Paul Puxty originally trained as a Chartered Accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, working in their audit function. After 12 years with PwC, gaining varied work experiences, including a two-year spell in Melbourne, Australia, he was looking for his first role in “industry”, which resulted in joining Neopost as Financial Controller in 2001. After 5 years in that role, in 2006 he was promoted to the role of Finance Director for Neopost UK. Here Paul tells us more about the ins and outs of his role, his day-to-day responsibilities and Neopost.
How would you describe your role at Neopost, especially in relation to ensuring business growth?
Within Neopost, as well as my responsibilities for the traditional finance function, I am also responsible for a large credit control team (at any one time we can have upwards of 40,000 live customers), our UK leasing operations and IT. In addition, I am also responsible for the cash collection of around £0.5 billion in respect of postage collected from customers and paid over to Royal Mail.
My specific responsibilities in relation to ensuring business growth are (i) ensuring that we have the appropriate systems and processes in place to cope with a growing customer base and increasingly new and varied revenue streams, for example Software as a Service (SAAS) revenues, (ii) ensuring that the UK leasing operation continues to provide appropriate finance solutions to allow our customers to finance the purchase of Neopost products, and (iii) to support the business in identifying new revenue opportunities, whether through acquisition, partnership or new products.
How is Neopost adapting its products to the changing landscape of mail and communications?
The methods used by businesses to communicate with employees, customers and partners have evolved rapidly in the last few decades. Where once physical mail and fax reigned supreme, digital channels are now often chosen for their cost effectiveness and speed. Companies must utilise multiple channels in order to send and receive correspondence via the method that best suits the message being sent and the preferences of the recipient. Accurately managing personalised communications such as invoices, payments and marketing promotions are critical interactions with customers that will impact cost, efficiency and customer satisfaction.
As such, Neopost’s software portfolio complements our expertise in mail, which remains an important channel for many companies and customers. Our Output Management Software (OMS) solutions empower organisations to simply manage and enrich communications across every customer touchpoint – mail, email, SDS and website. Our electronic document management software digitally captures data from all types of physical and electronic documents to allow easy distribution, online processing and archiving.
Does your role include cost saving throughout the business?
One of the main responsibilities of any Finance Director is controlling costs. Businesses want to keep innovating and providing a better service for customers, but achieving that involves ensuring resources are being invested in the most effective ways. You have to analyse your outgoings, making sure capital isn’t being spent on redundant overheads that will create value if used elsewhere. Neopost has around 1.8m outbound communications with our customers each year (excluding our website), so I have a keen interest in all the communications that the company distributes.
How are you adapting to the challenge of digitisation in the finance department and Neopost generally?
Digital technology has had a massive impact on our finance department and wider business too. We have transitioned to e-invoicing to reduce the costs and time involved in billing our customers. After only 6 months 70% of customers had transitioned to email, so the savings on postage were substantial. In addition, processing time from invoice creation to delivery to recipient has been reduced by up to 5 days. Hardcopies of critical documents, such as invoices, quotes and contracts, have almost become redundant, with electronic versions providing instant retrieval and accessibility, savings on storage space, as well as a more comprehensive audit trail.
Our e-invoicing solutions empower accounts receivable teams to automate the preparation, creation and sending of digital invoices, drastically shortening payment times. It’s a similar story when it comes to payment processing where electronic document management (EDM) solutions manage document workflow, ensuring digital items are reaching their intended targets and not sitting unread in inboxes. The man hours spent on cheque validation have been reduced by 20% and the processing time per cheque from opening to validation was cut by 50%.
How much of your time is taken up with Compliance issues? How do you manage these problems?
Compliance is often viewed as a burden, and accounting is arguably more stringently regulated than any of the other functions. We need to ensure that our processes comply with HMRC requirements, regarding auditability and archiving, and that the right document goes to the right person. As such, ensuring that all of the necessary requirements are being met from the start is vital, which means rigorous and reliable processes are essential to ensure that tasks are completed in a compliant way.
The word ‘audit’ will always generate a certain element of dread, but companies that include compliance from the beginning and imbed it into their everyday accounting activities will decrease the need for the mad rush to get everything in order.
To find out how your business can benefit from e-invoicing, download Neopost’s white paper by visiting www.neopost.co.uk/einvoicingwp.