New! Bill Pay and Reimbursements

Float is proud to announce two new solutions: Float Bill Pay and Float Reimbursements. 

These additions make Float the first business finance platform in Canada designed to offer an end-to-end solution that simplifies all non-payroll spending, driving up to 7% savings on corporate spend for Canadian companies and teams by offering 1% cashback, 4% yield on deposits, eliminating FX fees, and helping employees save up to 20 hrs per month on manual expense submissions.

“Four years ago, we embarked on a mission to revolutionize corporate spending in Canada,” said Rob Khazzam, CEO and Co-Founder of Float. “We noticed a significant gap in the market – Canadian businesses were either forced to rely on international solutions that weren’t localized for Canada or settle for outdated local options. Today, we are proud to introduce Float Bill Pay and Float Reimbursements, designed specifically for Canadian finance teams.”

Float’s business finance platform is the only solution in Canada to integrate reimbursements, corporate cards, a credit facility and bill payments — including bank, EFT, wire, and ACH payments — into a single, streamlined platform. This consolidation allows businesses to manage all their spending in one place, eliminating the inefficiencies and frustrations associated with fragmented systems.

“It’s amazing to see how Float has grown from offering smart corporate cards to becoming an entire payment processing platform with its new addition, Bill Pay. They’ve listened to the needs of their target market and delivered an all-encompassing tool, which allows for greater visibility into cash expenditures. In a world where software is becoming more specific and less of a one-stop shop, having a centralized platform for all our accounts payable needs means one less software to manage and more time for meaningful work.”

Eleni Kasimos, Director of Finance at CPA education platform LumiQ

New Angus Reid Group survey data reveals the productivity challenges Canadians are facing when it comes to managing their corporate expenses and payroll. In a survey of 200 Canadian finance leaders:

  • 71% said that expense reporting needs to be more efficient
  • 69% feel that processing and paying vendor invoices needs to be more efficient
  • 56% spend 1-7 days per week processing invoices, with 18% 4-7 days per week

Key features of Bill Pay and Reimbursements include:

  • Robust and Fast Bill Intake Process: Utilizing advanced OCR and AI technologies, Bill Pay extracts relevant information from bills, significantly reducing manual data entry and streamlining the process.
  • Automated Approval Policies and Workflows: These features ensure bills are managed efficiently, freeing finance teams from manual oversight.
  • Embedded EFT, ACH, and Wire Payments: Bill Pay supports payments in both CAD and USD directly from the platform, eliminating the need for outdated bank account management.
  • Seamless Reconciliation: Bill Pay integrates smoothly with QuickBooks Online (QBO), Xero, and Float, ensuring accurate and effortless reconciliation.
  • Reimbursements: Eliminate manual expense reports, keep all company spending in one platform, and speed up approvals and payouts

These innovations highlight Float’s commitment to addressing the specific needs of Canadian SMBs and enhancing the efficiency of their financial operations. As Canadian businesses adopt these new tools, they can look forward to more efficient operations, reduced administrative burdens, and a unified approach to managing non-payroll expenses. Companies can sign up for early access at www.floatcard.com/bill-pay

Accounting Automations for Canadian Finance Teams

While the days of the ledger book, and hand recording of sales and expenses are long gone, companies still need to have a 360 view of their accounting. With accounting automation, finance teams can use software solutions to accurately and quick complete tasks that otherwise would take hours or days every month.
 

Manual Accounting vs. Accounting Automation

With traditional accounting, many tasks are still manually completed. Data is still entered by a person on the finance team. Bank statements are still reconciled manually. Even suppliers are paid one at a time as they send invoices, and wait for the payment to be issued.

With the help of software solutions, accounting automation replaces those time-consuming activities, and allows finance teams more time to work on tasks that move the business forward.

Drawbacks of Manual Accounting

While the time it takes to keep the books up-to-date is often the biggest drawback of manual accounting, there are other disadvantages that many business owners should consider.

Higher Potential for Errors

When you have a stack of invoices to enter, it’s hard to get every detail exactly correct, every time. You might get interrupted by a phone call and miss a line, or you might not notice that the disbursement item was non-taxable. Did this invoice charge GST, HST or QST? Even the most diligent team member will transpose numbers or choose the wrong GL account.

Time Required

Manual accounting tasks take up valuable time that could be used for higher-value work. Think about your highly trained finance team – would you rather have them manually code individual transactions or focus on more strategic projects, like implementing a new ERP system or bringing payroll in-house?

Not only do the individual transactions take longer to manually enter, but the reconciliation process is often quite painful. 

How do you compare and verify the completeness of two sets of transactions? If it’s a set of books and the bank statement, it’s often an exercise in “ticking and tying”, sometimes with printed copies and multiple colours of highlighters. 

Obtaining and documenting approvals is another time-consuming process, especially as most non-finance folks don’t feel the urgency of month-end the same way the finance team does. Multiple manual reminders are common, and sometimes reminders are sent after the approval or support was obtained – the records just weren’t updated, or it wasn’t saved in the right spot yet.

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What CFOs and Controllers Look for In Accounting Automation Software

As a finance team leader, finding ways to address some of the common concerns around cash flow, business growth, and profitability is a constant consideration. Accounting automation can solve for many common accounting activities, and address many of the concerns around time, errors, and security. It can also free up time for more valuable activities.

General Ledger Automations

General ledger accounting software easily aggregates financial data across different lines of business, and allows companies to structure business transactions and data to generate financial reports. Some modern general ledger accounting software options include automations for the following:

– setting pre-defined GL accounts for certain vendors instead of trying to remember or checking the process documentation each time to confirm

– connections to live bank feeds to reconcile throughout the month instead of waiting for the formal statement

– setting pre-defined rules for common bank transactions instead of manually creating a journal entry for the bank charges every month

Payroll and Employee Expense Reconciliation

Payroll software easily calculates wages, taxes and generates reports, but often there are still many manual inputs. Some modern payroll software options include automations for the following:

– onboarding paperwork that can be securely completed by the new employee and flow into the database, instead of manual data entry

– time off requests automatically routed to the appropriate parties for approval and vacation days automatically connected to payroll processing, instead of forgetting to forward the email chain or update the excel tracker

– direct integration with your accounting software OR templates to create custom journal entries that you can easily export and import into your general ledger system

Employee Expense Reimbursement

Ensuring your employees get paid, and their expenses reimbursed quickly, can be a lot of work. There is typically at least some confusion about how to fill out the expense report, what codes to use, and the receipt submission process often involves reminders and a lot of follow-ups. Then expense reports need to get approved (sometimes by more than one person) and submitted for payment processing. 

Modern employee expense options use accounting automation to make this process efficient and easy, saving time and money, and giving employees a much better experience than filling out dreaded expense reports. 

Employee expense accounting automations can include:

– pre-defined rules or limited options for employee expense codes to minimize or eliminate the need for non-finance team members to choose a GL account

– the ability to process individual transactions in real-time, instead of waiting for a time-consuming (and often-late) monthly expense reports

– automatically routing expenses for review and approval (some systems accommodate complex policies)

– automatically send out requests and reminders for receipt submission

Accounts Receivable and Payable

Even if your accounting records are paperless, they might still be difficult to access. What was the filename? Which folder is it in?

Modern accounting automation tools store data in the cloud, often attached directly to the related transaction, usually with generous storage limits (or no limits at all). 

Cloud-based document storage facilities give you:

– data at your fingertips when analyzing financial statements. Many general ledger systems have drill-down capabilities where you can click through right to the original supporting document to confirm something is in the right place

– easy auditor access. Instead of pulling invoices and receipts when the auditors provides you with their sample list, give them read-only access to your cloud-based systems and let them find the information for themselves

– maintaining records as required by Canada Revenue Agency

Cash is king, and anything that adds time to the Accounts Receivable process can impact critical cash flows. Modern accounting automation options for Accounts Receivable include:

– scheduled and recurring invoices for predictable revenues

– automated statements or overdue invoice reminders sent to clients

– integrated payment links to make it easier for customers to make payments

Successful businesses need to pay invoices on time and on budget. Modern accounting automation options for Accounts Payable include

– automatic routing of invoices for approval

– pre-defined GL codes for specific vendors

– automatic reconciliation with online payment providers instead of making the payment and separately needing to record the payment

– automatic comparison to budget and purchase order if applicable

How Float Automates Your Accounting

Float’s business finance platform adds significant automation to employee expense and accounts payable processes, along with additional unique features. 

Capture receipts automatically

No more chasing employees for receipts! When you swipe a Float card, cardholders get prompted to submit their receipt via our mobile app, text or email. Finance teams can even set up rules to auto-pause cards when someone is not compliant. Once you try it, you will never go back to manual receipt collection.

Assign Corporate Cards to The Correct GL Account

When you issue a virtual or physical corporate card through Float, you’re able to automatically pre-program the specific GL accounts that card will be assigned to be able to spend from. This means that your finance team won’t need to spend hours chasing down expense reports and issuing payments – the spend will automatically be recorded in the correct account.

Create Vendor Management Rules

Similar to pre-programming specific GL accounts and making rules for employee expenses, you can do the same for merchants. Assigning each of your vendors rules around what GL amount expenses are pulled from, and assigning spend limits to each vendor allows you to stay on top of your suppliers. By automating vendor management, Float helps ensure you’ll never be overcharged, or overwhelmed, with vendor expenses again.

Purchases That Make Sense

As employees use Float cards, they have the option of adding a description that provides context for their purchase. While Float does have the option of pre-defining rules for employee spend management, allowing additional context for each expense helps teams better streamline their pre-approved expense list, and ensures that each purchase is relevant to the business.

Approve spend before it happens

Not only that, teams are also able to automate approval processes. Why is this important? Let’s say that an employee needs a card limit increase to make a larger purchase, or they’re travelling and need a little additional room to spend temporarily.

Instead of needing to wait for the person who holds the corporate card to provide the number, or for the bank to approve a credit limit increase on their own corporate card, a pre-defined approval process can provide that increase in near real time.

Employees can keep spending where they need to spend, without any unnecessary delays to your business.

Integrate with accounting and HRIS platforms

Float also integrates with a number of Canadian accounting automation software solutions including Netsuite, Xero and Quickbooks to help you close the books faster. Our HRIS integration simplifies onboarding and offboarding employees as people join and leave your company.

Adopting accounting automation solutions offers so many benefits to CFO, controllers, finance teams, and bookkeepers and accountants. Choosing an accounting automation solution for your business may take a little time as you consider the needs of your business, but that time will pay off in the long run.

Float secures C$50 million in financing to accelerate growth  

Toronto, Ontario, February 13, 2024 – Float, one of Canada’s fastest growing fintechs, has kicked off 2024 with an aggressive expansion plan and the backing of a C$50 million credit facility in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a division of First Citizens Bank.  

Under the terms of the deal, Float CEO Rob Khazzam confirms the company has access to C$50 million to expand its innovative Charge Card program, which achieved nearly 300% YOY payment volume growth in 2023. This growth has been fueled by Float’s expansion of its business finance platform to serve midmarket Canadian companies across industry sectors including technology, media, manufacturing and CPG, reinforcing its position as a challenger to traditional financial institutions.

Milestone Deal Enables Accelerated Expansion  

“At a time when other financial institutions are pulling back on serving Canadian SMBs, our partnership with SVB is a powerful reflection of the strength of Float’s vision, strategic direction and hyper-growth in 2023,” explains Khazzam, adding that the milestone deal required a partner with deep tech roots and experience with companies on a fast scaling trajectory.  

“Float is challenging the status quo when it comes to providing payment solutions for Canadian companies and teams. Our strong partnership demonstrates SVB’s commitment in helping fintech companies succeed and scale. We’re thrilled to be a part of Float’s growth and bolster its expansion across the country.” said Brian Foley, Market Manager for Silicon Valley Bank’s Warehouse and Fintech group. 

“Float’s Charge Card product, and Float’s business finance platform more broadly, has transformed the way we handle payments and expenses,” said Erin Bury, Co-Founder and CEO of Willful, an online estate planning company. “Their focus on product innovation and customer satisfaction sets them apart in Canada, and has helped us to drive efficiency at Willful.”

Since it launched as a payments and software platform for Canadian businesses in 2022, Float’s Charge Card product has seen exceptional adoption, with the launch of credit limits in both CAD and USD, and 7x customer growth since its introduction, says Khazzam. In 2024, Float will continue to expand its footprint with new payment and software solutions purpose-built for Canadian companies.  

Seeking a Modern Solution: Fresh Tracks Canada Explores New Ways to Manage Spend

There was a point when it seemed the pandemic would break Fresh Tracks Canada, a Vancouver-based travel-agency — a fate faced by many businesses and industries in those tough times. As it happened, navigating the challenges helped the company thrive.

That is because, despite a more than twenty-year track record of delivering stellar personalized travel experiences across Canada, many of the company’s processes and systems had fallen out of date. Then the pandemic hit, and the company was forced to lay off more than half of its staff. 

“The pandemic was chaos, but chaos brings opportunity,” says the company’s Director of Finance, Robert O’Herlihy. “We broke down a lot of our systems and processes and rebuilt them up during the pandemic to be more efficient, and we’re seeing the rewards of that right now.”

Bringing A Travel Agency into the Digital Age

The process we used was to assign a new virtual card to every booking,” O’Herlihy says. “Customer service would apply for a card, which had to be approved by finance — so inevitably there was a time lag before someone sees and approves it

O’Herlihy says that the company emerged from the pandemic under new management with a mandate to operationalize new technology projects to drive productivity. For the accounting team, the area most ripe for improvement was payments. 

O’Herlihy explains that in the hospitality industry just about everything runs on credit cards, from hotel and tour bookings to employee expenses and even overhead costs. Overall, he estimates about half of the company’s transactions go through credit cards, which often racked up six-figure statements, with thousands of transactions requiring manual reconciliation. 

To make matters more complicated, Fresh Tracks Canada used one provider for its physical cards and another for virtual cards, of which they required many. 

“The process we used was to assign a new virtual card to every booking,” O’Herlihy says. “Customer service would apply for a card, which had to be approved by finance — so inevitably there was a time lag before someone sees and approves it — then it goes back to customer service so they could book the hotels and tours and other components.” 

Not only was the process itself inefficient for customer service staff, but it was also a nightmare for the accounting team, who had to chase staff for receipts and spend hours comparing them against bookings. As the company emerged from the pandemic with a mandate to find modern solutions, O’Herlihy says Float seemed like the most obvious fit. 

“It seemed to have a lot more features than other options on the market,” he says. “Some of them had receipt matching but didn’t allow us to add a description [to each transaction], or they might not integrate with our accounting system — Float just seemed like the full package of features we wanted.” 

One Platform, Many Solutions

“The integrations with our online banking and to our accounting software Xero were very easy, there was no custom API needed, it was plug and play essentially,”

Fresh Tracks Canada began using Float in August of 2022, following what O’Herlihy describes as a seamless onboarding process. 

“The integrations with our online banking and to our accounting software Xero were very easy, there was no custom API needed, it was plug and play essentially,” he says. “The system itself is also pretty intuitive, there wasn’t a lot of training that we had to give to the teams.” 

O’Herlihy adds that reception at Fresh Tracks Canada was “overwhelmingly positive” because Float provided a degree of autonomy and efficiency that had been lacking previously. 

“They don’t have to seek approvals, we don’t have to chase them for receipts; it’s all kind of self-managed,” he says. “When someone’s name is on a card, they’re more likely to manage it correctly, but we can set approvals in Float as well.” 

Within the accounting team O’Herlihy says life has gotten a lot easier now that all the company’s cards are managed in one system, including their U.S. dollar transactions, of which the travel company processes many. In fact, O’Herlihy says the company is saving thousands on American transaction fees alone, but cash savings wasn’t even the biggest benefit of the transition. 

“Time savings is the biggest one, like operational efficiencies, because we’re enabling our Legendary Hospitality team to take ownership and accountability of their own spending,” he says. “Getting the Float system in place was a big win for us, especially because it integrates with our accounting software, so there’s no manual entry into our accounting system — it’s all uploaded automatically.” 

How Float Improves Supplier Relations

“We’re striving to play our part in facilitating more efficient operations across the board, not just in the finance department, which is where the idea of using Float was born.”

In fact, O’Herlihy says that the change has even had a positive impact on the company’s relationship with its suppliers, as Fresh Tracks Canada can now issue virtual cards with spending limits to tour operators directly. 

“We give them a dedicated virtual supplier card, so ‘here’s a Visa, it’s got a limit of $5,000 or whatever it might, whenever you serve our clients feel free to charge that,’” he explains. “That builds trust with them and good relationships with them, and they know they won’t have any problems dealing with us.” 

While the pandemic nearly ended the now 26-year-old business, O’Herlihy says it ultimately made it stronger. These days Fresh Tracks Canada is back to its pre-pandemic headcount, even hiring back many of the staff it previously let go, and is now on track to surpass pre-pandemic revenues. 

“We’re striving to play our part in facilitating more efficient operations across the board, not just in the finance department, which is where the idea of using Float was born,” he says. “We kind of became a little stagnant before the pandemic, and in hindsight tearing down the system and rebuilding it was the best thing for the company.”

About Fresh Tracks Canada

Vancouver-based Fresh Tracks Canada has been creating personalized Canadian vacations since 1996. Their team has explored the country — because they love to travel too — and have used this insider knowledge to create more than 25,000 personalized trip itineraries.

Find Fresh Tracks Canada at www.freshtrackscanada.com. You can also book tours and vacations operated by the Fresh Tracks Canada team at www.canadiantrainvacations.com and www.northernlightscanada.com.

Float Launches Canada’s First High-Yield Product To Help Canadian SMBs Navigate Inflation Challenges

Float, one of Canada’s fastest growing fintech companies, has launched Float Yield, its new high yield product for Canadian SMBs. Float Yield gives businesses up to 2.7x the interest rates on their cash balances compared to traditional banks – and allows them to earn these rates on both CAD and USD funds, doubling their opportunity to save. 

Float is Canada’s first fintech to offer these rates from the first dollar, in two currencies, to thousands of Canadian SMBs – representing exceptional value in a difficult economy. A typical SMB with a $250,000 cash balance with Float Yield has the potential to earn up to $10,000 annually.

As inflation remains stubbornly high, one-in-six Canada’s SMEs are struggling – with most getting squeezed further as banks cancel or scale back credit lines and layer small business accounts with restrictive terms and fine print. 

Building A Modern Financial Platform For Canadian Businesses

Float CEO Rob Khazzam says Float Yield reflects Float’s mission to simplify corporate finances for Canadian SMEs. “Float Yield is another step forward on our path to create new financial opportunities for Canadian businesses,” said Rob Khazzam, CEO of Float. “We believe that by offering leading interest rates without the bureaucracy and fees of traditional financial institutions, Float not only enables businesses to control their spending but also earn attractive returns on their cash.”

For Khazzam, the introduction of Float Yield also signals a strategic leap forward toward Float’s vision to build a modern financial platform that powers Canadian companies and teams. 

Float currently serves thousands of Canadian SMBs with its business finance platform, facilitating over 200,000 monthly transactions for companies ranging from startups to established industry veterans.

Key Benefits of Float Yield:

  • Leading Rates: Float Yield pays Canadian companies 4% on their CAD and USD Float balances from the first dollar, up to 2.7x today’s average bank rates. These rates are not teaser rates, and Float is the first fintech in Canada to offer these rates in two currencies to Canadian businesses of any size.
  • No Lockups: Canadian businesses can seamlessly transfer and withdraw funds directly from the Float platform. Float customer balances are not invested in GICs, ETFs or money market instruments – they remain held in cash, in full, at a Tier 1 Canadian bank. 
  • Fast, Free Account Opening: Opening a free Float account online automatically grants Canadian businesses access to monthly Float Yield payments in both CAD and USD. Signup takes just 15 minutes.
  • Compounding Earnings: In addition to leading rates, Canadian businesses earn 1% cashback rewards on all monthly spending over $25,000 on the Float platform, in both CAD and USD. 

Float Clients Save More With Float Yield:

“Float Yield is another example of how Float uses innovation to help Canadian companies save more in today’s economy. The financial efficiency Float’s platform drives helps us focus on our mission of creating the leading AI-driven drug discovery platform,” said Stephen Vescio, VP Finance at BenchSci.

“As a local Canadian company, we take pride in partnering with Float to enhance our financial efficiency. Innovations like Float Yield allow us to bolster our business finances so we can serve our ultimate goal of strengthening our community through high-quality work,” said Sean Martin, Director of Operations at Reimar Forming & Construction in the Hamilton, Ontario area.

Feeding Efficiency: Fresh Prep Scales Their Spend Management with Float

Fresh Prep’s ad hoc employee expense management system worked fine in the early start-up days, but as the company expanded the meal kit provider was hungry for a more robust solution. 

Founded by three friends in Vancouver in 2014, Fresh Prep now boasts more than 430 employees and operations in both Alberta and British Columbia, with plans for further eastward expansion.

How Company Cards Keep the Lights On For Small Businesses

“We had two company cards, and there weren’t any names attached, so it was really hard to get a hold of any records or receipts, which becomes a particular problem when we have an audit.”

When Shannon Lee joined the company roughly five years ago, she says the organization leaned heavily on two small pieces of plastic. 

“We had two company cards, and there weren’t any names attached, so it was really hard to get a hold of any records or receipts, which becomes a particular problem when we have an audit, which happens once a year,” she says. “We had a lot of issues identifying who was responsible for the transactions we were seeing.” 

Lee, who gradually rose the ranks from customer service to her current position as a staff accountant, says up to 10 staff members might use the same card in a given month, and their access to funds was vital for fulfilling orders and paying bills on time. 

“We have our grocery suppliers, and we do typically pay by EFT or ACH, however a lot of times when we need top-ups for whatever reason — if one ingredient is short — we need to do store runs, so the card comes in handy for those,” she says. “Sometimes digital ads [providers] don’t accept any payment methods other than cards, and our digital spends are typically pretty high.” 

Fresh Prep’s reliance on card transactions can also push their monthly spending needs well into the six-figures, which Lee says banks weren’t always happy to provide, often requiring additional paperwork of collateral. Furthermore, all this spending on two cards made it hard to know who was responsible for what. 

“We used the vendor information to kind of guess what the spending could be, there was just no other choice,” she says. “I’ll be honest, a lot of the time if we couldn’t find out exactly what the expenses were we had to move on.” 

When Startup Solutions Don’t Fit a Grown-Up Company

“We really enjoyed how intuitive the Float platform is — it’s very user friendly — which was really nice, especially when we were used to these classic banking institution interfaces that are frankly really outdated and made it difficult to get a hold of data; Float just offered it to us on a platter.”

While the ad hoc approach worked well enough in the start-up years Lee says it became obvious they needed to find a better solution for managing employee expenses after Fresh Prep expanded beyond its provincial borders. 

“Employees in Alberta we didn’t know at the time were buying all these things because you need a lot to get a manufacturing plant started, so it took months before we could reconcile most of these transactions,” she says. “It was chaotic.” 

At that point Lee says the company realized that it would need to find a better solution before attempting any further expansion. Though she wasn’t part of the selection process herself, Lee suspects that Fresh Prep chose Float for the ability to assign virtual and physical cards to individual users, finally bringing transparency, oversight and greater organization to its expense management practices. 

“Our bookkeeper loves it, because she knows exactly who to ask [about company spend]; even if we’re missing receipts, we can hold someone accountable for those transactions,” she says. 

Lee adds that implementing Float in early 2022 proved very straightforward, thanks to its user-friendly interface and strong customer service. 

“We really enjoyed how intuitive the Float platform is — it’s very user friendly — which was really nice, especially when we were used to these classic banking institution interfaces that are frankly really outdated and made it difficult to get a hold of data; Float just offered it to us on a platter,” she says. “The customer service is also really awesome. The wait times aren’t very long, everyone seems very friendly, and it’s easy to talk to customer service — they seem to know what they’re doing.” 

How a More User-Friendly Solution Facilitates a More Friendly Workplace

“We really enjoy letting our employees not have to spend and get reimbursed; we’re able to set a limit and give them the room to make purchases on behalf of the company.”

An additional benefit Fresh Prep enjoyed once switching to Float include a high spending limit without any of the headaches imposed by their previous providers.

Lee however suggests that perhaps the greatest benefit was the ability to change the finance team’s relationship with their colleagues. That’s because Float lets them set merchant and category restrictions, spending limits, and even generate one-time use cards for specific purchases, letting employees spend freely while maintaining even higher security, reporting, and oversight standards. 

“We really enjoy letting our employees not have to spend and get reimbursed; we’re able to set a limit and give them the room to make purchases on behalf of the company,” Lee says. “We’re able to give them a bit of autonomy, but at the same time we also don’t have to risk the company possibly losing money due to transactions that shouldn’t have gone out, or transactions that we can’t track.” 

When asked whether the company could pursue its ambitious growth plans without this level of spending insight and control, Lee says the answer is “an absolute no.” 

“Having the means to be able to make those transactions definitely makes us feel more confident in our ability to grow,” she says. “Knowing that Float will be there when we expand in the future gives those of us on the finance team more security knowing we will be able to track every transaction along the way.” 

About Fresh Prep

Vancouver-based Fresh Prep joined the meal-kit industry to serve busy Canadians with a focus on reducing packaging waste and providing fresher, quality ingredients. Find Fresh Prep at www.freshprep.ca.

SPI Logistics Chose Float to Bring Their Vendor Payments Into the Digital-Age

When James Lemon moved from Calgary to Vancouver, he took the first accounting job he could find. Fifteen years later, he remains with the same employer, Surrey B.C.’s SPI Logistics.

“Honestly, I just sort of fell into it,” he says. “Logistics is a very interesting world because it’s way behind the times, it’s just starting to catch up, technology-wise, so it creates a lot of interesting challenges; there’s always something new and interesting to learn and deal with.” 

During that time Lemon gradually climbed the ranks from junior accountant to his current position as VP of finance and CFO. While he says a lot has changed since he first joined the team much of the innovation has occurred in just the last few years. 

“Five years ago, most companies in the logistics space were still writing things on spreadsheets,” he says. “With COVID we saw a major shift from physical cheques to electronic payment.”

Embracing Innovation in a Traditional Industry

“If for some reason my card had ever been compromised, we would have had to go to dozens of vendors trying to get our corporate card information updated before they try to run another transaction.”

Prior to the pandemic Lemon says he wrote checks for “virtually everything,” from office supplies to employee expenses, and paid its network of vendors using a single corporate card, both of which posed significant challenges and liabilities.

“If for some reason my card had ever been compromised, we would have had to go to dozens of vendors trying to get our corporate card information updated before they try to run another transaction,” he said. “Our bank requires two signatures for every cheque, so especially during the pandemic when nobody was together anymore it was really difficult.”

In hindsight Lemon says there were a lot of reasons to upgrade SPI’s spend management system, but admits that one of the things that first attracted him to Float was the ability to log expenses and generate reports simply by taking a picture of the receipt.

“Before we moved to Float I hadn’t received a receipt from our VP of sales in four months, and so when I started researching and found Float and saw it gave us the ability to text images of receipts, that right there was a godsend itself,” he said.

Soon after, in November of 2022, SPI Logistics onboarded the solution, which Lemon says proved “seamless.”

“We went with the Pro version, so I had a dedicated person help me do the initial set up, and the system was super intuitive,” he said. “We had another call scheduled for a couple of days later to see if I needed any more help, but I already had it all set up and running before that call was supposed to take place.”

The Benefits Keep on Rolling

“One of the other offerings we didn’t realize was going to be such a benefit was the fact that they have Canadian and U.S. dollar cards,” he says. “Now when we travel to the States rather than paying the 3% fee the bank charges on every U.S. dollar card transaction, we can now pay the actual exchange rate.”

Pretty soon, however, Lemon says he began discovering extra perks that made him wish he had signed on earlier. For example, he says that each of the many cheques the company issued cost about $20 to clear, while its company cards were processing about one million dollars a year without any added benefits.

The switch has turned a two-hour monthly card expense reconciliation process into a 20-minute activity, creating time savings for the team.

“One of the other offerings we didn’t realize was going to be such a benefit was the fact that they have Canadian and U.S. dollar cards,” he says. “Now when we travel to the States rather than paying the 3% fee the bank charges on every U.S. dollar card transaction, we can now pay the actual exchange rate.”

So far this year, Lemon estimates Float has saved SPI Logistics $10,000 in U.S. dollar conversion fees alone, but the benefits don’t stop there, either. He adds that when Float launched its virtual corporate card program earlier this year it immediately proved massively beneficial.

That’s because previously non-executives of the 35-person organization had to dip into their own pockets when traveling to conferences and events. The new feature, however, allowed Lemon to generate virtual cards in minutes, set merchant and category restrictions, spending limits, and even generate one-time use cards.

“In today’s economy lots of people don’t have lots of extra money to spend a few hundred dollars on a work trip to hopefully get paid back within one to two weeks,” he says. “Now with the ability to offer virtual cards from their phones, we can issue small temporary cards to the employees who are traveling, which makes their lives easier, and makes our life easier, because I get all the receipts electronically.”

Taking The Risks Out of Vendor Payments

Furthermore, all those vendor payments that used to come from Lemon’s corporate card have been replaced with a new system that assigns each vendor their own card, meaning that if one is compromised the others won’t be affected.   

“One of our executive cards did get compromised, and Float caught it right away, and disabled the card automatically, without us having to do anything,” he says. “That was hugely beneficial so that we weren’t dealing with any fraudulent transactions.”

Lemon adds that innovations like Float are part of what keeps his work feeling fresh fifteen years after taking the first job he could find. 

“Being able to embrace new technology and new ideas keeps things interesting,” he says. “If you work at a company that isn’t doing that, it’s really hard to stick with something for 15 years.”

About SPI Logistics

For over 40 years, SPI has been a leading firm providing a dedicated transportation network and third-party logistics hub to shippers, receivers, and carriers. Find SPI Logistics at www.spi3pl.com.

Black Feather Does Expense Management Differently with Float

Much of Stef MacDiarmid’s life has been shaped by Black Feather, a Canadian wilderness adventure company that specializes in expeditions to Canada’s north.

Not only has it been her employer for the last ten years, but it’s also how she met her now husband, Ken, with whom she shares a two-and-a-half-year-old, and a second child due in December.

“I had been working as a head instructor of a canoe and kayak school and ended up wanting to get back to my roots in canoeing, so I contacted Black Feather,” says MacDiarmid. “Each year they do a guide warmup, and my husband had already been working with them for a number of years, so it was in that guide warmup that we ended up meeting each other, and then paddling together for the first time; I guess you could say the rest is history.”

Bringing a legacy business into the digital age

“I could be spending $15,000 to $30,000 on canoes, but I wouldn’t know if it made sense to spend that money, because I didn’t know what our profit was going to be at the end of the year, so I couldn’t budget properly.”

After a decade working side by side — first as guides and later in management — the husband-and-wife team took over Black Feather as co-owners earlier this year. At the time the duo felt it was their responsibility to shepherd the now 50-year-old business into the 21st century. One area most ripe for improvement, according to MacDiarmid, was the company’s process for expense reimbursement and tracking.

“Everything was manual; each guide was given an advance for whatever expenses they needed to procure on whatever trip they were guiding, and we asked them to keep hard copy of the receipts, and a hard copy hand-written expense form, and mail those back to our head office, where our bookkeeper would sort through them,” she says. “It was painfully slow, the receipts would get damaged, we’d have to follow up with people all the time, and sometimes not get them back because someone had lost them, misplaced them, or was poor at getting stuff back.”

At the time MacDiarmid, who now serves as director as well as co-owner, says the team of four full time staff and three part-time helpers dedicated significant time and resources to managing the expenses of between 50 and 60 guides, who lead between 60 and 100 trips each year.

To make matters more difficult, the nature of the work meant paper receipts were commonly lost, damaged, or misplaced. During peak season guides may only have a few days between trips, and often didn’t have time to fill out expense reports before their next expedition. This ultimately created a range of challenges for Black Feather when it came to financial management.

“Forecasting and actually having an idea of how we’re doing in terms of profitability to make decisions about gear-buying for the following season was the biggest challenge,” MacDiarmid says. “I need to order canoes in August for the following year, and I could be spending $15,000 to $30,000 on canoes, but I wouldn’t know if it made sense to spend that money, because I didn’t know what our profit was going to be at the end of the year, so I couldn’t budget properly.”

Finding one solution that met a range of needs

“We were looking at other platforms that helped us track expenses, but it was still going to be out of pocket for people,” she says. “Float allowed them to have a company card without the hassle at the bank and the extra fee for each of those cards.”

MacDiarmid spent some time exploring potential solutions with her accounting team, and ultimately chose Float for its unique approach to expense management, seamless onboarding and integrations, and high level of customer service. Specifically, MacDiarmid says she was most interested in Float’s Spend Management features, which allowed her to distribute physical and digital company cards to her team, while having the ability to set limits, controls, and custom approval policies.

“We were looking at other platforms that helped us track expenses, but it was still going to be out of pocket for people,” she says. “Float allowed them to have a company card without the hassle at the bank and the extra fee for each of those cards.”

MacDiarmid adds that Float gave Black Feather’s guides access to the funds they needed to run expeditions without dipping into their own bank accounts, while providing the company with real-time financial visibility, oversight, and security. It also saved its guides and accountants countless hours of manual expense tracking and filling through Float’s Automated receipt collection and Accounting integrations.

“Especially with the integration and being able to export directly to Xero, that saves a ton of manual data input,” MacDiarmid says. “Not only is the spend tracked in a way where I can go and look at who spent what whenever I want to audit a little bit better and have that insight, but because we can export automatically to Xero it means our overall manual woman-hours ends up being drastically reduced.”

Ongoing improvements add more value

“It has essentially saved us a huge headache and time wasted and a lot of manual data entry. That is not where we want to be at this point, so we’re very happy with the switchover.

MacDiarmid notes that onboarding Float proved relatively seamless, adding there have already been several meaningful improvements to the product since Black Feather began using it just six months ago.

“The onboarding for me felt really good — there was lots of transparency in how things were set up and how they would work best for us — and there have been a few improvements as we’ve been rolling through,” she says. “One is having more than one account linked, so I don’t need to log out of one to log into the other… and the same thing with the expense reimbursement rollout; that felt like an added bonus within the program.”

MacDiarmid has also been impressed with Float’s customer service, and its ability to meet the needs of its large and diverse community of guides.

“If we have an issue and we don’t know how to solve something, the support comes quickly, and in a really great solution-oriented manner,” she says. “It has essentially saved us a huge headache and time wasted and a lot of manual data entry. That is not where we want to be at this point, so we’re very happy with the switchover.”

Getting ready for the next generation

Though she would love to see her children take over the business someday MacDiarmid says she and her husband don’t want to pressure them into it, either. No matter who takes the reins next, however, MacDiarmid feels a strong responsibility to pass along a stronger and more financially sound Black Feather, and not just because of its place in her family’s story.  

“We’re at an interesting crossroads right now in terms of tourism and travel and climate change,” she says. “When you experience a place, you’re much more interested in conserving it, and much more connected to the land and the water and the people.”   

Finding new, more efficient ways of operating, adds MacDiarmid, is the best way to ensure Black Feather remains a strong conduit to Canada’s northern communities.

About Black Feather

For over 50 years, Black Feather adventurers have paddled wilderness rivers, hiked remote landscapes, and sea kayaked along pristine coastlines and through sparkling fjords. Find Black Feather at www.blackfeather.com.

My Float Face

When you make software it’s natural to focus on the nuts and bolts of how the product works. But one thing we’ve seen consistently across our customers is that Float changes the way people experience their work lives, whether you work in finance or any other role where you incur work expenses.

Our new fall brand campaign focuses on these emotions – relief, confidence, even pure delight – in a series of portraits depicting everyday work scenarios.

If you can see yourself in one of these, it’s because we turned to our customers for inspiration. Your comments come through loud and clear in our conversations, both digital and IRL. We love seeing how Float has changed the way you feel at work.

Huge thanks to our creative partners Kailee Mandel, Renga, Distilled Creative and George Street Growth for bringing this campaign to life, in Float speed, no less.