As financial technology or “fintech” continues to transform the financial services industry, finance itself has evolved from being a largely back-office function to one deserving of a front-row seat in an organization’s strategic mission.
In a recent webinar, The Future of Canadian Financial Services: Are You Ready?, Deloitte and NetSuite teamed up to discuss the top trends that are impacting the financial services industry this year. Here are seven top trends to watch:
- Mobile finance applications. Self-service financial applications focused on risk management, international payments, analytics and other services have helped finance companies serve a more mobile, on-the-go customer base. Self-service applications, once a “nice to have” concept, have become mandatory to ensure that finance operations move quickly and efficiently from the desktop to the laptop to the mobile device. “Wherever you go,” said Rakesh Shetty, partner with Deloitte Canada, “your applications, systems and processes will follow you.”
- Improved employee experience. “Our experience at work is very important, especially when it comes to motivating talent,” said Shetty, who recommends companies give incoming finance talent the “Amazon experience” with the technology they use. The focus should be on ensuring ease of use, flexibility and scalability .
- Real-time analytics and decision making. In the finance function, it’s no longer enough to just “close the books and have an effective month-end cycle,” Shetty said. With a centralized data source (like one that NetSuite provides with its unified cloud-based enterprise resource planning platform), companies can bring together data from finance and other departments to gain an end-to-end view of real-time data. This, in turn, can support better decision making.
- More automation. Shetty sees more tools and solutions that automate processes to help improve the user experience coming into play in the finance sector, where many organizations have moved from the proof of concept/pilot project phase into real-life applications. Deloitte recently worked with a financial institution that automated its entire request intake process. It’s now using automation to manage 100 reports with 85 requests each week. “That automated intake process allowed the bank to free up its resources to do more value-driven work,” Shetty explained.
- Global operations. The financial services sector is spreading its wings and tapping into international networks. “Our client base is from all over the globe, so we want to make sure that the technology that supports our finance functions is also geared towards globalization,” Shetty pointed out. “That includes multi-GAAP and regulatory requirements for those [specific] countries.”
- Predictive modeling. “I see a lot of Fintechs moving towards prediction-based models to actually [handle] some of the decision making when it comes to cash flow,” said Shetty, who identifies weekly profit and loss (P&L) reports and weekly forecasting as two areas where predictive forecasting can be applied successfully in the financial sector. This will allow companies in the financial services sector to use historical data for better decision making, planning and forecasting.
- Finance in the cloud. Thanks to the cloud, Shetty said the focus on applications has shifted away from the implementation itself and been put on operationalization, modernization and continuous evolution. “The beauty of cloud technology is that it’s built for speed-to-value,” Shetty said. It also pares down an implementation process that used to take 12 to 18 months to a shorter 20-24 weeks (on average). NetSuite’s average SuiteSuccess implementation time is 100 days, for example. Going forward, he said embracing future software releases and ensuring that finance teams are as nimble as possible will both become even more critical. “This will drive end-to-end operations,” Shetty concluded. “As you continuously grow and scale, you’ll have a solid foundation that will sustain that growth.”
Cloud ERP that Checks all of the Boxes
As a leading ERP provider with a robust suite of cloud-based financial management solutions, NetSuite gives companies the tools they need to address these trends. From real-time metrics and reporting to automation and self-service capabilities to an access-from-anywhere platform, the ERP system expedites daily financial transactions, accelerates the financial close process and ensures compliance.
NetSuite also puts financial data into the hands of the people who need it, without making them ask the finance department for that information. “Users can see everything on their screens and use that data to do their jobs more effectively,” said David Silver, master principal solution consultant at Oracle NetSuite. If someone needs a specific report on a monthly basis, for instance, he or she can run that report themselves when they need it.
NetSuite also provides “access from anywhere”— a capability that’s become increasingly important for remote workforces. And, the platform includes native mobile applications for both iOS and Android. And because it offers multi-entity accounting, NetSuite also helps organizations manage the increasingly-global operations that Shetty highlighted in the webinar. “Whether someone is in Canada, the US, the UK or Tokyo, they can select one entity and view all of the data related specifically to that entity,” Silver said. With a just a few clicks, the same users can switch to a full view of their entire company.