Coming Soon… The Unstoppable Force of Real-Time Reporting
Once upon a time, back in the world of pen and ink, regulators were shackled by a historical view of the companies and markets they were tasked with overseeing. Now, almost 30 years into the digital revolution, they’re still receiving a dated view of yesterday, last month or even last year. But that’s all changing – and the direction of travel is as unmistakable as it is unstoppable. Welcome to the brave new world of real time reporting.
The quarterly submission is dead. There, I said it. Of course, its strangulated death cries will endure for a few more years, but the days of submitting a VAT return, liquidity report, or set of company accounts (to name just a few) up to nine months after period end are numbered. Governments and regulators from London to Madrid and Oslo to Warsaw are gearing-up for an on-demand future, where financial performance information is delivered as a live digital snapshot, not on an after-the-fact paper form.
Treat your data tributaries
The demands on finance teams, particularly at complex multinationals, sound onerous, at least in the transition phase. You might have tax obligations in seven different countries, with the same number of different deadlines, filing frequencies, compilation methodologies and delivery formats. Some paper, some electronic, some real time, some retrospective. Ouch.
Better to re-organise now by consolidating and centralising your entire pan-European filing and reporting operation on a single unified platform. That’s the holy grail I’m working towards with my team at Arkk Solutions. Phase by phase and release by release, we’re making it a reality.
Real time reporting is set to shift the mindset at businesses across the continent – from a hectic and reactive clean-up operation just before the filing deadline, to an altogether more disciplined and proactive process.
Here’s an analogy. Imagine you’re a public utility like a water company. Right now, you’re treating all the water you’ve collected at one almighty reservoir. But imagine how much more efficient life would be if you treated the incoming water upstream, in each of its tributaries, long before it reached the delivery network. Fewer bottlenecks, less risk.
Mindsets and skillsets
So, are you ready? Not just for the shift in mindset, but the shift in skillset needed in your team? It’s time, perhaps, to start getting your head around what it might mean for you and your business a few years from now.
The positive news is that although tech is enabling regulators to be ever-more data hungry, technology can also play a key role in smoothing your transformation. Two thirds of the clients we surveyed earlier this year were excited about the prospect of Machine Learning support to help save time and effort with their regulatory reporting. This support is coming, sooner than you think.
It’s time to draw breath and look ahead. Yes, we’re all on a journey together towards real time reporting – but it won’t be standard in all places or for all financial disciplines at once. At best, it will be a phased but inevitable process. Contrast the world of today where (according to Deloitte) 87% of UK businesses physically type their VAT numbers into the HMRC website, with the seamless new world of automated, AI-enhanced reporting – and you’ll see we have some way to go. At Arkk Solutions, we’re already en route, and you’re welcome to join us.