot of investment in the digital front office, but perhaps not so much in the back office and, and so it really helps because you can get things moving, and you don’t have to be that ambitious. So for example, you might have a transformational goal. But, it’s going to be very hard to communicate to the executives to get budget and sponsorship to deliver something, but obviously with an accounting, No Code accounting rules, you can quickly put some data in, design some rules and start to showcase what you want to do. So I think it really helps because it’s going to allow you to: A) have a more cost effective project, but B) get the projects moving because you can do that in a very quick and easy, easy way. And we can certainly help with that we do run a lot of proof of concepts with many of our clients and that really helps with to sort of project kick-off and budget in obtaining your budget part of the process.
But also I think, you know, once you’ve got an accounting rules platform like ours in your architecture, and you have it working, it starts to you know, trigger thoughts with the various people in the organisation so obviously the projects that you do will only touch few people. But once you have that, you can then extend that to more people and they can understand what it does and how it works. And once you’ve got this sort of idea in your head about what accounting rules are, and once you’ve embedded logic in there, how powerful they are, then you can pull on that that sort of wider understanding in the organisation to have a better visualisation of what kind of improvements you can make. Because people often understand they’ve got an issue, but they don’t really understand how anybody could help or, you know, how they can provide an automated solution, which is obviously, why we see a lot of Excel in the organisation.
But, you know, a No Code platform with these sort of accounting rules embedded, can really, really help throughout the finance team. And that’s what we see in many of our projects. And when we’re working with clients on specific use cases for them. That’s not the end of the story. And typically, the projects will be extended and other use cases added on and we see that across across the platform with all of our clients.

Nicolas:
And that’s, that’s really insightful, because it’s true that from the conversations that we have with all our customers who are going into the finance transformation. Usually the biggest challenge is yes, how do I get the budget? How do I get started? How do I show that there is an impact and often the finance transformation looks so big that you don’t know where to start. And that gives you really a quick start without relying on Excel in order to get things started, tested, get the approval, get the buy in from the people. And this is this is really insightful and quite an interesting thing to discuss with, with all our customers and prospects who are driving finance transformation. So maybe, you know, one of the last questions I highlight is one of the benefits that you just said, and maybe you can both Atanas then maybe Mark, can you highlight what you see as the main benefit of a No Code platform going forwards?

Atanas:
Yeah, thanks, Nicolas. And I think Mark really summarised it quite nicely with in terms of, you know, all the benefits that a No Code solution like FastPost can bring to your finance team and the organisation at large. But, you know, just to summarise, I think what, you know, what we were discussing earlier is that, number one, the time to market is a lot, you know, the cycles are a lot more shorter, so more cost effective, as Mark was saying.
The other thing is that you’re really enabling your multi-skill sort of finance function to, you know, to capitalise on an already built, you know, a really good asset, which they have, which is the skills and knowledge of how the data comes together, how the events work in accounting, and how to actually take a language or, you know, a formula from Excel and apply it to a tool, like FastPost.
But one of the aspects that we didn’t touch on is, you know, how do you sort of attract the finance team for the future. So, you know, the new generation wants to work for, you know, exciting teams that are at the cutting edge of technology that are taking products to market that are working alongside the strategy and marketing teams and sales. So what a No Code solution, like FastPost allows you to do is to really offer that to the new sort of finance team that’s coming on board, that will be sort of, you know, running the show going forward.
So in a way, you’re sort of future proofing, not just, you know, taking products to market, but you really are, you know, bringing a nature of excitement, but sometimes a function like a back office function like finance that sometimes can be misconstrued with, you know, being sort of just an enabler rather than actually being at the, you know, in the front seat of driving and enabling the strategy of the firm.

Nicolas:
Great. Thanks.

Mark:
I’d echo all of that. And I think to summarise the main benefit, a lot of people talk about the role of the CFO changing, their business partnering, and needing to get greater insight from the numbers and support the business. So that’s all great, but you need an enabler, you can’t continuously have your teams crunching numbers, you know, preparing data, things like that, and it’s always talked about, but I really think this No Code accounting rules, combined with all the benefits of cloud and all those sorts of things mean that actually low cost finance transformation is reality. And that can be owned and driven from finance from start to finish, and that’s, that’s the main benefit.

Nicolas:
That’s great. That’s great, very simple, very straightforward. Just to address one of the questions from our side, if you’re looking for a job, you are always welcome to apply at Legerity, so we have the possibility for you to submit your CV and if your profile is a good fit, we will be happy to come back to you. So we reached the time allocated for for today’s Meet the Experts. So now to finish, a quick word about Legerity FastPost.
So FastPost is the next generation accounting rules platform, as we discussed No Code platform, design and developed for large volume, complicated data and processes. It’s cloud native, ultra high speed performance and built on the latest open source technologies in order to enable finance transformation. So when we speak about modern finance departments, they have complex products, high transaction volume, and detailed accounting needs. FastPost addresses those regulatory changes and the legacy debts of old platforms while helping the finance innovate today and prepare for tomorrow.
So if you’re interested in hearing more about Legerity FastPost, you can contact us via our website to arrange a call with one of our finance transformation experts such as Mark and Atanas. I also invite you to follow us on LinkedIn to receive notifications of future events, webinars and other materials. I want to invite you now to our next webinar we have next week, a webinar on ESG and how accounting can really enable sustainability for your company, as well as our webinar in January, which will discuss IFRS17 and how this last year until the regulation comes into place is going to look like, and finally we will have in January at the end of January our next Meet the IFRS Experts.
Unfortunately, December is Christmas or the holiday season, and therefore we will all be busy with our families and taking a little bit a of rest. So on that good note, I just want to thank you Mark, thank you Atanas, and thanks everybody for attending. Thank you and goodbye.