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data breaches

Combating Data Breaches

We live in a time that it’s pretty typical to get notified of data breaches. It’s not something that anyone wants to hear, but it’s important that we know where our information stands so we can better protect it in the future.

Although we may be familiar with data breaches, often, our understanding of what causes them is limited. It’s important to have a solid understanding of the source of the breach in order to be better prepared and possibly prevent it in the future.

Where Do Data Breaches Start?

At the core of a data breach is always the same thing: a person. This is an individual who is tech-savvy enough to break into systems and extract sensitive information. However, it can also stem from people not protecting their information or even providing their information too readily to individuals who have malicious intents. After all, it is our duty to protect our data first and foremost, and that responsibility should not be taken lightly.

What Companies Can Do

One of the best things that companies can do to protect information is to ensure that all employees have proper training. One of the most common tactics of hackers is to create a phishing email, which then leads to a person giving up their information. At that point, the information can be used in a variety of ways.

Fortunately, since training programs have been introduced, breaches via phishing emails have dropped drastically. The hope is that not only will people avoid interacting with this type of scheme, but that they will also report it when it does occur.

Evolution of Data Breaches

Unfortunately, one of the most frustrating things about data breaches is that the moment we think we’ve finally put a lid on some of the common tactics, another method is created. This is why ongoing training is essential.

Hacking may change over time, but we should always be willing to learn those tactics so that we can protect ourselves from moving forward. It’s less about knowing all of the ways a person can accomplish a data breach and more about what we can do once it happens. 

For more tips regarding data breaches, check out: Building a Cybersecurity Plan for the Unknown.

financial system upgrades

Tips for Financial System Upgrades

While updating financial systems may seem like a never-ending and arduous endeavor, keep in mind that financial system upgrades are an opportunity to eliminate mundane tasks, helping your team be more productive. Optimizing performance and enhancing security are the top reasons that many company’s plan financial systems upgrades.

Following these steps can help you to set up the financial system upgrades project for success:

Define Your Needs

A system update shouldn’t just be about embracing the hottest new technology.  To ensure you make an astute upgrade of your financial systems, conduct a pre-process analysis of your business objectives. Starting with clear objectives allows you to make informed decisions about financial system upgrades.

  • Is there a definite business need to improve financial system performance?
  • Define the requirements needed to achieve and maintaining digital maturity.
  • What vulnerabilities will a financial system upgrade address?
  • Is there is a requirement for better data capture and reporting?

Team Assessment

Analyze whether your current employees have the needed expertise to carry out a financial system upgrade.  You need experts capable of mapping-out the existing process, identifying areas that the change will impact and keeping the technical disruption to a minimum.

Training and support Consider your technical training needs before the new system goes live and have technical experts available to deal with any post-implementation issues.

Collaboration

Cross departmental collaboration among the CFO, CIO, CMO and H.R. promotes smoother financial system upgrades.

Stay in Control

Change managers will want to focus on these areas:

Keep a constant flow of open communication with the entire upgrade team. Hold regular meetings, send email briefings and provide updates on shared project files. Over communication is not a bad thing when it comes to a financial system upgrade.

Chart the existing workflow, then map out the post-upgrade process. These documents will serve as the basis for training.

Training

Ongoing training and support are important, especially in the following areas:

Transition process — The initial training, which should take place before the go-live date, should thoroughly explain how current processes will work with the new system.

Security and compliance — Users need to know the specific data safeguards of the upgraded software. This can also be an opportunity to review current guidelines and best practices. Be sure to update any online training modules or classroom sessions with features of the new system.

Financial system upgrades are rarely simple or quick.  However, it is an opportunity to learn, develop and streamline the processes.

Click here to read more about the digital future of the accounting industry.

financial executive priorities

Three Financial Executive Priorities

The desire to implement more technology, reduce costs, and increase data security are ranking at the top of the financial executive priorities list this year. It’s important to understand why these points remain the top focus and how they could shape the future of the company.

Financial Executive Priorities #1: Implementing Technology

While the type of technology may be determined by a particular company, automation tends to be the focus of many businesses. It allows work to be accomplished faster and more efficiently, thus saving valuable time and money. It will influence the company’s ability to experience more revenue and margin growth, which have been ongoing issues in previous years.

Companies should take the time to evaluate the need for new technology and how they can use it to better the workplace. What works for one business may not work for the next. Bigger picture thinking is critical when it comes to establishing a technology strategy that works not only today but well into the future.

Financial Executive Priorities #2: Cost Reduction

Many financial executives want to implement cost reduction while keeping their workforce the same or even growing it. This can be achieved by implementing new technology as mentioned above, or by relying on flexible staffing.

Flexible staffing often refers to temporary employment that answers a direct issue for a short period of time. It’s important for financial executives to understand that “going lean” can have negative impacts and lead to an overworked employee pool.

Financial Executive Priorities #3: Data Security

Data security is another area that is of concern for financial executives. It’s important to ensure that data isn’t corrupted by unauthorized users as this could create serious breaches in the company. While executives may be focused on cutting spending, they shouldn’t do it at the risk of exposing digital information. This is one area that expenses should be allocated in the name of company preservation.

You may also enjoy, Allocating Less Time to Allocations

now-gen cfo

The Now-Gen CFO

It isn’t just the role of the Next-Generation CFO that is evolving, the Now-Generation’s role, is as well.  In order to be an effective strategic partner, the Now-Gen CFO must embrace BI (Business Intelligence).

BI is the technology that improves the way businesses analyze and organize the information they collect. BI combines financial and operational data to produce critical business insights.

Below we examine how BI can help CFOs become more efficient.

Finance Operations and Reporting

BI can provide the Now-Gen CFO with the ability to collect data from multiple sources and make it cohesive. BI can:

  • Automate financial statement preparation and distribution
  • Assist with budgeting and forecasting
  • Provide predictive analysis and bench-marking
  • Calculate compensation packages
  • Enable operational reporting of core business drivers
  • Calculate revenue recognition
  • Provide working capital analysis and monitoring
  • Identify, review and reconcile monthly results

Transaction Execution

BI can help navigate transactions and even warn of reasons to pause them. BI can also be  a valuable tool for merger integration and divestiture management. Additionally, BI can both diagnose the drivers of synergy and divestiture benefits and track them in real-time. Providing monitoring and analysis to inform post-transaction company efficiency.

Now-Gen CFO Performance Improvement

Unlike the old methods of finance function reporting, which measure company performance at designated intervals. BI is responsive and can measure in real-time. The targeted reports are instrumental in getting to the cause of financial flaws. BI can also provide turnaround strategies.

BI can also be helpful with:

  • Payroll trends
  • Invoicing and collections
  • Pricing impacts
  • Inventory
  • Procurement
  • R&D
  • ROI

Overview

BI can convert the old-school CFO to the Now-Gen CFO and optimize business diagnostics for transaction execution. That being said, BI can be an extreme value-add and bottom line booster.

Click here to learn more about the Transformation of the CFO

accounting industry

Digital Future of the Accounting Industry

A Perspective for the Finance and Accounting Industry:

Soon, the accounting industry will be working with brand-new technologies that haven’t even been imagined yet.  Today’s digital environment can be a strange dichotomy. On one hand, we hear constant buzz about dramatic advances and the opportunities presented by them.  We are inundated with the promises  of growth and the impact of artificial intelligence (AI).

On the other hand, for some people, new technologies can be confusing, and the real benefits seem like a pipe-dream.

Despite the dichotomy between the industry buzz and what some currently experience, technological developments in the accounting industry will be dramatic and ultimately beneficial.

Trends in Accounting Technology

Advances in processing power, memory capacity, connectivity, AI, robotics, and blockchain technologies are changing the accounting industry. Below are  important trends that will have a material impact on the way data is collected and processed.

  • Big data sets, drastically improved performance and memory capacity
  • AI augmentation of compliance and consulting capabilities
  • Robotic process automation and integration
  • Talent sourcing, crowd problem-solving, and shared ecosystems systems
  • Publicly available and easily accessible knowledge

Tomorrow’s Accounting Industry

By engaging in new technology processes, accounting and finance professionals will be able to enhance compliance practices, improve analysis, and provide greater value.

  • Big data will lead to better detail and accuracy.  Allowing enhanced analysis at the transaction level.  
  • Algorithms will be used to apply expertise, knowledge and experience. Meaning accounting professionals will need to apply that expertise early in the processes as real-time reporting accelerates the times at which data is submitted.
  • Robotic process automation technologies are evolving and becoming easier to use. Additionally, they will likely become smarter and therefore will have a greater impact.
  • Information will be delivered in a more personalized way through mixed-reality media and video. In the future, we might expect more use of natural language processing for emails and engaging virtual agents.

Overview

The finance and accounting industry will continues to transform with a significant change of pace and associated risk as we advance into the digital future.  Which means finance and accounting professionals should monitor technology developments and remain agile.

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accounting and finance

Benchmarking Accounting and Finance Functions

The financial sector is experiencing an influx of change and transition as technology becomes incorporated into more and more of its practices. Of course, the intention is to streamline processes and automate some of the more mundane tasks associated with everyday work in the field. It’s an exciting time marked by a heightened need for new practices and the appropriate talent to operate it. The 2018 edition of Benchmarking Accounting and Finance Functions focuses on such trends and what it means for the sector as a whole.

How Does Technology Influence Accounting and Finance?

The financial sector is geared toward producing results. Now, more than ever before, there is a requirement to drive efficiency, reduce costs, and simultaneously create value. At the core of the changes are the finance leaders who are not only required to understand the technological changes but the regulations that seem to be created right alongside them.

Is it More of the Same?

It may not seem like such things are novel concepts in the accounting and finance world. The truth is, they aren’t. However, the speed and intensity in which changes are being made are certainly something that working professionals have likely not experienced in their careers. Professionals, new and seasoned, can benefit from understanding the landscape of the industry and what those changes could mean for their future and the future of the sector.

Intended Audience

Who would benefit from taking a look at the report? Seasoned professionals may have the business concepts down, but one of the hardest things for them will be learning the constantly changing technology that is impacting their work more than ever before. Novice professionals will also need to understand the bigger picture of how the technology works with the traditional approach to finance.

Overview

Staying abreast of the latest news in accounting and finance will help professionals have a stronger grasp of the climate of the industry. It could help people prepare for training and even understand the bigger picture of how changes could impact every day as well as the future of the work.

For more financial industry news, check out: New Changes to PCAOB and What They Mean.

auditing and accounting

Where Is Technology Taking Auditing and Accounting?

Technology is paving the way for the newest developments in auditing and accounting. It seems as soon as one cutting-edge concept is developed another one is already emerging. This type of advancement has not been seen in the industry in decades.

The Professionals Weigh In

The entire sector is interested in learning more about how technology influences the financial reporting industry. There is much to learn from professionals such as Ryan Teeter, Clinical Assistant Professor of Accounting Information Systems at the University of Pittsburg. His background in technology and accounting is the ideal vantage point to learn from.

Teeter says that many advances are due to hobby projects that are started by auditors. From there, it grows into a more complex system that is used throughout a bigger portion of the workplace or the industry as a whole. The most popular systems created are those that streamline and automate routine tasks.

Benefits of Automation

Not only does automation add an extra layer of value to the audit, but it has other advantages as well. Teeter says, “It also means that they’re helping reduce their workflow and their workforce because a lot of the routine tasks can be done by a computer as opposed to a staff accountant.”

There is always the concern that automation may lead to the need for fewer people. However, while automating some of the tasks could be beneficial and time-saving, there is still a need for human judgment and decision-making. The technology may be able to get the analytics, but there will still be a need for people to evaluate it.

Overview of Technology in Auditing and Accounting

We see technology become a helpful asset in auditing and accounting. It can be used to streamline some of the processes without totally disregarding the need for accountants and auditors. Technology should be considered a tool and not a replacement for the professional. However, it will be critical for professionals to learn and adapt to new technologies as they become more and more incorporated in the financial sector.  

For more audit related news, check out Current AICPA Guidelines on Prior Period Audits