A ‘Life-Changing’ Solution: Why Investec Uses the Workiva Platform for Financial Reporting
- Being listed on both the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange means that the Investec team has a lot of mandates to comply with and faces pressure to deliver on their investors’ and customers’ expectations
- Manual processes were causing errors during the reporting process, adding to the reporting team’s workload and leaving them feeling that they lacked control
- Without being able to blackline, the team also felt insecure about the data that they were looking at—working from multiple versions of the same report, it was difficult for them to have full confidence in their data
- With the Workiva platform in place, they are now confident about the integrity of their reports, the consistency of their data, and can collaborate with ease
- Blacklining and the ability to sync and publish have been instrumental in helping the team to regain control of their mammoth reporting processes
- The Workiva platform has also enabled them to increase efficiencies across the board—they no longer need to worry about risky manual processes and can instead fully focus on delivering the reports that their investors and regulators need
Why They Chose Workiva
- Regulatory Reporting
Anglo-South African international banking and wealth management group Investec is proud of its unique, open, and non-hierarchical culture. Collaboration and connectivity are incredibly important to their close-knit reporting group. Straddling trans-continental barriers, they work together to file reports that fulfill both the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s and London Stock Exchange’s mandates and that deliver on its investors’ and customers’ expectations.
Their dedication to excellence is supported by their entrepreneurial spirit. Sheree Schroeder, Risk Reporting Analyst at Investec, put a fine point on this. “If part of a process isn’t working, then we are enabled to find a solution. We are able to speak out when something doesn’t work and say that we need to find something that does. As a team, we are able to better our business.”
The realization that their financial reporting processes weren’t as efficient as they could—or should—be led them to Workiva. Abi Wright, Investor Relations, described this moment. “We couldn’t rely on the numbers that we were seeing—sometimes they would change, which was frightening and added a lot of extra time to the entire reporting process. There was a lot of dead time when we were just waiting, and there were version control issues. We didn’t feel like we were fully in control. So, we decided that we needed to change.”
Investec started using the Workiva cloud platform in 2020 to produce interim and annual reports for their listed entities and subsidiaries across the UK and South Africa. Jade Schmulian, who works on the financial reporting team, described the decision as “life changing.”
Facing a complex reporting challenge
As a dual-listed company, the Investec team is well aware of the complexities inherent to financial reporting. Jo Tilley, Investor Relations, recalled the challenges: “Compiling these reports is complex. You need to consider feedback alongside regulatory requirements to ensure that all reports have the same voice, all while working independently and siloed. Without the right tools, you can end up cross-referencing everything—which you really shouldn’t have to do.”
Sheree also pointed to having to contend with a rapidly evolving regulatory environment. “As well as keeping everyone happy and making the reports punchy and relevant, we need to keep track of everything in the U.K. and South Africa. The speed at which regulations move, it’s super important that we are working with a system that’s flexible and allows us to be able to keep moving things over. There’s enough going on—we want to be able to take the headache out of the mechanics.”
But Investec did have a headache. They used to work with very manual processes before moving to a system that was partially automated and didn’t allow them real-time control. When changes were implemented, it could take an hour or two for a new version to appear that may or may not have included the change. And although the team was used to working collaboratively, the division of work made it difficult to connect all the dots and work with agility and efficiency.
According to Jo, “We were each responsible for different sections of the report. We would break the books down to separate sections and each work on them. Then, if you wanted the full book with all five sections...it would take forever.”
On top of this—and their struggle with inconsistent data—they had limited ability to blackline, which meant that they were “constantly insecure about what we were looking at,” said Sheree. They knew that they needed a new solution to simplify their work, increase their confidence in the final reports, and give them the control that they need over the entire end-to-end process.
Taking control with Workiva
Jade was first introduced to Workiva a few years before Investec brought the platform on board. “I remember being on a call with a colleague on the same team and being amazed that I could work from anywhere—even on a beach—and still do the annual report. So, after we really started suffering and missing deadlines that we really couldn’t miss, I knew that it was time to reach out.”
They were looking for a solution that could solve their biggest reporting challenges: address version control, enable collaboration, ensure data integrity and consistency, and that would put them in the driving seat. They saw that Workiva offered all of this, but still approached the platform with healthy skepticism. Sheree said, “We didn’t believe that there was a system that would satisfy so many of our needs.” But, after a robust investigation of tools on the market, they realized that it was all possible with Workiva.
Abi explained, “We asked others who were using the Workiva platform for their experiences, and it was very positive. Ultimately, we couldn’t find an alternative solution that met our needs in the way that the Workiva platform does.”
Now, with Workiva in place, the team is able to work within one central workspace and with fully integrated processes. Blacklining—described by Jo as “an absolute game changer that we absolutely love”—has introduced full accountability and transparency to the process. Data traceability and linking ensure consistency. Investec is able to sync and publish with ease. They have a platform that can be accessed at any time, from anywhere. They have drastically improved efficiency. And, despite always working collaboratively, they were able to be more collaborative straight away—the ability to see what other team members are working on and to have that insight has proven to be invaluable.
And they are backed up by Workiva’s support team who always make themselves available as and when the need arises. Jade outlined the value that they’ve received from the team. “Our dedicated customer support manager (CSM) has been amazing. She has always been available, and we feel like we have always been supported.” Jo agreed and shared, “It feels like Workiva wants us to be successful. And that the product will help us to get there. That’s been the best part of working with Workiva: as a team, we have the ability to provide and receive constant feedback, maintain tight communication, and establish touchpoints. And we’re working alongside Workiva to achieve this.”
Jade explains the difference that the Workiva platform makes. “Before, we were very typesetter driven. Now, we’re authors. And, with the help of the system, we are responsible ourselves for the content that we’re producing.” This is a sentiment that’s backed up by Sheree. “You think of life before Workiva and after Workiva. It’s a system that’s so intuitive and has saved us so much time. And it’s incredibly flexible—you feel like you can go in and make adjustments without worrying about breaking anything.”
For Jo, it has made a world of difference. “With Workiva, we are the doers. We have the time that we need to properly manage the process. We have the control.”