Q&A with Phil Hobden
The Know-it team is growing, and we are pleased to welcome Phil Hobden as Head of Growth and Strategy!
We are very excited to have Phil join us and we asked Phil some questions about why he decided to be a Know-it-all.
Here’s what he had to say:
- What were the deciding factors for you to join us?
Honestly, it’s a combination of factors – I always look for a business with strong existing leadership who bring with them a track record of success – clearly something that Lynne has done with Know-it and Darcey Quigley previously. There must be a killer product with it and a market that is ripe for innovation. But probably the biggest reason is ambition. Where do they want to go? What’s the end game? For Know-it we want to be global, and you probably don’t get much bigger and bolder than that. So aspiration, great product & team, strong leadership… for me Know-it has all this and much more. Why WOULDN’T you want to be part of that?
2. You’ve previously worked in fintech, how does the Know-it platform stand out to you and what can it offer businesses?
It stands out as it’s a product that solves several major issues a business faces and provides a true one stop shop solution. So not only can the product help make sure you are better managing all aspects of your credit control & credit management, but it connects beautifully with key ledger software to make it all seamless and easy. This means, certainly for our connected SMB’s it’s about protecting the businesses cash flow whilst reducing the time and often awkward process of chasing (time which would be better spent in the business) and doing it all in one simple but powerful platform.
3. Given your experience, what qualities/knowledge are you hoping to impart on the Know-it team?
For years I’ve been leading and building sales teams, defining go to market strategy and growing businesses to be successful. In fact, I’ve been working with accountants and SMB’s for almost 15 years now in various guises and it’s this time in the accountech market that I’ve enjoyed working the most. I love the impact that accountants can have to businesses – from freeing up time and saving them money to making sure they have the right technology and education to make their business operate at its peak.
By partnering with accountants, bookkeepers and advisors, I plan to build on the amazing work the team have done so far and continue to supercharge the platform into the advisor led space, ensuring that we make a lot of noise in the process.
Simply put EVERY SMB business should be using Know-it and whilst there are other software’s in the market there that touches on what we do, no one has yet nailed that end-to-end piece like we have.
4. What are your initial thoughts on the growing Scottish tech scene?
It’s booming. So many great Scottish tech businesses have grown up over the last few years, led by better and more retargeted funding which has led to a desire to decentralise expertise and experience from London.
I’ve partnered with a few Scottish fintech’s over the last few years, and they seem to have a different drive and outlook. And we are only at the start of it right now… Scotland has a LOT more to come and Know-It will be the leading light of those businesses.
5. What is the next major innovation you think will happen in the UK fintech scene?
Regulation is still interesting – we’ve got a lot of work to do on open banking, making tax digital and a host of hold overs from our days in and out of the EU. Out of every regulation change will come more innovation. Just look at how the changes in banking regulation after 2008 led to the current boom in fintech.
But being honest – we’ve been in a period of iteration rather than revolution for the past few years and technology and trends bed in. But AI is the thing poised to change that, especially now the hype around the metaverse and NFT’s have died a death. It feels like with AI we can focus on the real future.
What future is that? Well let’s start with AI taking away the jobs you don’t want to do and making the one you DO much easier.
In accountancy this means that AI will free up accountants & bookkeepers from their day-to-day grind to be able to be better and more present advisors to their clients. It’s not coming for their jobs – it’s coming for the tasks that make their job less client focused. That’s exciting. AI will lead to a step change in human communication and enable advisor led relationships to be even more powerful.
But in general, even when we are iterating, the accountech & fintech space is just always so dynamic and exciting.
6. What is your opinion on the growing stresses for SMEs regarding late payments?
The impact is larger than people think: according to a survey by accountancy software Sage back in 2021, SMEs in the UK spent an average of 15 days a year chasing late payments, with an estimated cost of £6.7 billion in staff time. That’s huge. But it gets worse – according to Xero “77% of SME owners in the UK experienced stress and anxiety due to late payments.”
So, the emotional and financial pain is real, just as its impact is. It’s a cancer on businesses, led often by suppliers and big businesses that can do better. There should never be 120 day payment terms from supermarkets to vendors. 120 days and even then, you have to chase? The balance is wrong. That impacts businesses and the people running them – businesses that can’t afford the time or extra pressure especially when there’s so much more going on right now.
We also need to get a handle on supply chains – remember Zavvi? They brought out Virgin megastores and were trading well right up until Woolworths (their key supplier via their Entertainment subsidiary) went bust. That impact was huge – a lack of stock at Christmas meant the business was effectively paralysed and was shut down shortly after with even more supply chain impact. If you can’t see those potential risks and shocks, if you are not looking then there is a substantial risk to you and your business. But most SMB’s don’t look at this. It’s a hidden danger that needs to have more education.
But here’s the thing – I honestly think that accountants are best placed to lead this charge, powered by technology like Know-it. But (and here’s the rub) often they are the first one that need to get their house in order. I’ve seen accountants with scary amounts of bad and doubtful debts – they don’t want to damage their relationships so take the hit themselves. So, let’s start there – helping accountants and shoring up their balance sheets and once they see the value they will want to help and support their clients.
7. Could you tell us about some of the partnerships you have helped nurture over the years which have had the biggest impact?
Working previously at a fintech funding platform I partnered with the governing body ACCA to deliver financial education to its members. Over the course of a 6 webinar series, we had thousands of members register for the events and the feedback and impact was huge. We wanted to demystify funding – something still looked on by many accountants as out of their comfort zone – as well as everything else that came alongside with it. That initial partnership created a relationship that’s still going strong after I left.
There’s been banks, over member bodies, tech partnerships… the list is long. All successful and impactful in their own way.
But it’s not just the big ones – partnering with some of the most innovative accountancy firms in the UK to help them better support their SME businesses has often been some of the most for-filling successes. During the pandemic this was especially true – we were (at times literally helping clients of accountants keep the doors open and lights on. That’s when you really feel you are making a difference.
8. Do you have any previous start-ups experience? If so, describe your experience. If not, what are you looking forward to most about working at a fintech start-up?
Yes. I’ve worked with 2 pre–series A bootstrapped businesses as they went through that initial round of funding. I’ve learned some of the pitfalls of investor led growth first hand – from scaling too fast and in the wrong places, to product choices that don’t play to your strengths… there’s a long list. But I’ve also seen the successes – international growth, growing winning teams, shiny new offices.
And this is what I love about start-ups. Everyone is on a journey. What I also love about start-ups is that you get the power to learn… and that’s always been one of my mantras ‘Fail Fast, learn Quick’. Startups aren’t afraid to try something and fail. A startup will try 10 things and fail 8 times but the two times it hits it will hit big. A corporate will try two things, take 4 years to fail and then start again at the start often never learning more than ‘Failure is bad’ and become even more risk adverse along the way. The pace, ability to direct and influence change, the ability to adapt to a dynamic market… if it’s your bag (and it certainly is mine) start-ups are the best places to be.
9. Tell us about any awards or industry recognition you have received
As a sales leader I’ve been invited on numerous podcasts to speak, to events to both be part of and host panels, to keynote and recently judging on a few different business awards. I’ve been asked to contribute thought leadership pieces to industry journals and been part of businesses that have taken home awards at for both Xero and the Accounting Excellence Awards (the industry gold standard). I’ve even been asked to write my own blog on sales and leadership for two huge online publications – Elite Business and Engage Sales.
But honestly the recognition that means the most to me is the feedback from our customers when we help them solve their clients’ issues. When we’ve recovered a debt that means the doors can stay open, when we’ve found investment for a company so it can expand and employ more people or even when we help an accountant retain a client through better implementation of technology THAT’S when you know what you are doing is the right thing. And that feels better than any award or trophy.
To hear more from Phil, check out his podcast: ‘The Story Of’, brought to you in partnership with Know-it!
Lynne is the Founder and CEO of Know-it!
She is a passionate, driven and forward-thinking entrepreneur determined to help resolve the late payment crisis gripping SMEs.
Having worked within the credit management industry for over 27 years and ran UK leading commercial debt recovery specialists Darcey Quigley & Co for over 16 years, Know-it was devleoped to make credit control more accessilble for SMEs to help them effectively mitigate credit risk, reduce debtor days and boost cashflow!
Connect with me on LinkedIn!