How EMEA Accounting Teams Can Increase Financial Velocity and Ensure Accuracy With FloQast and NetSuite
With remote-hybrid work the de facto standard post-2020, insight into the day-to-day operations of teams is critical to supporting business operations. From streamlining communications to standardizing processes to formalizing a repository of documentation for the audit, finance and accounting leaders that oh-so-overstated “tactical vs. strategic” is much more relevant today than ever before.
Recently, FloQast hosted a webinar with leaders from NetSuite and Currencycloud, a payments and structure platform based in London, to discuss how accounting teams can increase the velocity of their processes. Hosted by FloQast Managing Direct, EMEA, Adam Zoucha, here are a few key takeaways from the event, featuring insights from Caio Mourao, Senior Solutions Consultant at NetSuite, and Andrew Smith, VP Finance of Currencycloud.
The Great Operational Shift
Accountants are evolving from number crunchers. No one wants to just crunch the numbers. They want to provide valuable insights into the finance side of the business to better help leaders make strategic decisions about the company’s direction. As a result, CFOs, in particular, are becoming hybrid CFO/COOs.
“It’s really about becoming an operational expert as a part of the finance organization,” said Adam. “We have some standards that departments are starting to adhere to and starting to really need to hit. All these departments are asking for faster answers, better teamwork, and greater confidence overall in the numbers that are being produced. Those are some daunting asks because it means shorter close times.
“It really is,” agreed Andrew, who joined Currencycloud after its NetSuite implementation and led the team’s drive to add solutions like FloQast to the fold. “Our top KPI around month-end close is all about days-to-close. We look at that every month and if the close was faster or closer that month, why is that? Was there a particular piece of the report that broke? Or was something that we were dependent on from another department not submitted on time? It’s imperative to track progress and identify the reasons for improvement or taking a step back. It means that if you can drive your team to be more efficient in that close cycle, that gives a lot more time with the rest of the month to actually go out and give a bit of value back into the company, to step into that operational role. That can be at all levels, whether the CFO or a management accountant.
Greater Expectations — and Scrutiny
While the operational shift has led to demands for greater speed, it’s also led to more internal scrutiny — which is a good thing. Businesses that consistently evaluate how efficient they are ultimately finding better ways of executing, or validating existing procedures as right for the time being.
With even more formalized, government-led scrutiny on the horizon due to Brexit — many are referring to it as “UK SOX” — its in accounting leaders’ best interest to prepare for what’s to come and get ahead of the game. For Currencycloud, the need to evolve came from its acquisition by Visa Group Finance.
“Certainly, there’s also a lot more scrutiny since the acquisition,” said Andrew. “Visa Group Finance has actually asked for access to forecasts because they wanted to understand,=:
- ’Is your balance sheet reconciled?’
- ‘Where can we find the support?’
We’ve adapted, and now all of that information to every month, whereas before it was a purely internal thing. During that time, we wisely chose to build out the reliance on solutions integrated with NetSuite, like FloQast, to improve our close because, since the acquisition, we are subject to more scrutiny, which is very different from pre-acquisition expectations.
Today, we’re in a much better position in terms of days close and being able to make that information accessible. We don’t have hundreds of spreadsheets flying back and forth across the internet, which was a problem in the past. If we were doing that every month, then the drag on one team and their team would be horrendous. It’s really valuable being able to facilitate that extra scrutiny of our documentation in a straightforward, tech-enabled way.”
Acceleration Without Burnout
According to a report by Blind, 83% of accountants are feeling symptoms of burnout, with 51% admitting depression and anxiety causes them to dread work, and 43.5% believing their job is a key contributor to poor mental health. With fewer accountants joining the workforce and more than ever choosing to walk away to try something new, talent retention is a serious concern for accounting teams.
“I found that it was a lot harder to manage the close process and one centralized place once we went fully remote and I had team members all over,” admitted Andrew. “That was a challenge we were able to remedy by relying on the tools we had in place and just getting used to being remote full time, but burnout is definitely an issue that I’m really mindful of in my team. It’s easy when companies are scaling to forget that with growth comes more work, which is obviously the goal, but it can be challenging to factor in stress to the equation. Back-office functions like finance and operations have to be really careful with how they manage their teams to make sure they’re resourcing appropriately, or they can — and likely will — face staffing challenges that could be avoided with conscious foresight.”
This, of course, is a significant benefit of automation, something that NetSuite and FloQast both excel with.
“A lot of customers I speak with note that there are a lot of recurring tasks that are quite repetitive and don’t create a lot of value,” said Caio. “With the levels of automation users can achieve using FloQast and NetSuite, many of those repetitive tasks can be executed by the solutions the teams rely on, giving them more time to work on urgent items, brainstorm on new ways to maximize the company’s profit, and develop new strategies.”