Over the past decade, the nature of financial reporting, controlling and accounting positions has evolved to meet the changing needs of users in financial institutions. Business and capital markets have become more challenging, with greater complexity in business models, sources of risk and uncertainty, as well as greater sophistication of how risk is managed.
Finance departments have long been investing in IT solutions, something which has become more pressing this financial year with greater demands from the business coming into play. The finance function is becoming an increasingly integral partner to the business and financial directors and CFOs are facing more markets and greater competition, despite often having less resources, less money and less time. Moreover, an astronomical amount of information is being generated on a daily basis from multiple sources and across disparate business departments, all of which could have an impact on finance, particularly from a risk management perspective. This era of austerity is one which requires continuous innovation, but a cultural shift and change in mindset within organisations is required.
This evolution reflects a desire for information that is relevant to users, even if such information may be more subjective and less reliable. Financial reporting disclosure requirements and practices have also had to respond to these changes by shifting from simply providing breakdowns of line items on the face of the financial statements to providing more detailed disclosures, including disclosures of assumptions, models, alternative measurement bases and sources of estimation uncertainty, amongst others. In some ways, disclosures have become the balancing item in the calculus of how to provide credible, decision-useful information.
With a shift to more data-driven decision-making, the role of the finance department has been elevated from a back office operational function to a more strategic, advisory role. Finance teams must become more agile and responsive to organisational needs in this new role. They must shift their time away from tedious data aggregation functions and spend more time delivering value-added analysis, identifying trends and using analytics to advise business decisions that impact profitability.
We can identify four main trends in the finance of financial institutions:
– Working backwards from the balance sheet
– More transparency through accounting international standards
– Close collaboration of risk and finance
– The move to integration