ASM Masters Complex Financial Reporting With Wdesk

ASM must file with two separate ratings agencies. Wdesk allowed them to use one set of numbers for both reports, and easily transition to XBRL tagging.

Anxiety is high for most financial reporting managers, especially during filing periods. Are all the numbers correct? Will they make the deadline?

Hans Zweers knows all about it. He is Director of External Reporting and Treasury at ASM International. The company, headquartered in the Netherlands, is a leading supplier of semiconductor equipment for wafer processing. Among his many responsibilities, Zweers oversees external reporting for ASM along with two team members. Because the company’s stock is traded on the NASDAQ and Euronext Amsterdam Stock Exchange, Zweers must prepare two different sets of financial reports several times a year. He then has to get them reviewed, approved, and filed by two different deadlines. “It’s quite a job, to prepare two sets of financial reports and two annual reports,” he says. And it can cause serious anxiety.

When Zweers arrived at ASM in 2009, the financial reporting team was creating reports for the SEC and European regulators using word processing and spreadsheet software to update previous reports. The process was onerous, and Zweers felt that the critical documents were hard to safeguard. After the reports were complete on his end, he would have to send the SEC reports to a printer in the United States for EDGARizing, which took a substantial amount of time.

Wdesk Makes It Simple

When ASM had to start adding XBRL tags to its SEC reports, the company turned to a third party for support. But they encountered problems during the grace period. “It was not 100 percent correct, and we didn’t have the time to adjust it,” says Zweers. “That’s the moment when I thought we should look for something new and better.”

“Something new and better” was the Wdesk SEC reporting solution. ASM was quick to adopt the platform. Workiva professionals completed all of the setup work on ASM’s reports using the company’s previous SEC filing. After the transition, Zweers says the document was already well on its way to completion. “It was working comfortably—it was great!” Thanks to Wdesk, Zweers says his anxiety has gone way down.

Wdesk is a superior application. It’s solid, it’s smart, and it works.

— Hans Zweers, Director of External Reporting and Treasury

The platform’s linking feature, made possible by single document datamodel technology, is one key reason. Zweers set up a single workbook that includes all of ASM’s financials and data. When Zweers creates reports for the SEC and regulators in the Netherlands he pulls data from the workbook to populate the documents knowing the data is current and the numbers are linked. “It’s very easy to combine all of our filings in Wdesk,” he says. “I only have to add a figure once, and then I can use it in several places. And I’m confident that the figures are correct throughout the document.”

Zweers lets Workiva Professional Services team handle XBRL tagging responsibilities, relieving even more stress for his team. Formerly, he had been dependent on his auditors and a third-party printer for XBRL tagging support. “It was hard to manage, and it caused a lot of pain and effort for our auditors,” he says. “Workiva handles our XBRL tagging very well.” Not only is the process working better, but it’s also saving ASM money. Zweers estimates that he’s cut his additional XBRL tagging expenses in half.

Total Flexibility

ASM is no longer reliant on third-party vendors and their timelines. “The best part is that we are able to file our reports the moment we want to. We aren’t dependent on anyone else,” says Zweers.

The best part is that we are able to file our reports the moment we want to. We aren't dependent on anyone else.

— Hans Zweers, Director of External Reporting and Treasury

Wdesk also resolved his concern about protecting the company’s documents. All of the data and reports are encrypted on the cloud-based platform and safeguarded with customizable security and permissions options. But they’re still readily accessible anytime and anywhere he needs them.

Wdesk gives Zweers the flexibility he needs to manage a complicated filing process between two countries and a plethora of deadlines. One particular situation, he says, illustrates that flexibility.

According to laws in the Netherlands, a company must post a statutory annual report online six weeks in advance of shareholder meetings. That six-week date just happened to coincide with the day ASM was launching its new website. It could have been a major challenge, but with Wdesk it wasn’t. “There was a lot of pressure at that moment,” says Zweers. “On the day we had to issue the documents, we were able to do it all at the same time. It wasn’t a problem.”

Wdesk demonstrated its flexibility again when Zweers had the company’s graphic designer populate ASM’s glossy annual report using output from Wdesk and then upload the content to the website. “That was a huge benefit,” he notes.

Living Document

Initially, Zweers was only using the SEC reporting solution during filing periods, but now he’s using it much more frequently to create what he calls a “living document.”

I'm confident that the figures are correct throughout the document.

— Hans Zweers, Director of External Reporting and Treasury

When he has an idea or information for his reports, Zweers makes a quick note in Wdesk. “I want this to be a living document. It helps me with planning throughout the year because I get a much better report, and it reflects my year more accurately,” he explains. “That way, all of our non-financial information will be done before Q4, so we can focus on financials during January and February.”

When asked about his anxiety today, Zweers doesn’t hesitate. “Wdesk has helped enormously. It’s almost zero!”

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