We would all like to think we have tight control over the accounting team and their accounts and reconciliation processes, but in reality this control is extremely limited.

According to the recent Adra Match survey of European and American finance staff, most CFOs struggle to gain control over their monthly close process. In fact, an overwhelming 92% of finance staff surveyed said that they were not satisfied with the quality of the financial close process. Take a look at the financial close benchmark survey – infographic.

Other results in the survey make it even clearer that CFOs and financial departments are lacking in five key areas of control: 

1.   Complete visibility over the account close process

“Visibility’ is most definitely an area of concern in the accounting sector at the moment. With increased scrutiny in the wake of the financial crisis, CFOs are expected to have complete visibility over the account close process. However, according to the financial close benchmark survey results, only 8% of finance staff are satisfied with the visibility of their financial close and this means the vast majority are frustrated, often experiencing delays, errors or non-compliance.

2.   Reported number should be trustworthy

Laws demands it (like Sarbanes-Oxley Act in its extreme), business demands it, and everyone takes it for granted.

According to the survey only 28 percent of the CFO trusted their own reported numbers to the Balance Sheet and the Profit & Loss statement, due to the flaws in their Month End Close Process. What is worse, the staff at front performing the reconciliation trusted them less. 

month end close, financial close, accounts reconciliation software

3.   Full compliance

All CFOs aim toward full compliance, but very rarely is it actually achieved. For example, a quarter of all finance staff surveyed have no second approver Tweet this stat. This leaves the door wide open for errors, material misstatements and fraudulent behaviour.

It is not hard to see that with a lack of visibility and real-time information, CFOs will struggle to have their finance team fully compliant through the account close process.

4.   Increased productivity

CFOs know better than most the importance of improving the bottom line to drive growth. Focus on the bottom line usually means trimming all unnecessary expenses and improving productivity and efficiency. Yet this can seem like an impossible task for the finance department.

The survey results show that 85% of finance staff already work overtime during the monthly close process Tweet this stat, demonstrating that productivity is already less than ideal. The fact that over 50% of finance staff usually do not close the books within the first three days past due date only confirms that productivity and efficiency must be improved in order to reach a smooth financial close.

5.   Faster financial close process

Equipped with a faster close, CFOs could focus on gaining complete visibility and compliance while finance staff could be more productive, supplying real-time information to their CFO.

Currently a massive 79% of finance staff are under pressure for a faster financial close yet, astonishingly, nearly two thirds of finance staff are still using only Excel spreadsheets (and perhaps a pen and paper) to complete their account reconciliation process. Excel may be a useful and relatively cheap tool, but it is certainly not the quickest or most reliable way to reconcile thousands of accounts each month.

If CFOs are going to really tighten their grasp on the accounts process they should investigate the enabling balance sheet reconciliation overview software like Adra Match’s BALANCER.

Why? 

With an overview dashboard, CFOs can quickly gain that much needed visibility over the whole financial close process. CFOs can gather real-time information at a click to boost decision-making, monitor compliance to meet with national standards, digitally archive statements for quick audits and automate the majority of their reconciliation process for a faster close. 

If you’re ready to gain control over your balance sheet reconciliation process then it’s time to discover BALANCER – the next generation of accounting software in the Cloud.

Which of these 5 key challenges holds you back from seizing control of your own financial close process? – Let us know in the comment section below.