Wärtsilä’s Anu Hämäläinen, the Forerunner of Finance Robotics: ”People, who know the processes, are the best robotic coders.”

This blog series is dedicated to Cash — from startup’s to corporate treasuries.

It’s not only startup’s, who drive fintech robotics revolution. Even a large cap, stock listed company with 100 years history, can be revolutionary. This short blog does not justify Anu’s and Wärtsilä’s pioneering work in the area of fintech robotization. In corporate treasuries and service centers I believe Anu and Wärtsilä are forerunners in European level.

Very inspirational morning meeting and a glass of strong Finnish mineral water with free-time hunter and landlord, Anu Hämäläinen VP of Group Treasury and Financial Services & Support in John Stenberg’s strand, Helsinki. With more than 50 rule-based- robotic processes implemented in Wärtsilä’s global service center in Vaasa and Treasury so far, Anu is one of the forerunners of finance robotics.

The secret of the exceptional high 99,7 % 1st attempt success rate, is Wärtsilä’s in-house implementation. ”People, who know the processes, are the best robotic coders,” Anu explains.

Anu graduated from Vaasa University, the best corporate finance institute during that time, in the middle of the recession. In 1990’s Wärtsilä merged with Lohja and Metra was formed. Elcoteq and Valmet paper automotive were divested, while e.g. Finlux, Abloy, Sanitec and Imatra Steel were still part of Wärtsilä. Anu started in Wärtsilä’s group controlling, Wärtsilä Diesel and group treasury and moved further to Sanitec, when Head of investment banking in OKO, called. Anu soon started as a head of back office and compliance in OKO. In 2001, she moved to Conventum, which was bought by Pohjola in 250 million euros. She was a managing director of Conventum when brokerage business was sold to eQ. After a short move to Quorum, Anu’s former superiors needed Senior Vice President, Financial Administration to run SRV’s IPO in 2007. The right answer was Anu, who lead SRV’s IPO process.

”In family-run business, the Culture change from unregulated to regulated is probably the most significant part of the IPO transformation. That doesn’t happen overnight” Anu explains. ”But something I remember what happened overnights was commenting. I had an alarm clock ringing for overnights, ensuring listing prospectus commenting were done in the next early morning.”

In 2008, Wärtsilä called again. Anu started as a Finance Director & VP Group Control and in 2015, moved as a VP Group Treasury and Financial Services & Support. She was in responsible for global service center based in Vaasa when Wärtsilä started to consider robotization of some of the financial routine functions in 2015.

“Based on robotization and our people, Finland is absolutely the best place for us to be”

”Our service center in Vaasa is multinational. People, citizens from close to 20 countries and speaking 29 languages, are very development-minded. Continuous development enables high standard and cost efficiency, even compared to low-cost countries. Based on robotization and our people, Finland is absolutely the best place for us to be. ”

”Now more than 60 rule-based -process are robotized in Wärtsilä with a robotic software, UIPath.” Anu explains “Our success rate has been improved very quickly from 88% to 100%. I believe it’s because of our people, who know the processes, are doing coding. “

I think people, who know the processes, are the best robotic coders — we don’t use external consultants. Investment payback time is very quick: e.g. one-robotized process in Treasury released 1 month from routines to value-add work. Our target is to robotize all thousands of rule-based processes during the next 3–5 years. In addition to that, we’ve also done one-time robots when digging information from our global ERP.”

”In our case, using AI in our cashflow forecasting, with max 80% confidence level, will be a challenge. In our industry, it’s all about on the working capital management.” Anu explains ”Our project-based business model in 80 countries is working capital intensive and thus not very easy to predict. In addition, different local payment standards, percentage of completion and prepayments are creating fluctuations in cash flow. ”

She’s incredible personality. Always ready to fight on the front line, now robotics, where much is spoken but not done so much yet. I really close the door in John Stenberg’s strand 2 with Wow -feelings.

The author is the Founder of BackedByCFO, CFO As A Service from seed to IPO and passionate to help CEO’s with cashflow, fintech and metrics.