Roland Stähli: Leading with Enduring Resilience towards Success

Roland Stähli | WebAccountPlus: Leading with Enduring Resilience | The Enterprise World

While various industries are evolving with time, the significance of visionary leaders has never been more pronounced. These leaders are not just the heads of their organizations but also the architects of transformation who navigate through complexities and propel their companies toward the path of success. Such kind of leadership is rare and possesses invaluable qualities. Roland Stähli (Chairman & CEO of WebAccountPlus) emerges as one of those leaders who stands as a beacon of inspiration and accomplishments in the business landscape. He is one of the “Most Successful Business Leaders to Watch in 2023.” Let’s delve into his remarkable journey in the business world.

Stepping Ahead with the First Step

Roland Stähli faced various challenges in his career, and some of them inspired him to start his own company. From 2010 to 2014, he had a mandate with a bank in South Africa. They were rolling out a treasury system from Johannesburg to 17 other African countries. Even then, he came into contact with many local entrepreneurs. Though they were talented and had capital, they had no idea about accounting and business management. Therefore, they couldn’t secure funding from a bank without clean financial figures or a business plan. They had to finance themselves at a premium of up to 20% with private investors.

Back in Switzerland, Roland Stähli had a mandate with a larger bank  on the subject of SME cockpits. There, he met Patrick Schöni (Co-founder). Together, they drew up a concept of how the corporate client business should be restructured. Even then, it was clear that without data, there would be no evaluations and services. In countless workshops with SMEs, their needs were evaluated and taken into account. In addition, they started communicating with startups. One potential provider had accounting software, another offered liquidity planning, the third offered CRM, etc.

The goal from the bank’s point of view was to offer the customer added value in the banking world, especially in terms of advisory. In addition, the bank was looking for a solution to the time-consuming annual credit monitoring (i.e., reviewing the annual financial statements and business developments). The original concept was taken to the board of directors and management. Implementation alone would have cost tens of millions of USD – not including maintenance costs, etc. In the end, the project was only implemented in parts.

Importance of Having a Vision

Along with Patrick, Roland Stähli set the goal of looking at the entire challenge of digitizing the corporate world – with all stakeholders across virtually all disciplines, including banks, insurance companies, ERP manufacturers, SMEs, businesses, and politics. According to Roland Stähli, “If you have visions, the more difficult the problem is and the more sophisticated knowledge is required, you are usually not understood at all. Or one is not taken seriously, smiled at, and, in the worst case, portrayed as a crank.

Even when the finished product is on the table, one is gazed at with disbelieving eyes and then doubts are cast again by certain people. Can this be sold? Does it work at all with many customers? That is the biggest incentive for us.”

Starting from scratch, many entrepreneurs lack startup capital. They have to earn money themselves. They need to convince investors of the vision and find the motivation to do several other things when they have less ideas of how they will work out. To convince the group of investors, any entrepreneur has to take the risk. For Roland Stähli, explaining to them that the lean startup concept was out of the question as the project was too big, and investors wouldn’t have understood it or would have dismissed it. Moreover, there is a possibility of self-doubt as well. Very few people can understand that throwing the long-term goal of becoming an entrepreneur into one project can be a life-changing decision.

Involving Partners in Important Decisions

Many managers bear ZERO personal risk and receive massive compensation from their employers every year. The social problem is that the livelihood of many employees is at stake when wrong decisions are made, yet they still get paid. Roland Stähli and his team needed 4-5 years of lead time before they even started the company. Today, Roland Stähli proudly says, “Our platform and the business concept have nothing in common with the original concept, especially about the range of functions. And the first pilot customers are already successfully in production.”

When asked about the management philosophy, Roland Stähli ensures that it gets reflected in his company. He has a special company construct. The holding company delivers the SaaS and consists primarily of partners and shareholders who work through an ownership model. Owners and employees think in different ways and share a different set of problems. Therefore, partners should be involved in important decisions. When everyone knows their roles and competencies, it works perfectly.

The development team works offshore on a contract basis, and the operational subsidiaries are largely operated by local partners. From the holding company, WebAccountPlus ensures that the local employees are continuously trained – regardless of the country – and work the same way, similar to McDonald’s higher-level automation and standartization.

Quality before Profitability

To balance the need to innovate and take risks to maintain stability and profitability, WebAccountPlus’s team represents itself to build a holistic ecosystem as well as the Digital Corporate Advisor. The organization works cost-effectively, partly with a low-code platform developed by its partners and shareholders. As quality comes before profitability, WebAccountPlus has not been involved in venture capital funds for a long time. Soon, it will be the harvest time for the company. It first built its MVP, and  is currently with it in the pilot phase, and from November on, it will have the USP components ready in production. The company has a clear strategy for sales.

Roland Stähli considers the good thing is to have incredibly concentrated expertise (and IT competence) across practically all generations. Being confident about what he is doing, Roland Stähli monitors the market, exchanges ideas with professionals, and hedges bets. He is honored to have the world’s first and unique Digital Corporate Advisor paired with AI. It works extensively when a company brings all its data to the cloud.

It starts with the digital mailbox, automated accounting, expense management, multi-banking, CRM, HR, analytics, portfolio management system, real-time calculations of relevant KPIs, and their evaluation to form the data basis for digital advisory. Therefore, the organization offers all-inclusive packages through the subsidiaries and partner accounting companies.

The customer receives the entire software, including accounting service and closing, for a fixed monthly price. Since the accounting is done by professionals and the invoices land directly in the customer’s digital mailbox via the scanning center, the company has also verified data in real-time. This ensures that the evaluated data and recommendations are also correct.

Providing the Digital Corporate Advisor

WebAccountPlus has the KPIs from all possible disciplines and it recognizes when stock needs to be increased, new employees should be hired, and the purchase of goods should be improved in comparison with competitors. It knows when sales activities need to be optimized, an investment product should be subscribed to, or the company will soon have a liquidity shortage.

The unique complete digitalization saves the customer up to 80% of administrational workload. The customer does not  need to know anything about accounting or business management. WebAccountPlus provides the Digital Corporate Advisor (AI Advisory for companies), which gives business owners ongoing instructions. As a further complement, the client should conduct a strategy survey together with the bank advisor on the tool. The organization has automatic monitoring in case of missed targets, etc. The software comes from the partner ESM Software in the U.S.A. The founders are also the inventors of the Balanced Scorecard.

In the future, SMEs will be able to place their procurement or offer requests (purchasing goods, searching for new employees, investment or financing products such as operating credits, loans, factoring, etc.) directly and anonymously via a matching platform including the relevant KPIs. Now, suitable products can be offered on the other side. The customer receives an alert – then they can accept the offer, and the contract (e.g. smart contract) can then be concluded immediately via the platform.

It will be the Open Corporateplatform in the future, and SMEs will decide who they want to work with and get influenced on pricing. The more data is available to a service provider, the more favorably it receives the service. SMEs save the provider a great deal of work, and the financial service provider is relieved of business risks.

Deciding Critical Benchmarks

A bank or an insurance company can license the Rules Engine for the Digital Corporate Advisorand deposit all their products for corporate clients there. With a sophisticated system, critical benchmarks are recognized, and the products the bank would otherwise only generally recommend are now offered directly to the customer using AI. The same applies to automated credit monitoring or instant credit. A decision can be made within seconds.

In business banking, the bank can concentrate fully on its core business – providing advice and support. Costs for lead generation, sales, and credit monitoring are massively reduced – new revenues are generated through highly professional consulting. In addition, the credit default risk is also reduced.

Similarly, the Digital Corporate Advisor detects if a company is underinsured or if it pays too much in premiums. Imagine if an insurance company can generate an automated and needs-based proposal for a specific insurance to an SME. The insurance company saves acquisition costs – and the business owner has access to any insurance.

Staying Ahead of Time

Roland Stähli is determined to take his company one step further as it is extremely well connected to the fintech world. Being an advisor to the UN, White House, and World Bank, Chris Skinner is one of the top influencers in FinTech and also a great speaker at the WEF. As a business advisor and shareholder, he naturally supports new trends. WebAccountPlus is years ahead with its solution and thinking – and it wants to keep it that way.

Being internationally focused, WebAccountPlus is in the middle of entering the market and has extensive business in the home market in Switzerland. Two years ago, the organization was founded after many years of preliminary work. The capital was invested mainly in software development, and currently, more than 30 pure software developers are working full-time in Slovakia along with other software partners from Switzerland, the U.S.A., Singapore, and India. Moreover, business decision, specifications and market analysis are established by its  core team in  Switzerland.

Implementing Country-Specific Requirements

The team is complemented by other shareholders and business advisors – e.g. Chris Skinner. New additions are Dr. Michael Völter, former Group CEO of the Stuttgart Stock Exchange, and Professor Sandra Comas, who is an authority in business administration and digitalization and delivers lectures at Brown University and in Spain with young entrepreneurs.

The holding company provides its future subsidiaries and franchising partners with all software and services in the cloud. The partners each act as accounting factories from any country. The architecture of the company is designed to implement country-specific requirements within 3 months. It is looking for partners in all regions of the world and is consistently implementing the concept.

Recognizing all Preconfigured Versatile Needs

Being the first Digital Corporate Advisorwith AI in use, the company recognizes all preconfigured versatile needs tailored to the corresponding customer segment and suggests immediate recommendations for actions in real time. This service can be used by the company itself and by a bank or insurance company for monitoring and quoting purposes.

Additionally, the company has a high-quality integrated performance management tool – tailored for smaller companies. It was previously impossible for a smaller company to use such a tool due to cost reasons. Such tools are normally used by companies with 1000 or more employees.

The complete package of software components at an unbeatable price is only available if either a professional accounting firm is involved or a larger company itself has an accounting department and a CFO. In addition to the accounting system, licensed by the accountant, it includes the digital mailbox, CRM, expense management, HR, portfolio management system, automated accounting, analytics, and multi-banking.

The new Open Corporatemodel enables further market participants to access all company data the company allows them to see, and they can offer their products according to their needs. Therefore, the customer pays for the accounting services for a very small surcharge and receives the complete software plus all-around consulting.

Making the Office Work Much Easier for Entrepreneurs

Staying committed to sustainability, WebAccountPlus makes office work much easier for entrepreneurs and service providers by reducing paper consumption by 80%. The entrepreneur does not need to know anything about accounting or business management and can concentrate fully on his core business. This also has an impact on the educational concept. A service provider improves its offerings and also becomes operationally incredibly efficient.

The SME is strengthened in the medium term by the numerous support provided by digital assistants – errors are identified and improvement measures are taken. It increases its profit in the medium term. Individual countries and continents in turn benefit from strong SMEs, thus new, higher-quality jobs are created. A government gets anonymized access to microeconomic data – these can be important leading indicators, for example, to avert a recession, etc.

Economic aid from the UN or the World Bank can even be effectively placed in individual regions on a sector-specific basis to strengthen those selectively – and not simply fund somewhere in a “watering can approach.” The more data the company has and the more countries it serves with partners, the more sustainably the entire world can be helped.

According to Roland Stähli, “With the help of governments, we could help countries that have been disadvantaged up to now to become fully digitized – that is our social contribution to the world. This will only succeed if we can convince as many decision-makers as possible, including politicians, of our great vision.”

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