BlackLine Blog

July 06, 2023

Reduce Vacation Stress with Financial Close Automation

Intelligent Automation
4 Minute Read

Jim Buchanan

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We recently wrote about the challenges accountants experience when they think about taking a holiday from work and offered ways you can manage and mitigate these struggles. If you haven’t read that article, you can check it out here.

To continue our theme of how accountants can unplug for a bit of summer holiday fun, let’s focus in on some data about why accountants and other F&A professionals experience so much stress, and then dive into how financial close automation solutions can reduce that stress.

Accountants Are Burned Out!

According to a study by UK-based Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (caba), recent research showed that 55% of accountants suffered from stress and burnout, compared to 41% of employees in other industries. Worse, 79% of accountants believe that stress and poor mental health are a problem in the industry. According to caba’s research, the primary reasons for this are heavy workload (87%), long hours (72%), and complex work with no room for error (63%).

Adding to these factors is the business-critical nature of the work itself. Jordan Jantz, a writer for Florida-based Rasmussen University, notes that “Accountants are the barrier against fraud, protecting investors, consumers and the company itself.”

And, according to the Chicago-based Journal of Accountancy, the time-sensitive close process typically exacerbates accountants’ stress. Quoting third-party surveys, the journal notes that 87% of accountants say they work overtime during the financial close process, with more than half saying that stress levels inevitably rise during these periods.

Accountants Aren’t Known for Taking Time Off

You probably already know this, but accountants aren’t well-known for taking vacations. They’re known for an incredible work ethic, putting in a lot of hard work, and not taking enough time off.

In fact, according to a Robert Walters Career Lifestyle Survey, “39% of accountants do not expect to use their full quota of annual leave.” The most common causes, cited by 60% of respondents, were pressure to complete a project, busy workloads, or having applications for leave turned down. The research also reveals that one in five accountants who don’t take their entire bloc of leave say they cannot afford to accommodate a holiday.

If that all sounds familiar, and if time off isn’t on your schedule right now, you really should consider it to maintain your mental health and avoid burnout. When you’re at your best, you’ll do your best work, which benefits your company and your stakeholders in the long term.

By determining the best time to take off based on your firm’s business cycle, planning your workload and coverage needs, communicating in advance to your manager and colleagues, and determining your clients’ and stakeholders’ needs, you truly can take time off and fully unplug while you’re gone. 

BlackLine Financial Close Automation

For those of you who are feeling the most stress around the financial close, you’re in luck, because there are modern financial close process automation solutions available that can substantially reduce traditional accounting stress points.

Automation solutions can significantly ease the financial close process, relieving accountants of mundane work and freeing up their time for more strategic, rewarding, and less stressful efforts. Automation can also help keep the workflows going, even while you’re away from the office.

BlackLine’s suite of Financial Close Management solutions relieve accountants’ stress in several ways, including through continuous and real-time monitoring, standardization and consistency, collaboration and workflow management, and remote access.

For example, because BlackLine is cloud-based, accountants can sign on to check their work from any point in the globe—a helpful stress reliever for someone who wants to check in periodically while on vacation (though it’s better if you can unplug completely!).

Since BlackLine features a unified data store, accountants and their managers can be sure that the numbers they’re working with are always correct and are reflected throughout the organization’s financial operations. This is also useful when you need coverage while you’re gone—the transparency and accessibility are game-changers.

Learn about some key BlackLine products that can make a huge difference in automating processes within the financial close.

Account Reconciliations - This solution offers features such as standardized templates, auto-certification, and intelligent workflows that help speed the financial close, which can greatly reduce accountants’ workloads at this critical time.

In addition to pre-configured templates and automated workflows, BlackLine’s Account Reconciliations also provides links to company policies, procedures, and supporting documentation. That means that if a question arises there’s no need for the accountant to scour a variety of documents and then send links via email to questioning managers or auditors.

Transaction Matching - Organizations are typically inundated with accounting transactions—at closing time, it can fall to the accounting staff to match what can be millions of transactions. For companies without automation, this means downloading data from source systems, aggregating details in spreadsheets, then using complex formulas, V-lookups, or color coding to match and reconcile.

With BlackLine, accountants can match millions of transactions in a matter of minutes, including complex transactions with one-to-many or even many-to-many relationships. This frees up accountants to spend their time investigating exceptions, which makes better use of their strategic skills and helps engage them at a more meaningful level of professionalism.

Journal Entry - Journals are a necessary part of any business accounting system, and they’re another example of how automation can significantly help reduce stress on accountants over manual methods. Done manually, the process of creating, supporting, and certifying journal entries is unsustainable.

BlackLine Journal Entry removes the tedium and risk of journal entry errors by embedding control attributes within standard journal entry templates and creating an electronic audit trail to automate and store certifications and posting documents. It lets users easily add supporting documentation and gives auditors role-based, read-only access for self-service journal entry testing.

Go Ahead—Take That Vacation

By automating manual tasks, providing real-time monitoring, ensuring consistency, and facilitating collaboration, solutions like BlackLine help ease worries about the financial close process. With the ability to access data remotely, maintain security, and leverage mobile applications, accountants can confidently take a holiday, knowing that their financial operations are in the capable hands of their colleagues and world-class software. By embracing automation, finance teams can achieve greater efficiency, accuracy, and peace of mind, enhancing work-life balance and enabling professionals to fully enjoy their time away from the office.

Do you want to understand the real cost of manual accounting processes and discover how you can eliminate and automate them to focus on more strategic work? Get your exclusive copy of Modernizing Accounting For Dummies to learn how to:

  • Get started with accounting automation

  • Complete more work in less time

  • Drive effective change management

About the Author


Jim Buchanan