Don’t blink. The role of the CFO is evolving. In fact, it’s changing so fast that the CFO that focuses just on traditional aspects of the finance function, such as controls and reporting, could find themselves on the outside looking in, faster than you can say GL. According to Deloitte, 63% of CFOs agree that in three years’ time most of their team’s time will be spent on analysis, prediction and decision support rather than accounting, reporting and compliance.
But let’s talk about reporting for a moment. Where would the CFO be without it? Most would tell you that financial analysis and reporting are two of the sturdiest, yet most pernicious pillars of modern business. For any business, and for the people who run it, the importance of accurate financial statements cannot be underestimated. Without them, making decisions, planning strategies, determining success, estimating failures, and telling the world the glorious story of the company becomes virtually impossible.
Consider this. If leveraging data to create more proficient marketing reports can lead to more informed decisions which can then boost marketing productivity by nearly X, couldn’t that same logic be possibly tied to the financial sector or a finance department? The gist being that why can’t financial reporting tools serve to benefit an organization by giving the CFO or controller a more informed and “visual” snapshot of a companies’ activities? The answer is they can, but what’s out there in terms of reporting leaves a lot to be desired.
Let’s face it – the purposes of financial reporting are to give stakeholders an accurate depiction of a company’s finances and provide in-depth insights into financial information. As much as we would like to think that great CFOs and controllers just magically know how to create meaningful financial reporting and use it to make decisions that improve their companies, that’s not the case. With great reports, a solid financial reporting tool, and some careful analysis, any discerning financial executive should see what is going right and what is going wrong. The better the reporting tools, the better the analysis, the better the results. What’s missing? An intuitive, responsive reporting tool that gets it right the first time.
The ability to assess the quality of financial information can be a valuable skill. The ability to effectively report financial information accurately should be perceived as an invaluable skill. When a CFO or controller can utilize and lean on a high-quality financial reporting tool, the greater the confidence can be in the analysis based on those financial reports, and the resulting investment decisions.
Correspondingly, the CFO or controller who utilizes poor financial reporting tools risks deficiencies becoming widely known by stakeholders early on. They are more likely to make very poor investment decisions based on inaccurate data and could be setting up the company for extensive and protracted losses. Again, the key can be a reporting tool that gets it right the first time.
It’s time for financial reporting to exit the dark ages of black and white numbers and enter the dawn of new-age visuals filled with color – tangible, accurate and real-time results that can promote and predict exciting possibilities for the future! What does this mean? It means your financial reporting software/tools should be easy to use and eliminate manual tasks and errors associated with spreadsheets. They should support most general ledgers, whether as a stand-alone or simultaneously. In addition, reporting software should also provide some, if not all, of the following features:
- Multi-entity consolidation and reporting
- Flexible deployment options
- Currency translation
- Advanced report distribution
- Audit ability for increased accuracy
- User-friendly report concepts
- Rolling forecasts
- Presentation-ready financial statements
- Zero suppression
- Side-by-side balance sheets
- GL integration
- Account collections
- Custom security controls
- Multi-language reporting
- The ability to pull forecasts from Excel
- FRx report conversion
It’s no vague notion that market and regulatory forces are reshaping the financial reporting space. Economic pressure and higher expectations, along with technological innovation, are changing all aspects of the CFO’s and controller’s job description. While those forces are individually familiar to many, their confluence is leading to changes within and across companies of all sizes. The bottom line is that without solid financial reporting tools and or financial analytics software, the discerning CFO or controller really has no idea how the business is performing. In today’s volatile market, that can be a losing proposition for all stakeholders.