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Clubhouse Event: The next wave of innovation in financial operations

Introducing technology in a field that has predominantly relied on manual excel skills to keep records is a topic that has sparked interest among many today. We usually do not hear of automating accounting, bank reconciliations and other fields in finance. ITILITE collaborated with Fintech & Payments club to host a clubhouse session onThe next wave of innovations in financial operations,” to discuss the automation of manual processes.  

The speakers focused on unfolding the problem areas in the automation of finance processes, addressing the same and discussing possible viable solutions to reduce manual intervention in the handling of financial records. 

The three esteemed speakers were:

The discussion was seamlessly moderated by Anuradha Kumari, Global FP & Head at PayU. 

The discussion was broken down into three stages: Identifying the problem statement, what strategies can be adopted in order to address it and finally the solutions which can be implemented to create a better roadmap for the future. 

Stage 1: Identifying the problem statement:

Before diving into the problem, the speakers wanted to clarify the meaning of the keyword of the discussion which is “financial operations.” All operations between two institutional units and relating to financial assets and liabilities can be defined as financial operations. The next step is to identify the problems which lie within this realm. Some of the problems listed by our speakers were:

  • The supporting pillars of a company for example real estate, travel and expense, procurement etc are usually sidelined and that is where manual intervention barges in. Mayank shared his experience where a bank that was offering credit cards to their customers was guilty of sidelining its own spends; all audits, reconciliations, payments which are happening to support running the business were being run on excels. It is ironic that a bank that facilitated prompt transaction requests for the clients neglected its own financial operations.
  • Integration of different modules like accounts payable and receivables, asset accounting, funds management, travel management etc is a big challenge for finance and requires long hours. Additionally, the cost of innovation is high.
  • Prioritization and allocation of appropriate resources is another challenge that makes the finance side operations usually manual.
  • Companies of all sizes struggle with bank reconciliations. Sourabh pointed out that the pain points across finance functions are endless and the maximum portion of it comes from manual work. A useful quote shared by him was “If you’re facing a challenge, then you’re not the only one. Figure out the lowest hanging fruit, it’s usually the sweetest.” 

Stage 2: Addressing the problem:

The best way to do it is to create a good business case that aligns with the overall goals of the organization. In terms of determining the priority in case of goals, revenue and top-line growth are definitely important, however, the said growth cannot be achieved if internal company hygiene is not maintained. The organization has to be conscious and has to think of delivering internal and external processes scalability rather than just growth. The popular myth that only people with engineering backgrounds can deliver results is no longer true. There are several no-code platforms that can be utilized to automate your finance operations. Hence, prioritising all bandwidth is essential to address the problem. 

However, when prioritizing it is important to not overestimate and look for nirvana solutions. 

Ricardo shared, “Think of incremental improvements, they are much easier to implement and will help to define the bigger picture. Focus on specific problems and produce solutions for the same.” 

Stage 3: Possible solutions that can be offered:

A tip shared by Sourabh was to have a POC (proof of concept) to showcase the kind of solution that can work. This will help in giving more clarity while preparing the roadmap. One of the biggest challenges in finance operations is bank reconciliations. The solution to this can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Identify what transactions were going through the bank accounts
  • Where the transactions are originating from
  • Build an audit trail

At the origin of the transactions, including some keywords, references while sending the payment instructions to the bank helps to create the audit trail. 

Once the audit trail is created, you can identify the origin of the transactions and match it to the originating transaction. This helps to bring down the amount/number of transactions that are to be reconciled or mapped. This also makes the company’s lives much easier because they know the workflow through which a particular expense has come through. The expenditure will happen only in compliance with the rules to minimize the effort spent in post expenditure audit. 

“Control spends before rather than after.” Ricardo Morgado, CTS X Disruptor, Norvatis 

With the whole world moving towards automation, finance is one area that is often left behind. However, the increasing buzz around transitioning to a completely digital system has percolated to the finance departments too and they are also exploring opportunities to migrate to a quicker, hassle-free workflow. To get a scoop of more such discussions, follow us on our LinkedIn channel.

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