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The CFO Playbook on Accounting: Gauging the Pros and Cons of Automating Financial Reporting

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About CFO Playbook
CFO Playbook is a series of educational Webcasts, eBooks and events, aimed at providing you with practical knowledge and insights from your peers.

Few CFO responsibilities are as numbing as the annual consolidation of financial statements. While necessary to have an accurate, fair depiction of the financial and operating conditions of a holding company, the exercise consumes time that could otherwise be dedicated to more strategic pursuits while spending less effort on accounting and more time evaluating new business models and opportunities.

The question is: To what extent can automating financial reporting result in improvement?

Advocates maintain that automating reporting processes as fully as possible increases efficiency, transparency, accuracy and uniformity. Information is more up-to-date, permitting more insightful and informed decisions. Companies can close their books more swiftly and avoid attracting scrutiny through manual entries.

Despite these benefits, there are risks to consider, which raise the following questions:

  • How sound are the underlying processes that are proposed for automation?

  • Will the automated accounting functions and controls operate as expected?

  • What additional training and organizational adjustment are required to implement automated reporting processes properly?

  • Has the system been designed to identify errors reliably and to provide proper accruals?

  • Are operational and management decision makers satisfied with the quality of reporting from the system?

  • Are inter-company transaction functions standardized?

  • Are the accounting and consolidation systems integrated?

  • And are audit trail capabilities in place for reported information?

These questions and others must be in focus when automating financial reporting.

During this Webcast, a distinguished panel of experts will examine proper due diligence and best practices for companies that plan to pursue further automation. The panelists will also share their insights on:

  • How to determine if automated processes are right for your organization;

  • Why the CFO must take ownership of the move to a new system;

  • How to evaluate system providers to enhance benefits while reducing risks;

  • How to assess the value of automated systems in the cloud; and

  • Why stress-testing a new system makes sense.

About the Panelists
Richard Beacham, Principal, Management Consulting Practice, KPMG

Richard Beacham is a Principal with the management consulting practice of KPMG. He has more than 22 years of experience providing business advisory, process transformation and technology services. He is a leader in KPMG's Advisory Performance and Technology group, teaming with senior management to drive finance transformation projects, including financial and management reporting improvements, finance operational improvements and supporting finance technology deployments.

Andrew Hickey, Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Andrew Hickey has 19 years of experience serving large public companies in both assurance and consultative roles. He leads the Financial Accounting & Reporting sub-offering in the Financial Accounting, Valuation & Securitization (FAV&S) market offering of Deloitte & Touche LLP. For the past 16 years, he has primarily worked with energy and manufacturing companies, focused on accounting, auditing and risk control matters. He is responsible for co-leading the integration of Deloitte's technical accounting services with its finance transformation services.

About the Moderator
Russ Banham is the Senior Writer at CFO magazine. During the past three decades, Mr. Banham has written close to 200 feature stories for CFO and CFO.com, as well as thousands of articles for many other business publications, including Forbes, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Chief Executive, U.S. News and World Report, Journal of Accountancy, and many others.

He is the author of 23 books, including The Ford Century, the award-winning, international best-selling history of Ford Motor Company, translated into 13 languages, and The Fight for Fairfax, detailing the extraordinary economic growth of northern Virginia in the aftermath of World War II. His various books have led to several television appearances, including on the TODAY show and A&E's Biography. He is currently writing a history of aviation in Hawaii.