Mark Frey loves financial markets and specializes in currency hedging, foreign exchange and payment systems. And recently, CanadianSME had the privilege of interviewing him for our small business magazine in Canada. Mr. Frey dedicatedly focuses on building and developing a solid team of financial services experts and a range of tech products that help corporate clients build their business internationally. He is also a seasoned leader with a comprehensive track record of serving clients that have exceeded the expectations of internal stakeholders and partners. Read this interview to understand how he has played a significant part in growing Corpay and helps organizations build profitable, sustainable, and global businesses, firmly establishing himself as a genuine market leader for the last 10+ years.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Personally, I am a husband and father of three. I’m also a longtime coach of high-performance youth baseball, which is what I enjoy doing in my spare time.
In the professional sense, I have been in the payments industry for over 20 years. When I first started my career in this industry, I assumed that I would only stay for a year or two before moving on to a career in investment banking or asset management, but it only took a few months of working in this industry before I really fell in love with the work and the opportunities for innovation in this space
One of my favourite aspects of my job is the creative and dynamic nature of the business. The financial market is always shifting and evolving, meaning there are always new and innovative solutions. My career has provided me with the opportunity to truly build something that is very customer-centric. It has also given me the ability to help organizations of all sizes and across all sectors build their business, which continues to make my world very interesting today.
What are some of the key challenges that companies are facing when doing business internationally?
For small businesses, the biggest challenge is gaining access to services that will allow them to expand into global markets. Many small businesses have working capital constraints and can’t afford expensive programs and/or don’t have the knowledge to expand into new markets on their own. This can severely impact their growth, as new markets open up a larger pool of customers and introduce them to new suppliers that can offer more competitive pricing or improved products
We work hard to help small businesses gain the access they need to not only expand into new markets but also manage the risks that come with conducting a portion of business in a currency that’s different from their own. We also help them manage volatility in the marketplace as well as budgetary pressures, as we know that understanding new markets can be overwhelming.
How do global payment solutions differ for SMBs?
Finding solutions that fit the organization’s purpose and size is critical. We often hear from customers struggling with large financial institutions that don’t have the flexibility in their product offering to customize solutions for small businesses.
Small businesses have unique needs that are driven by their organization, the industry they operate in, their customer base and suppliers. Their working capital needs are also vastly different. Many small businesses also don’t have access to enough capital to make payments in advance. Additionally, many don’t have dedicated employees to manage international payments. For these reasons, it’s important that solutions are accessible, transparent, cost-effective and efficient.
Additionally, it’s important that small businesses work with a partner that is engaged and willing to work alongside them to find the payment solution they need right now – and in the future. Small businesses are constantly changing and growing, meaning they need a partner that’s investing in their business growth and willing to adjust their payment solution as they grow. This is where many financial institutions struggle – they simply don’t have the resources or product breadth to be able to provide and adjust innovative solutions that follow the journey of each business, which is what Corpay works hard to provide.
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What are some of the key benefits that a company like Corpay provides small businesses that are conducting business internationally and/or dealing with international suppliers?
Customization and responsiveness are two of the key benefits we provide small businesses. We are well aware that small business owners need to be able to find and adopt solutions quickly, so having a partner that is responsive to their changing needs and willing to adjust is vital.
Having a range of flexible solutions that support inbound and outbound payments in any market, as well as working capital solutions that are accommodative to the needs of small businesses, are also great examples of what Corpay does very well. Lastly, we provide access to market experts that can guide small businesses on how to make international payments, and how to interact with suppliers.
I know technology plays a huge role in these solutions, can you tell me a bit about the evolution of the global payments space and how technology has played a role?
Technology and personalized service go hand-in-hand in the small business sector. Many organizations are not able to provide personalized and customized payments solutions for each business, meaning that oftentimes they are not fit for small businesses. Small businesses need solutions that allow them to work quickly and efficiently, and technology plays a vital role in that. However, it needs to be paired with a partner that can deliver personalized service, which enables the technology to evolve as the business grows and evolves.
For example, many small businesses approach Corpay because they need to make a few payments a month, so we provide online access and access to a manager that will help them through this process. As their business scales, they require a more robust solution that allows them to make bulk payments all over the world and to multiple markets at once. As that business continues to scale to become enterprise-ready, they gain direct integration with an accounting package or via either file integration or by API connectivity. This allows the business to embed payment capabilities into the platform they operate on, either through customer-facing systems or their own back-office platform. This is a prime example of how technology – when paired with personalized service – not only allows small businesses to grow but helps level the playing field by allowing small businesses to have access to and compete in international markets the way large, multi-national organizations do.
Why is it so important that SMBs – or businesses of all sizes – leverage payment solutions when dealing internationally?
Market access is the main reason why this is so important. Allowing small businesses to expand their market beyond just their localized geography and gain better access to suppliers and partners directly impacts their ability to scale and grow.
The idea behind our solutions is to make access to global markets just as simple as local markets, so businesses can payments seamlessly. Many small businesses’ experience of paying international suppliers is limited, and often includes transactions with minimal transparency in terms of when funds are delivered or how they’re delivered. Working with a payment solutions provider not only provides more transparency around all transactions but allows them to be more timely and cost-effective, creating a better experience for the business, its suppliers and its customers.
How can SMB’s effectively manage currency risk?
Corpay has a variety of solutions, ranging from very simple forward contracts that allow you to fix an exchange rate to much more advanced tools and strategies that businesses can use to manage multiple currencies and multiple suppliers with different dates. This range of treasury products is important because they grow with the business as it evolves and becomes more complex, it provides access to tools that can grow with it.
Corpay also has relationship managers and expert traders that help businesses strategize and think constructively about how to manage currency risk, and what it means in terms of the pricing of their product. Our experts help businesses develop an understanding of how to source products and negotiate with suppliers, which can help enhance margins and win business in price-competitive situations.
Lastly, Corpay provides customers with the ability to manage their businesses online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is extremely important for small business owners who may not have time to access their accounts or plan their finances during regular business hours.
What type of leadership advice would you give SMBs in the current landscape?
For any business, being customer-centric is most important. However, investing in your employees should also be top of mind. Employees are the face of your organization in terms of interacting with customers, suppliers and partners. If business leaders create a positive work environment for employees, they will put their best foot forward in the business every day.
It’s also critical to find partners that will grow with your business, and that is invested in your success. At Corpay, we’re always looking for mutually advantageous long-term relationships, whether they be with our banking partners, clients, or international business partners. Finding trusted business partners that want to advance your growth and that share in your mutual success is an important part of doing business, and will make your business stronger.
About Mark Frey
As President of Corpay Cross-Border Solutions, Mark has played a key role in growing the Corpay Cross-Border business and firmly establishing the company as a market leader in areas of cross-border payments and currency risk management over the course of the last 10+ years. A proven leader with over 20 years’ experience in trading and treasury operations, Mark is responsible for leading all aspects of operations, risk management, dealing, and finance, and has been instrumental in driving the organizations revenue and EBITDA growth, leading up to the successful acquisition by FLEETCOR. He is well known in the industry and frequently provides insight to financial and business industry news services such as The Globe & Mail, BNN, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.