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Transforming Finance Through Automation, Transparency & Responsiveness

What are some of the best practices to be deployed in accelerating finance and accounting transformation in an enterprise? This article originally appeared in Frontier Enterprise, and features insights from EY’s session at InTheBlack Singapore.

The pressure for digital transformation (DX) in the accounting and finance industry rages on and seems set to escalate further year after year. To keep professionals up to speed on the latest best practices and technology paradigms, BlackLine, a leading financial controls and automation software provider, organised a full-day summit on 15 May at the Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore.

Accounting and finance professionals are historically known for obsessing over quantification and audits. Digital transformation is set to change this key business support function into a valuable strategic function.

A key driver of this transformation is trust. BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker kicked off the event explaining the critical balancing act of building and maintaining trust at all levels of the industry.

Other than having the right people with the core competencies in place, good communication, transparency, culture, consistency, and empathy are key aspects of setting a foundation of trust on which to launch digital transformation.

Therese pointed out that loving what we do is what gives meaning to our work life, and digital transformation can bring out the meaning in finance and accounting to everyone in the organisation—instead of people considering the function as a necessary burden.

Famous brand names such as Hershey’s, Nike and Campbell Soup, and even Jumbo Seafood (Singapore), were cited as champions of trust, efficiency and insights—perennial attributes that underline any organisation’s survival and growth.

BlackLine Chief Operating Officer Marc Huffman joined the conversation by reiterating how BlackLine’s 2,700 customers rely on the platform to gain the trust, efficiency and insights needed to thrive in the disruption era.

The Future of Finance in the Transformative Age

How will digitisation affect the future of the finance function? Joon Arn Chiang, Managing Partner (APAC Financial Accounting Advisory Services) of Ernst & Young Global Limited, was on hand to paint an accurate picture of current and imminent trends in the unrelenting pace of change sweeping through the industry.

To ride through this global inflexion point, the finance function has to keep up with the DX pressures affecting every function of the business, as well as respond to rapidly changing market conditions fueled by unpredictable online and social media trends.

In reference to the matter of a trust culture, brought up by Therese, Joon Arn called for the finance function to be more “forward-looking” in enhancing management forecasting and risk management. Financial data has to complement non-financial data (e.g., customer behaviour trends) to achieve such predictive tasks.

Joon Arn’s colleague Doris Cheng, APAC Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) Digital Leader, shared how Ernst & Young Global leverages BlackLine and other technologies to help clients retain the “people element” when undergoing DX.

While technology can automate and even radically transform business, its potential is only as great as the people who use and manage it. Therefore, any DX journey has to centre around corporate culture, the human element, and the trust and faith that bind talent to an organisation’s business success. 

Attend InTheBlack 2019 in Los Angeles to gain even more insights like these, through inspiring keynotes, education, networking, and professional development.