23 Apr FLOOR TO OUR MERCHANTS: HERA
Roberto Rossetti, DCAFC – Finanza
Finance Manager at HERA S.p.A.
Hi Roberto, what’s the general feeling at Hera? And how “digital” are you?
The world of utilities is subject to so many clichés, isn’t it? Sometimes we only focus on the tip of the iceberg, however when we take a deeper look at it we literally get amazed by all the technology used in the industry. Hera is a particularly dynamic company, which -since the very beginning- placed a significant emphasis on innovation, making innovation part of its own “DNA”. Not only we aim at being the top Italian multi-utility company serving its customers, team members and shareholders in the best possible ways: we also aim at achieving this by developing an outstanding environmentally friendly business model capable of innovation and territorial anchoring at the same time. I would say that digitalization is one of the essential pillars of our everyday life, as well as at industrial level: at Hera, our offer ranges from e-mobility and the development of smartcities and smartgrids, to different mobile apps available to the group’s customers (MyHera, Acquologo, Rifiutologo, etc.).
Let’s share some key figures: what was Hera’s turn over last year?
Hera closed the 2018 financial year with an increase of 8% in sales, up to 6,626 Eur/mln.
In recent years, online payment tools have increasingly gained relevance and, in the context of industry events, were said to have become important touch points in the purchasing process. What range of solutions do you offer?
Hera has its own omnichannel approach and offers a range of payment methods in both physical and digital context. The main idea is to offer customers several user-frendly solutions also when it comes to the payment process. In particular, on our digital and mobile channels new smart payment methods have been implemented. Among the digital bank-based payments (IBAN Based) solutions such as Click & Pay, CBILL, the Virtual Account (UniCredit), MyBank and Jiffy (Bancomat Pay) were introduced. Among the payment wallets based on credit cards (Card based) Masterpass, Amazon Pay and Apple Pay were added to the offer.
When I talked with some of your colleagues, they mentioned that at Hera a constant effort is made to identify new innovative payment methods to offer. What is the reason behind such a wide range of payment options?
Let’s say that on one hand, after some relatively calm years, the payment market is seeing a new dawn in terms of technology, offers and solutions. On the other hand, the end customer is becoming increasingly demanding, aware and able to choose the best payment method based on the type of user experience, times and costs that he/she needs. In particular, «Y» and «Z» generations (i.e. digital natives) are increasingly connected, disruptive, and have a completely new approach when it comes to spending money and consuming goods and services. Today, a multi-utility company cannot afford to stick to old schemes and has to implement innovation also with regards to payment options.
What are the features you look at and what criteria do you use to evaluate a new payment solution to be offered to your customers ?
We look at different factors, from the potential tool penetration to the tool-customer base fit, as well as to the costs for the company in terms of errand services and implementation. I believe that user experience, time and costs are the elements that do count from the customer’s point of view. Potentially the end-to-end payment process should not last more than ten seconds and should have no costs or fees for the customer.
Hera bills can also be paid with MyBank. Who are MyBank users and what are the benefits for them?
MyBank solution is used by both our retail and corporate customers, as an alternative to credit cards. Thanks to MyBank, Hera group customers can easily pay their bills with SEPA transfers via their usual online banking system. From the Hera customer service web page or from mobile with the MyHera app, at the time of payment, customers will be directly taken to their online or mobile banking portal where the preset transfer containing all payment details to Hera will be found for approval. MyBank guarantees the real-time confirmation of payment to Hera customers and the speeding up of 100% automatic reconciliation processes as well as further reduction of fraud risk.
Typically, Finance and Marketing have a very different approach. Finance teams dealing with budget issues feature a much more rational attitude compared to creative marketers. Yet, treasurers, CFOs, finance managers are starting to attend conferences related to e-Commerce and Communication. Are these two worlds contaminating each other?
All professional worlds are getting contaminated, this phenomenon does not limit itself to finance and e-commerce or marketing. Personally, I am convinced that technology and digitalization are changing many rules of the game. In companies, more and more cross-functional teams, smart processes, lean and fast structures are needed. The skills, increasingly subject to a brief obsolescence, become more horizontal, or rather in the shape of a “T”. On the one hand, vertical skills are important, but they must be made available in the context of an organization or process and, therefore, in “horizontal”.
Let’s take a step back. What does a Finance Manager do?
The role of a Finance Manager is multi-tasking. Funding certainly is one of the main interest areas, with the objective to ensure the medium-long term financial needs of the company, through the search for competitive financing tools in terms of duration, cost and size. Without adequate funding planning, medium-term decisions cannot be taken. Another area of focus and analysis for the Finance Manager is that of payments and collections: the area that I personally define the “efficient logistics” of cash flows. As previously mentioned, at Hera we try to understand if we can improve tools, processes and systems to support the company’s active and passive cycle.
The ultimate dream for a Communication Manager or an Advertising professional is to find the right, powerful message that resonates with their audience. What does a Finance Manager dream about?
Rather than a dream, I would say that the Finance Manager has a mantra: to live everyday life to the fullest, to look at the future with confidence and optimism, no matter the situation. That is, a finance manager should ensure that the company always has adequate financial resources to face any medium and long term scenarios in order to manage both ordinary business investments and new acquisitions. In light of the financial and banking market abrupt changes and considering all the different strategic choices that a company has to make, a Finance Manager has new challenges to face every day.
How do you manage to stay up-to-date in your field?
I combine different sources and information channels, making use of both digital and analog. I definitely look at the content rather than at the ‘container’. So, I look at newspapers and trade magazines as well as at ebooks or social networks, with particular reference to Linkedin. For several years, I have also been attending webinars about digital innovation on the professional platform of an important Italian university. I find it an efficient and sustainable method as it allows you to learn new skills without leaving the office or your home. However, audiobooks have recently become my preferred option: headphones let you listen to them anywhere, so you can access interesting, relevant content whenever you go.
23 Apr 2019