How a High-Growth FinTech Tackled 4 Common Global Expansion Challenges
Global markets present incredible opportunities. And success stories are everywhere. But even the fastest-growing global companies typically have to overcome quite a few hurdles to thrive internationally. Now, their experiences provide useful lessons for other organizations eyeing cross-border growth.
That’s why the story of Aper’s global expansion is so interesting. The challenges that this high-growth FinTech company faced will ring familiar to many other companies that quickly expand their international footprint.
The need for support
When Aper reached out to HSP Group to become its sole expansion partner, it was looking to achieve a more stress-free and efficient approach to managing growth in multiple countries. With a SaaS cloud-commerce platform designed to empower banks to quickly launch their own AI-driven marketplaces, the company attracts a wide range of customers, from the largest global banks to other disruptive FinTechs.
At the time, Aper had just completed a sizable funding round and substantial growth across the globe was in the forecast. With hundreds of millions in gross merchandise volume (GMV) each year and a geographic footprint spanning 11 countries, the company had much to look forward to.
4 common global expansion challenges
But Aper also needed to expediently address four key challenges that threatened to put the brakes on the swift execution of its growth plan.
- Challenge #1: Too many providers in multiple markets
- Challenge #2: Lack of transparency, information, and control
- Challenge #3: Sorting through different approaches when hiring in multiple countries
- Challenge #4: Navigating market nuances
Let’s briefly look at each challenge with the help of two key Aper executives, Ritika Mahajan, Head of Finance and Operations, and Jhonatan Santamaria, Controller.
Challenge #1: Too many providers in multiple markets
This may be one of the most common challenges expanding companies face. And Aper felt the pain too. Like many organizations growing at speed, Aper had pulled together a network of advisers, providing different services in lots of different countries. The company had not only one but several providers for payroll, accounting, taxes, and more.
“Multiplied by several countries, it quickly became unwieldy and difficult to manage,” Santamaria said. “We were using considerable resources to ensure we remained on top of our activities and complied with all regulations.”
Challenge #2: Lack of transparency, information, and control
When a company is unable to gain a fully-holistic view of its global footprint, challenges tend to mount. That was the situation that Aper faced.
Said Mahajan, “The proliferation of providers in multiple countries brought a range of management challenges and costs.”
In sum, challenges spanned the areas of:
- Hard to see and compare operations across the entire footprint
- Challenging to stay on top of what is happening where and when
- Tough to connect the front-end to the back-end
- Difficult to control and self-manage the operations
Challenge #3: Different approaches when hiring in multiple countries
The rise of remote work has brought this challenge to the forefront for many companies. A range of questions demand clear answers to ensure the hiring is undertaken in the most optimal employment structure:
- Strategy: Based on in-country objectives, what are the tasks that local employees are going to do?
- Compliance: As just one example, do the on-the-ground activities taken on trigger Permanent Establishment (PE) issues? If the answer is yes, it means attributing business profits in-country is likely to be required, so issues that must be understood include: What is the entity type of the legal employer? What are its in-country profits? What are the ramifications of different alternatives? How significant is the issue of transfer pricing? And many more…
- Methodology: What type of employees will the company hire? What are the vehicles available to hire the employees (Employer of Record (EoR), payroll registration, local branch, or local subsidiary)? A range of variables determines which employment model is the best fit from tax, compliance, HR, organizational, and cultural perspectives.
Based on previous experiences, Aper knew the importance of finding a quick answer to the question of how to hire talent in various locations, without having a back-office infrastructure in the country where the employees live. Past solutions had left the FinTech with a somewhat fragmented and difficult-to-manage model that it was eager to replace.
Challenge #4: Navigating market nuances
Employment laws. Compliance obligations. Banking environments. These are just a few of the variables newcomers encounter as they enter new markets. In Aper’s case, the company had to weigh the impact of complex market dynamics on any growth effort.
For example, it had two prospects in South and Central America but no infrastructure or knowledge of how to get money in and out, adding further challenges. But once Aper considered the findings of a market entry study that the HSP team conducted, next steps were soon crystallized.
What happened next?
With the expertise and support of HSP, Aper overcame the challenges and accelerated its growth plans.
“Rather than a fragmented network of providers in multiple countries, Aper now leverages the in-depth experience and resources of HSP,” said Mahajan. “The combination of HSP's GateWay platform and the expertise of our assigned Global Services Manager has enabled us to holistically manage the entire organization and makes us well positioned for continued growth.”
To read the full story on Aper, download the case study.
Aside from the challenges, it also features a detailed look at the global people solutions that HSP Group designed to help Aper thrive.
Whether your company is starting to consider cross-border opportunities or continuing multi-country expansion plans, HSP offers a proven service model for global success.
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