Nordkap pilots solution to SONIA interest uncertainty for UK real estate

The Bank of England's shift from LIBOR to SONIA added a huge burden to treasury management departments, who must now calculate and project daily compounding of a fluctuating interest rate

November 25, 2022

The UK has entered a period of real interest rate volatility in the last year, as the Bank of England struggles to contain the inflationary impact of the invasion of Ukraine, soaring energy prices, and the European cost of living crisis. And for treasury departments still using manual processes and spreadsheets to manage their debt, this has meant frequent changes to formulae and even more work checking for errors – hugely compounded by the Bank’s move from LIBOR to SONIA. But Swedish debt and risk management company Nordkap has a solution: its cloud-based automation software can automatically compound the daily SONIA rate and perform scenario analyses to project the total cost of debt. Head of International Sales Fredrik Eriksson explains how Nordkap can save treasury management departments time and effort, and the company’s plans to pilot its services in the UK before launching in mid-2023. You can also watch the first half of this interview with Fredrik Eriksson, where he explains just how much time and money Nordkap can save for commercial real estate treasury departments.

World Finance: I’m back with Fredrik Eriksson from Nordap, the commercial real estate treasury management specialists. Fredrik, here in in the UK we’ve entered a period of real interest rate volatility, for so many reasons; but compounding that challenge for commercial real estate companies is the Bank of England switching from LIBOR to SONIA?

Fredrik Eriksson: Yeah; going into 2022, we saw interest rates going up already back in the fall of last year. And no one could imagine that we would have a war, and the energy crisis, and coming out of the pandemic with the supply shocks. And the inflation that took off because of that has forced the Bank of England to increase rates multiple times.
But with the overlay and the transition from LIBOR to SONIA: commercial real estate companies are sitting in a position where they have to update manual spreadsheets multiple times a year, unless they have a system in place. And with the SONIA new calculation method, that’s not really an easy feat. It’s time consuming, and again it comes down to searching for errors.

World Finance: How does Nordkap’s treasury management system address this challenge?

Fredrik Eriksson: Well it’s a matter of having the calculation method for SONIA intact and in place, because a lot of the companies today struggle with setting up processes in how to calculate interest.

When we had LIBOR, you knew going in to the new period how much you’re going to pay by the end of that period. You can’t take that for granted anymore – in fact you find out five days before the payment due date how much you need to pay.

Within our sleeve of modules we have the ability to do a lot of scenario analysis and what we call budget reporting. Where we can do a lot of simulations with… we look at the forward curve of SONIA, for example, and together with that we can run scenarios and see how your interest rates cost will change depending on different scenarios.

It allows you to be more proactive and have a better understanding of where will I be by the end of the quarter?

World Finance: And of course you’re here in London as you prepare to bring your services to the UK; how does the market compare with back home, and how are you adapting your offering?

Well it’s a good question. I mean we’re looking at the UK market now, and we are initially scratching the service. We’re realising very quickly that it’s a very, very large market, and of course that’s the reason we’re going after it!

But what we’ve found though, even in the last couple of days looking at some of those competitors, they’re not really focused 100 percent on the commercial real estate market. They are more broad in their nature. They might not even be automated! We heard about a competitor yesterday, a fairly big one. You can enter your debt in their system, but you actually cannot get the interest updated in their system.

So we feel that where we are right now, we’re fairly nimble in that regard. So that allows us for example, going into this pilot programme, and we find out more about the intricacies and the special needs of some of the UK market needs, we can scale up within our development teams and bring in more people. And really help focusing on some of the features that are more required in the UK, compared to for example Sweden.

World Finance: Yes so you’re starting with this pilot programme – tell me more about that, and, do you have a timescale for your full launch in the UK?

Fredrik Eriksson: We have this three phase approach here. We will bring in three or four pilots, basically to validate that our calculation methods are correct. We’ve of course checked with BoE and so forth, but we want to make sure that the nuances between the different banks, that we get everything right.

So that’s the first phase with the pilot programme, and it allows companies to be part of helping us, and customising a system tailored to their specific companies. So they sort of create a wishlist of things that they would like to see us implement and develop over time.

So the pilot programme is estimated to run Q1 of next year, 2023. And then we have phase two, sort of the second quarter, where we will go into a sort of free trial and roll out a more complete solution to then hopefully having regular paying customers in the second half of next year.

World Finance: Fredrik, thank you very much.

Fredrik Eriksson: Thank you.