Strategy

2017 CFRI Conference: Corporate Reporting in an Era of Disruption

EY’s Better Finance Podcast discusses how the financial reporting function can help their organizations evolve and change in the era of disruption.

“There is no more status quo.”

Looking back on the many topics covered at the Current Financial Reporting Issues Conference, this single quote seemed to lie at the center of all of the inspiring discussions.

We recently sat down with FEI’s 2017 Current Financial Reporting Issues Conference co-chairs, Sharon Virag and Heather Dixon, to discuss some of their top takeaways from the conference and their outlook regarding the challenges and opportunities facing the financial reporting community today.

According to Virag and Dixon, finance has entered a period in which there will never not be change, disruption or new technology that is impacting the role of finance. To succeed in the future, finance leaders should hone their skills of resilience and get in the mindset of being comfortable with constant change.

When speaking more specifically to their own experience in leading controller roles, Virag and Dixon both noted how the traditional controller responsibilities – technical accounting, SEC reporting and closing the books – are now expanding into many other areas as a result of technology as well. “I think that first category that we all saw as the traditional role is really just minimum table stakes now. There’s not really one set of responsibilities,” said Dixon.

This expansion of responsibilities is also blurring traditional roles and lines within finance as well, bringing controllers more closely involved with tasks that would traditionally be considered management reporting or financial planning and analysis.

Technology once viewed as a way to restructure and simplify ERP systems has evolved into tools the finance function is using to manage workflow, share real-time information and build a future around flexibility while still maintaining data accuracy and assurance.

Technology in the finance function, once viewed as simply ERP systems, has evolved to include tools to manage workflow, share real-time information and create visualizations while still maintaining data accuracy.

“Now we’re talking about stretching and trying to really bring automation where there is none,” said Virag.

As finance professionals continue to work more closely with new technologies, the main focus will be to figure out how humans and new technology can work together. Technology can help finance professionals gather tremendous amounts of data, but human talent is still relied upon to interpret and contextualize these results.

“We can’t be fearful of that technology and the automation…we have to recognize that humans working with those tools can come to such a better answer that we should embrace it,” said Virag.

As companies continue to grapple with disruption at nearly every corner, finance has the opportunity to play an extremely important role in helping organizations develop the flexibility and agility required to help meet the needs of these challenging times.

“I think our ability to harness that and parse it and present it in a way that’s really meaningful is critical,” said Dixon.

For more information on corporate reporting, listen in to our conversation with Sharon and Heather at iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher or visit ey.com/betterfinance.