GUIDE: How to supercharge your SME lending with Monto
Published November 2, 2023
What opportunities open up once your lending business gains access to real-time financial data? We’ll cover what you need to know. Here is your guide to getting started, and thriving, with Monto.
In this guide, we will cover:
- Gaining a competitive edge through access to real-time ERP data
- How to test and implement Monto to fetch fresh financial data and KPIs
- Understanding how data can enhance your business model
- Encouraging your customer base to link up their accounting information
SME lending is a hugely underserved corner of the financial industry. Small and medium-sized businesses contribute a lion’s share of growth and employment to society – yet most of these businesses struggle to access the financing they need to grow and manage their cash flow.
A key reason behind this is that many lenders rely on outdated data sources in their credit decisioning. Analysing small businesses is inherently difficult, and without access to up-to-date information sources, lenders are destined to make suboptimal decisions and guesstimates – leaving thousands upon thousands of SMEs without fair access to financing.
"When they’re able to analyse the latest information, lenders can make faster and more accurate decisions – and do so at scale."
The good news is that technology brings a sea change. By leveraging emerging tech, lenders are becoming more nimble, intelligent and automated. Around the world, legacy banks as well as challenger lenders are increasingly using software and AI to provide smarter financing services for SMEs. And they all need one crucial input – access to real-time financial data.
Key trends transforming SME lending as we know it:
- New types of data sources available, through Open banking and Open finance, etc.
- SME businesses are increasingly expecting seamless and personalised services
- Nine in ten (92%) of SMEs globally are open to switching lenders if a competing lender offered a better proposition, according to research from Mambu.
- Challengers pushing the frontiers of tech-driven lending, seizing market share
- AI holds promise for major process improvements (based on real-time data)
These trends, coupled with a risk-laden macroeconomic environment, puts the onus on SME lenders to put real-time data at the heart of their business. When they’re able to analyse the latest information, lenders can make faster and more accurate decisions – and do so at scale. At best, this results in a dramatic improvement for the customer experience, as well as new opportunities for growth, lower overheads, and a stronger financial performance overall.
A question of implementation
But here’s the catch. Garnering the time, knowledge and resources to implement data-driven capabilities can be a major challenge in itself. Building data integrations in-house is costly and resource intensive, whereas finding the right type of technology partner can be tricky.
Monto was founded to solve this issue. We enable any type of lender in Sweden to unleash the potential of real-time accounting data in their processes, through one single API. With a holistic understanding of the financial health of SME businesses, lenders can, potentially:
- Serve more clients (faster)
- Cut risk while boosting profitability
- Improve transparency in the lender-borrower relationship
- Improve credit decisioning and company-level monitoring
- Develop smarter and more personalised financing services
- Become more efficient with data collection; a key process for any lender
Getting real-time ERP data through Monto
Monto is a technology partner that manages ERP data aggregation and enrichment on behalf of lenders, both big and small – so they can modernise their data processing without losing focus on their core business. In addition to data connectivity, we deliver key KPIs, forecasts and data quality indicators.
Our platform provides unified API connectivity to the leading accounting and invoicing software systems in Sweden, including Visma, Fortnox and Billogram. We categorise and standardise the data we fetch so that it becomes easy to digest and feed into proprietary credit models (or build a new one from scratch).
By using Monto, lenders like DBT Capital and Float have gained a comprehensive view of businesses, based on granular and neatly categorised accounting information; mainly balance sheets, income statements and invoicing. This allows them to make faster and better decisions to enhance credit risk management, profitability, conversion and new sales.
Monto's Platform, explained
Monto’s platform can provide game-changing value for big and small lenders alike – without having to worry about getting stuck in year-long transformation projects. Through one API, and a pre-built customer authentication flow, we help redefine your data collection & analysis:
- Rolling balance sheet and income statements instead of previous years’ reports
- Synced invoicing and payment behaviour instead of ad-hoc invoice analysis
- Various non-quantified information instead of static credit bureau data
- Synced and automated data sharing/access instead of manual data collection
Monto consists of three core elements:
- Monto API. Call our API endpoints on various accounting data categories to get intelligence on your connected customers. In short, we provide a comprehensive view of a business' financial health in order to enhance the quality of your decisions.
- Monto App. Our web interface makes it easy and intuitive to engage with our platform. Get a quick overview of companies; dig deeper into features like Reliability Indicator (data quality) and Liquidity Forecast (prognosis on cash flows).
- Monto Link. In order to get financial data on businesses, you need to set up connections to those businesses. Our pre-built authentication tool provides an easy way for SMEs to consent to data sharing, and integrate with their accounting provider.
Monto API and App provide the same insight and functionalities, but through different touchpoints. Both can be used in combination. We also enrich real-time data and apply intelligence to make sure your business gets added business insight, through:
- Reliability indicator. Our models analyse the bookkeeping consistency of a business in order to determine the reliability of their accounting data during specific periods of time. This way, you will know if data from certain months can be relied upon.
- Liquidity Forecast. Our advanced algorithms predict the future cash flows of a business, based on their historical performance. This enables your team to take proactive measures, whether that’s upselling or having an in-depth conversation.
- Subscriptions. You can subscribe to notifications/updates that will let your team know when important financial events occur at a portfolio company. For instance, a surge or drop in revenue. Read more about Subscriptions in Monto Docs.
How to get going with Monto
1. Testing: Getting a feel for Monto’s financial data
- The practicalities of testing
- Reflecting on your organisation’s readiness to test
- Getting coaching & support for the journey ahead
By testing Monto’s service, your organisation can look into the type of information we provide. You can do this either in our dedicated test environment or through a go-live pilot.
Sandbox testing. Monto’s test environment provides a hassle-free way to run API calls to fetch dummy data. All you need is an API key.
Live testing. Go live with our platform straight away. By encouraging your customers to link up their accounting system, you can retrieve data through Monto. You can either use Monto API or the web-based Monto App to engage with the data.
Some lenders may want to avoid committing coding resources to the maximum extent possible. That’s when our no-code tools Monto App and Monto Link can come in handy for initial testing.
To link up your first customer companies, you can choose between two options:
- Embedded link: Implement a Monto Link url on your website or embed it in your user journey. This could be a button that redirects the business to Monto Link.
- No-code: Send an email or other communications to selected businesses. You can include the url and explain the value that your customers can enjoy from data sharing.
Monto Docs is a great resource when you’re in testing and discovery – containing all the technical information your team needs to get started, in one place. Our Docs contain a Product guide, API reference as well as Release Notes.
What’s the purpose of testing, and what’s your organisation’s digital maturity?
We engage with various stripes of lenders, all with their unique needs and business models. Whereas some lenders have a clear idea of how to infuse accounting information into their credit process – essentially, data-driven from day one – others may want to test Monto purely for discovery purposes before launching.
So, how can you set the groundwork for successful testing in your company?
- Set goals for testing, so you can define success and evaluate the solution better.
- Make sure you have the necessary developer resources and domain expertise available
- If you represent a large organisation, it’s important to set a manageable solution scope. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to launch a limited pilot. If the pilot proves successful with tangible KPIs, it will be easier to expand on the solution later on.
- You may test a concept with a limited number of customers, and later expand on the solution to make data a core part of your offering.
Briefly about developer resources
Most lenders have developer resources available and prefer to start out with the API. However, some companies are looking for more low code solutions, where they can commit minimal in-house developer resources (provided there are developers).
- Opting for Monto App to easily gauge the financial health of connected customers, and gain an overview of their connected portfolio.
- Informing customers about data sharing through email sendouts.
Coaching & Support for the journey ahead
Once you have progressed to testing, your organisation will get hands-on support and coaching from Monto’s team. We’ll guide you in both strategic and tactical matters, whether it concerns the technical or commercial side of things. Our support is naturally more extensive if you become a paying customer and we get a better understanding of your long-term needs.
We strongly believe that data-driven lending, when done intentionally, can transform a lending business. For most lenders, accessing analysing real-time accounting data – and potentially merging it with other digital data sources – is a novel concept. So there’s naturally a learning curve, both technically and commercially. Progress begins by taking concrete steps.
“Data alone has no value. It becomes useful only if it augments your business model, credit process or customer experience.”
Remember, the ultimate goal of this is to improve your key financial KPIs: better decision making leading to improved retention, reduced risk and more cost-effective internal processes; and stronger and longer lasting customer relationships and brand positioning.
- Get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
- We set up an account for your organisation
- Your team will get a) a unique API key b) access to Monto App c) a unique link that will enable you to set up connections with companies (Monto Link)
- Determine whether you want to sandbox test first, or go live straight away – without making any long-term financial commitments.
2. Implementation: Going the distance with Monto
- Fitting the data into your business model and processes
- Thinking about incentives to connect customer companies
Fresh financial information is a valuable resource for any SME lender. The added insight from accounting data provides opportunities to improve not just credit decisioning but also to eliminate manual processes that would otherwise take up the time of your employees.
But, data alone has little value – even if it’s best in class. Data becomes valuable only if it fits into your business model and processes. Additionally, you need to commit the necessary human resources to make sure the data is used in the right way, in the right context.
In practice, this could mean feeding data into your credit models or algorithms in order to help produce the decisions and outcomes that your teams need, based on a thorough understanding of your customers. (It’s also crucial to have analytics capabilities that improve your data-driven decisioning over time and across your portfolio, but that’s another post).
To avoid half measure implementations, consider the following:
- First, you need to develop a long-term strategy to use data in your lending business (including training, development, modelling). This could naturally be an iterative process that evolves over time.
- Second, you need to find a way to define success and follow up on your KPIs. For instance, the time it takes to process applications should go down if you can seamlessly access accounting data. You should also be able to pinpoint more high-value cases.
- Third, you need to make sure that you are marketing the solution externally, so that you can achieve a critical mass of customers sharing their data.
Different implementations depending on organisational needs / roles
Implementing new ways of working always involves new behaviours and routines for your employees. For instance, giving your credit team access to up-to-date data enables them to include this data in their credit decisioning models. Think about how you can make the transition towards data-driven processes as easy and inspiring for your team as possible.
Consider training & development, explaining the strategy behind the new data-driven routines, and make sure to give your credit agents ownership over their job, so they can continue the ongoing development of your credit models and processes. (In the appendix, you’ll learn how various functions can benefit from real-time data.)
Ultimately, you are the expert on your own business and target audience. Below are some key ways in which real-time data can be operationalised in a lending business:
- Credit decisioning support. Establishing a system that feeds accounting metrics and KPIs into a proprietary credit model. Alternatively, using Monto App to get a quick, web-based overview of connected companies’ financial performance.
- Onboarding. Many lenders prefer to implement Monto Link as part of their application/customer journey, so that businesses can link up their accounting software with a few clicks – and enjoy a better user experience compared to manual data entry.
- Getting specific data categories. Invoice based financing providers are often in need of the type of synced, searchable invoice information that Monto can provide.
- Ongoing follow up of portfolio. Having real-time data means that you have continuous insight into borrower performance – provided that connection is established beyond the application. This can be a great way to understand both risks and opportunities.
- Stronger customer relationships. With continuous insight into the financial health of businesses, lenders can become proactive partners, and offer financing when it’s most needed.
About Incentives: Start making connections to your business customers
Getting buy-in from customers is an essential part of succeeding in data sharing initiatives. You need to get your potential and existing borrowers to provide consent in order for them to complete the connection to their accounting (or banking, CRM, etc.) software. Monto Link has been designed to include all the necessary disclaimers and enablers for seamless data sharing.
“82 percent of SME businesses in Sweden are ready to share their accounting data in exchange for a better service.” - Monto SME survey, 2023
Most businesses today are open to data sharing, as long as they get a better price or service in return. This is why you should communicate clearly the benefits of data sharing, as well as the terms and conditions that apply to the sharing of accounting data. What are the incentives that your organisation can offer to customers, in exchange for them sharing data?
Some of the strongest incentives for sharing data are, generally:
- Better pricing and terms. The strongest incentive for data sharing is price. Offering an interest rate or fee discount to connected companies can help you gain traction.
- More loan approvals. An increased probability of getting an application approved, or the desired credit limit.
- Smarter financing solutions. If you offer, say, flexible credit lines, then companies that share their data can have a more transparent relationship and gain access to more credit as they grow – without having to apply for financing repeatedly.
- Faster application handling. With data connectivity, it often becomes easier for credit agents to make confident decisions – and to do it faster than if they had to obtain bookkeeping information on an ad-hoc basis. This results in faster payouts for customers.
- Better support and customer service. When credit agents or salespeople know more about a company, they are empowered to understand the needs and circumstances of their customers.
If you need additional information or inspiration from Monto when it comes to customer communications, we have additional resources available.
Become a Monto customer, today
*Our pricing model is transparent, meaning that you pay a fixed fee per year/month, plus a variable fee that is in relation to the amount of connections that are active. Just enter your contact details *here or email email@example.com in order to test our service.
3. Review, Iterate, Improve
- Taking a ‘multi-stage rocket’ approach to data
- Making real-time data a more integral part of your offering
- Exploring new avenues for development: open data, AI, embedded lending
As you look to enhance your lending business through real-time data, it’s important to have a long-term perspective. It’s perfectly normal to have a limited solution scope and connected customer base at first. Once you have gained learnings and feedback from your customers (and employees), it should become easier to expand your solution on a bigger scale.
To enable optimal data-driven processes in your organisation, consider the following:
- Analyse how your specific process improves by leveraging real-time data. What further development or support is needed to launch your solution into the mainstream?
- Iterate on your data-driven process. For instance, can you utilise a broader set of data to enhance credit monitoring further? Are there ways to streamline internal processes by integrating real-time insight into your tools and systems?
- How can you improve your credit models and lending criteria, given the new set of data you are receiving? Make sure to engage your employees in this process.
- Take an ecosystem approach to your tech stack. As you work with new tech providers, for instance in AI, you can fully reap the benefits of real-time data access.
Monto: Our platform caters to many different user profiles
A typical scenario among our customers is that they first start using the API. Later on, they might roll out the Monto App to selected teams or employees, such as sales and credit. This makes it possible to make real-time data “top of mind” throughout your lending lifecycle.
What’s more, having data science and analytics capabilities is a crucial way to extract new insight. If your organisation can continuously access quality data, it means you can aggregate this data and tweak your credit models according to the industry, history, financials and ownership profile of your borrowers.
Growing your connected base of borrowers
As we mentioned earlier, data sharing can be successful only if you have well-informed customers who trust you, and enjoy the added value you provide through real-time data. Think about how you can develop your product offering and related marketing, so that your customers understand that your services are smart and tailored to your audience.
Explore new use cases
Real-time accounting data is a necessary fuel for intelligence. There are several different ways that ERP data, in combination with other data sources, can pave the way for smarter lending.
Embedded lending, Open Finance and AI are all hot and up and coming trends that will differentiate leaders from laggards in the years to come. What all of these concepts have in common is that they require up-to-date financial data in an enriched format.
AI-based solutions. By collecting quality data at scale and over time, your organisation can use AI models for advanced application handling, scoring, monitoring, and more. It’s important to know what AI capabilities to develop in house, and what to buy from specialist providers.
Attracting new business. ERP data can enhance lending services by enabling tailored prices, limits and services to businesses’ needs. By allowing new prospects to connect their accounting software in the application journey, you can be more personalised from the get-go.
Embedded financing solutions. If you offer your lending services inside ERP systems or through loan brokers, you can differentiate yourself by enabling data sharing for your customers. In many cases, data sharing is a precondition for embedded financing services.
Fraud detection and improved KYC/AML. Efficient KYC/AML is dependent on real-time data. Analysing ERP data in combination with open banking data can be a powerful way to detect fraud. Repayment issues among customers means less money; whereas fraud means no money at all.
We hope you found our guide useful!