Opinion

How to spend your Leap Day's extra 24 hours

Pranav Sood, Executive General Manager EMEA at global financial platform Airwallex, suggest a deep financial review
By
Pranav Sood
Leap Year calendar entry

Today is the first February 29th in four years - a leap day. Yes it’s a fun gimmick and those that are born today can claim to be ‘technically’ four times younger than they actually are, but besides that, it’s just another working day right? How much use realistically is an extra 24 hours for businesses? The answer, as it turns out, is a lot. 

While a single day might seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, the reality is very different and history has proven time and time again that some of the most important ideas in the world have formed incredibly quickly. From the invention of essential tech like the telephone or microwave oven, right through to the humble chocolate chip cookie, there are reminders all around us that time, no matter how brief, holds immense potential. For those who prioritise innovation, one additional day provides a significant opportunity.

Of course, I’ve cherry-picked my examples there, but the point stands strong. For those who are smart about how they use it, an additional day holds great value. So how do you go about making the most out of this additional day? Obviously, not everybody is busy working on ground breaking inventions, so for those working in the financial space, here are the prompts I think you should be asking yourself to maximise this extra 24 hours. 

1: Is my business really set up to operate globally? 

The truth for many businesses in EMEA is that serving an international audience is a necessity in order to scale. Therefore the first question to ponder is whether your business is genuinely equipped to operate on a global scale. Many claim to be - but put it this way, if I said to you “Can you operate in, say, Spain, within the next two months?” Would you be able to? If the answer is no, it's crucial to identify the barriers. Is it regulatory red tape, cultural misunderstandings, payment issues or perhaps a lack of market knowledge? Or all of the above? 

The leap year day could be the perfect time to take a look at these hurdles and ensure that some of the building blocks to operate internationally are considered. Use this time to research new markets, understand compliance requirements, or establish connections with international partners - or find a partner who can help you do just this. Remember, global expansion doesn't just mean reaching new customers; it's also about tapping into a world of diverse talent and ideas.

2: Is my financial function built for the AI age? 

It’s no secret that AI is transforming the financial landscape. If your financial function isn't built for the AI age, now is the time to prepare because things are moving extremely quickly, and you’ll soon get left behind. AI can automate routine tasks, provide predictive analytics, and enhance decision-making. There are already impressive AI tools that are transforming the financial functions of businesses, no matter their size or sector. 

Use the extra day to explore AI-driven financial tools that can provide deeper insights into your cash flow, optimise your budget, enhance your KYC and AML functions, and forecast financial trends. Training your team to work alongside AI will ensure that your business remains competitive and innovative.

3: With financial fraud on the rise, how do I protect my business and our customers?

Going hand in hand with AI development, sadly comes a likely increase in financial fraud. Fraud is on the rise across Europe, and businesses are struggling to protect both themselves and their customers. 

The leap year day could be dedicated to reviewing and strengthening your security measures. Are your systems up to date with the latest security protocols? Have you implemented multi-factor authentication and continuous monitoring? Have you got real-time fraud protection? Educate your team about the latest fraud tactics and ensure that everyone is vigilant. A robust defense is not just about the technology you use within your business; it's about creating a culture of security within your organisation. 

4: Is there a better way for me and my team to move money? 

Efficient money management is the lifeblood of any business. On this extra day, a short evaluation of your current processes for moving and managing funds is a particularly effective use of time. Are there simpler, quicker and cheaper methods available?  

With fintech innovations, businesses can now benefit from streamlined international transfers, currency risk management, and simplified payment processes. Consider platforms that offer real-time tracking and lower transaction fees. 

5: Do I actually have full oversight of what’s going on financially at my business?  

Finally, consider whether you have full oversight of your corporate spending. In today's fast-paced business environment, having real-time updates on capital inflows and outflows is essential - and becomes increasingly difficult the larger your business gets. Use the additional day to explore financial platforms that offer consolidated views of your finances, automate expense tracking, and provide actionable insights. Simplifying the way you manage corporate spending can lead to better-informed decisions and a lot of time saved. 

There’s a lot to consider there across those five questions, I know. However, they are all critical points to address, central to the long-term health and success of your business. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Indeed, there are global businesses that can help you answer all these questions and more. So, as we gain an extra 24 hours today, let's make every hour count.