Interview with Rudi Van Boven, CFO Securitas Belgium and Luxembourg.
The Swedish security group Securitas has undergone a true transformation in recent years. Four separate independently operating business units were combined into one centrally managed organization in Belgium with the customer at the center. This also caused a revolution in finance, but according to CFO Rudi Van Boven it is the only way to retain its relevance as a finance team.
This blog is part of the ‘Finance beyond the figures’ Trend Report.
Rudi Van Boven, CFO Securitas Belgium and Luxembourg: “We try to design an end-to-end process for every security solution, from purchasing to implementation. In so doing, we focus very sharply on digital transformation, operational excellence and synergies between people and technology. “The new organization ensures that traditional silo mentality gradually makes room for a transversal approach and collaboration across all levels. Rudi Van Boven: “In the past, our finance experts worked within one specific business unit and they all had roughly the same duties. Today we work with expert roles. Within the value chain, we define and isolate themes that are always followed up by one single person.”
Agile and proactive
“One of our new controllers comes from one of our business branches. It is the only way to get really close to our operations and to be agile and proactive.”
This entails a need for new skills in the teams that also include the finance divisions. Rudi Van Boven: “One of our new controllers, for example, comes from one of our business branches. He knows all the internal processes and the important levers that lead to optimization, but he is not a finance specialist. That is why we are now training him in financial reporting. This may seem a bit topsy-turvy, but it is the only way to get really close to our operations and to be agile and proactive.”
“We go to our bank for project financing, national and international bank guarantees and risk management,” the CFO continues. “In other words: the added value our finance partners bring is not just the speedy processing of transactions, but also the provision of targeted advice, customization and thinking alongside us on optimizations that reflect our strategy. Speed of payment is of course also crucial when it comes to optimizing our daily cash flows, both for Securitas Belgium and for the Securitas group. As an additional service for our customers, we look at how we can use fintech applications for safe and convenient payments. For certain groups of customers, we offer a smartphone app that they can use for this purpose.”
“Our aim is to automate data input and analysis and then use self-learning algorithms.”
The various end-to-end processes conceal a treasure trove of data about sales, operations, finance, etc. The aim is to link all that data from different databases and to extract insights from it. Today part of this is carried out automatically, part manually. But our aim is to automate data input and analysis and then use self-learning algorithms. Rudi Van Boven: “This is already being applied in the field. Our agents have an app with which they can register every so-called event or incident. In addition, a great deal of data and information is registered automatically via incoming calls in our control room for instance. Technological security solutions such as smart cameras are also gaining in importance. By using all that data predictively, we can offer our customers a great deal of added value.”
But smart data management also offers a great many new opportunities internally. Rudi Van Boven: “It will be much easier to do financial forecasting over a longer period and to adjust our course in a targeted manner. Every operational decision, no matter how small, has a financial impact.”
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Rudi Van Boven