Focus on the top line: it's the best way to keep profits under control if spending increases.
It was a hot and sunny Wednesday when we reached the energetic financial expert Aki Karppinen from Balanco's office, right next to Aviapolis Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Balanco serves about 120 customers in Finland and Sweden.
Aki has been working all spring in Spain and has just arrived from his family’s road trip to Finland across the Iberian Peninsula, through France and the Italian Riviera, over the Alps, and through Germany.
"Ukrainian flags were flying across Europe and Europe was showing very unified. The energy prices, however, are affecting the purchasing power of the households in Spain, Germany, and Finland differently." tells Aki.
How is Europe doing from the Spain perspective?
"Compared to Finland, most governments in Europe are supporting the transport sector much more, and Finland seems to have the highest price of gasoline in the EU. The price of gasoline is close to 2 euros per liter in Spain and even in Germany. In the spring, when the price of gasoline temporarily rose, the Spanish government decided to push it down, and it started to support gas stations directly, which turned the price of gasoline to the south again." tells Aki.
The increased fuel prices have increased major protest and strike activity in Spain. Containers were packed in ports, factories and construction sites came to a standstill and supermarkets saw empty shelves. In the end, the government agreed on a 16 billion euros support package for the transport sector, agriculture, industry, and households.
"When the war started and the price of energy rose, the fishermen were the first
in Spain who started a strike due to higher fuel prices. When local supermarkets ran out of fish and seafood, the Spanish government agreed on a support package for the fishing industry." Aki recalls. "In the spring, our electricity bill in Spain went up from 80 euros to 350 euros. When the prices went up, the state agreed on a support package for households' by paying part of the electricity bills directly to the electricity suppliers."
In Finland, the parliament has now approved the government's proposal for a fixed-term
fuel support package for the transport sector. The support will apply to personal transport by road goods transport and taxi traffic. The Ministry of Labor and the Economy will inform
more precisely about the fuel subsidy closer to September 1, 2022. There has been a lot of talk about stagflation now. What concrete advice would you give to an entrepreneur to keep spending on control?
"Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to follow up on global financial markets and news. I don't remember such a series of severe changes ever happening during my working life." Aki tells us. "So many unexpected things can change now the entrepreneurs' life and the bottom line. A close profitability followup, therefore, plays a completely different role today."
"Focus on the top line: it's always the best way to keep profit in control when spending increases. It’s also useful to create risk scenarios and make plans A, B, and maybe C for how to compensate for the reduced profits. Also, the shorter budgeting period helps to get prepared and to react instantly, if needed." Aki explains.
"Depending on the industry, contracts play now a crucial role now. Price clauses, especially in the new deals, are important as they keep your margins in control if the prices of raw materials and subcontracting go to North. If you’re negotiating a long-term customer contract, it’s good to hire an external contract law expert. Even intra-day changes in raw material prices can be rapid now." tells Aki.
"Today, many industries face a shortage of skilled workers, and it is really difficult to hire people. That’s why I think it’s very important to pay attention to the employer's brand, where the company's values play an important role."
What does a financial expert do?
"The entrepreneur’s daily life is risk-taking and lonely decision-making. The role of a financial expert is to be a sparring partner for both the business and financials, especially today now when the global economy is in transition." Aki tells us.
"My working days consist of various business development projects with our customers: sometimes I focus more on the ad hoc -assignments, but most of my working time I’m focusing on the agreed weekly, monthly or quarterly financial reporting and planning." describes Aki. "Due to recent economic events, financial decision-makers have now to predict and make cash flow and resource allocation decisions even faster. At the same time, the role of Balanco's financial experts has become more and more to view of future risks".
You can contact Aki here if you need a financial professional as a partner.
Balanco is an accounting firm whose operations are guided by customer understanding and the customers' business support. The Finnish offices are located in Vantaa, Helsinki, Oulu, and In Lahti. The Swedish offices are located in Stockholm, Sollentuna, Södertälje, and Visby. The environment is changing rapidly right now. If you need to make better decisions faster, we’d love to serve you - fast.
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