Statutory Reporting During COVID-19: Takeaways from the Executive Roundtable
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the legal entity reporting processes of multinational corporations? Were there any surprises in regard to the resilience of their processes during the crisis? And, what’s next for multinationals as they plan their legal entity reporting for the next 12–18 months?
Workiva recently sponsored an invitation-only executive roundtable where financial leaders from 13 companies shared their insight and guidance on these questions and more. If you weren’t able to attend, here is a quick look at the most revealing insights.
Some hiccups, but coping surprisingly well
The pace in which the COVID-19 pandemic consumed countries around the world left little time for companies to prepare. Many had to shift to a remote work environment, seemingly overnight.
During the discussion, each executive talked about the unique challenges their businesses faced. And, it was not smooth sailing for every company. While the initial firefighting was difficult, once those hiccups were sorted out, the executives noted that the transition was not as bumpy as they had expected.
This is especially notable since the lockdown came during the heaviest statutory audit period for many of these companies, which meant the audit immediately had to become virtual. It required some thinking ahead about how to handle any documents that existed as hard copies, and ultimately, it did slow down the audit process for at least one company.
But, why was this transition relatively smooth for these multinationals? The secret is the groundwork they laid out years in advance.
One executive spoke about how they have been transforming their finance function over the last three years with a focus on cloud solutions.
“We had some small pockets of issues, but I couldn’t even imagine what this transition would have been like if we had not already moved to the cloud,” he said.
He continued by sharing that he felt the processes and applications at his company stood up quite well to remote work. However, he found the biggest challenges were at a personal level.
Colleagues trying to balance the educational and personal demands of a young family, along with their own professional responsibilities, often led to longer work hours.
Additionally, one executive commented how she missed the small things you experience in an office environment. “I noticed I was missing those quick touch points I would have with colleagues around the office, so I had to make a point of going out of my way to ensure I was staying connected with my team,” she said.
Source: The Ortus Club
Once restrictions were put in place, the companies had to change and act fast. Some moved quickly to put in business continuity and security measures while also ensuring they had backups of data.
For another company, the lockdown hit right in the middle of their ERP transformation. This complicated matters and meant that their teams had to learn how to do things a little differently. To help facilitate this process, this company standardised working hours for its teams throughout the world in order for larger groups of team members to be online at the same time.
As the way people were working began to change, the companies had to review the ownership over certain processes while also re-examining how these processes worked and were designed.
Statutory reporting in the next normal
For one company with thousands of legal entities responsible for producing over 600 financial statements each year, the current environment placed an emphasis on the need to simplify and automate their statutory reporting process moving forward.
Some panelists commented on how the pandemic strained the outdated systems they work with. As a result, they are excited about moving toward the cloud and the advantages of its transformative effects.
One executive from the travel industry spoke about the recent acquisitions her company made. This activity has added even more layers to an already complex reporting structure. Since her company will be handling all statutory reporting for these acquisitions in-house, she is planning to turn to a solution to help her team centralise and standardise their statutory reporting.
Accelerating the future of statutory reporting
The insight shared by these executives demonstrates the importance of empowering statutory reporting teams with solutions that not only help maintain compliance, but also help minimise risk and drive better business decisions—regardless of where they happen to work.
Download this infographic to learn more about how organisations are planning the future of their statutory reporting.