Interview with Arnout Wouters, CFO Erasmus College Brussels.
Arnout Wouters, CFO of the Erasmus College in Brussels, realizes that digitalization is not nearly as comprehensive in education as it is in the business world. He regards the automation of finance flows as one of the challenges of his team in the years ahead. At the same time, the team is being challenged by the student population to follow and adopt new payment trends.
This blog is part of the ‘Finance beyond the figures’ Trend Report.
Arnout Wouters, CFO Erasmus College: “The demand from our student population to be able to make small contactless payments in the student restaurant is increasing. For young people, financial cutting edge technology is the most normal thing in the world, so they need the administrators of their educational institution to also explore these paths.”
The end of paper in administrative processing
“Major players in the education sector already succeeded in spotting trends in the rises and falls in enrolment numbers.”
At the same time, our back office is also gradually switching from paper to digital. We have already noticed that education is not at the top of the list of priorities for software suppliers. Their target group is the business world and the government sector, which means that many of their standard processes are not geared to the specific needs of a college.”
However, automation opens up a range of possibilities in the field of business intelligence. Arnout Wouters: “Anyone who is able to intelligently analyze big data is one step ahead. We notice this today among the major players in the education sector. Some colleges and universities have already succeeded in spotting trends in the rises and falls in enrolment numbers, finance flows, demographic and other social changes, etc. In this way they are able to improve their competitiveness because they are able to change course faster than we are. By offering new courses, for example, or by adapting existing curricula.”
Advice tailored to the sector
« Financial technology is starting to cannibalize part of the bank’s service. »
Erasmus College works together with the four major Belgian banks. Arnout Wouters: “Banks are trusted partners for us, but they have to reinvent themselves. After all, financial technology is starting to cannibalize part of the service. There are even some who claim that fintech will completely eradicate the role of banks as intermediaries in the long term. Of course we are not there yet, but you get the feeling that financial institutions are struggling with their positioning in a completely new ecosystem.”
Although the CFO has noticed that banks are switching from being pure service providers to advisors. Arnout Wouters: “They are doing their best to proactively provide us with investment solutions that match the social role that we play at our college. For example, they don’t offer us risky investment opportunities, but valuable alternatives that focus on sustainability and CSR.
Another new trend is that as semi-governmental institutions, a number of major players in the education sector issue bonds themselves to raise some of the funds they need. In that respect, the traditional conservative reputation of the education sector certainly gives us an advantage. We have a reputation of being very careful in our decisions. That guarantees us an interesting profile for potential investors.”
Download the trend report ‘Finance beyond the figures’.
Isabel 6 spoke with 7 other top CFOs. Are you curious to find out how their field is transforming and how they view the future? We have brought together their findings and future visions in five cross-sector trends.
Erasmus College Brussels