Established in 1971 as one of the first electronic stock markets, Nasdaq has since expanded into a global company offering multiple exchanges, technology solutions, and corporate services, including investor and public relations.
With a massive global footprint, Nasdaq operates in 26 countries across six continents. While expansion is paramount to the company’s strategy, the growth has added tremendous complexity to accounting and operations. According to Mike Galus, vice president, finance and accounting, at Nasdaq, “We have a massive global footprint, touching customers everywhere. That’s created a strain on the finance and accounting resources of the company to keep up with the different businesses we have.”
The accounting and finance teams relied on Excel-based templates and macros to support reconciliation. “It was a very manual, cumbersome process. There wasn’t a lot of standardization, which made it difficult to summarize information, especially when you had to search through different Excel files all with varying degrees of support and standards. We were also getting pressure from our internal and external auditors to get control of the process.”
The push toward a more efficient, automated reconciliation process started and was spearheaded by employees who had used BlackLine at previous organizations. “When I came on board and looked at the reconciliation process, I noticed it could use some improvement,” said Daisy Pitre, director, consolidations, at Nasdaq. “I had been part of the BlackLine implementation team at another company, so I knew there was a better way to do it.”
According to Denise Zerega, managing director, global consolidations, at Nasdaq, “Daisy had so much knowledge of the product that it seemed like a no-brainer from our end. We took ownership and pushed it forward.”
The team reserved three months for implementation, rolling out the system across both US and non-US offices. Stated Galus, “It’s a testament to BlackLine that we rolled out a fairly significant improvement across our company with a very light touch. It was not a very difficult implementation to put in place. This is certainly an added benefit to any potential user who is thinking it’s going to be difficult to switch over. We found it not very difficult at all.”
Improved financial accuracy by switching from quarterly to monthly reconciliations. The previous spreadsheet driven process was so onerous that reconciliations review only took place once a quarter. By automating the entire process, Nasdaq is now processing 5,000 reconciliations every month. “With BlackLine, instead of four reviews a year, we’re getting 12,” said Galus. “What we’ve seen is what wasn’t getting reviewed until the end of the quarter is now getting reviewed every month. As result, quarterly financials are prepared more quickly and accurately.”
Implemented standards across entire organization. Nasdaq now has consistent reconciliation and standards across the entire organization. “Everything is prepared the same way now. Now, we can very quickly, before we release earnings, give confidence to the controller that the entire balance sheet of the company has been reviewed and prepared in accordance with our policies,” said Galus.
Enhanced global visibility and transparency for staff and auditors, regardless of location. Staff—and internal and external auditors—can access BlackLine from anywhere in the world. “People aren’t tied to an office anymore. BlackLine makes it very convenient, as people can log in from anywhere and complete their tasks,” said Galus.
Additionally, the team no longer has to spend any time gathering and preparing documents for internal and external auditors. “We’re saving so much time. Our auditors can go directly into BlackLine and research items on their own without us pulling any data.”
Enabled finance team to effectively support new acquisitions. Using BlackLine enables the team to bring new companies online and into the fold more quickly and to seamlessly partner with the business team. “We try very hard to make sure our finance team is supporting the business team and is working with them as a partner. We want to make finance as easy as possible for the business teams and not have it be a roadblock,” said Galus.
“It used to take a month or so for us to bring a new company into our reconciliation process. Now it’s almost instantaneous. They’re brought in, set up, and turned on. We’re giving confidence to the controller that when we close a deal we’re bringing them in quickly and managing them in the Nasdaq way. It helps our business partners manage their business more effectively because they have better, faster information at their fingertips.”
Freed staff to focus on analytics and discrepancies, instead of manual data entry. BlackLine automates and standardizes the reconciliations process, enabling the team to practice true modern finance. “For me, modern finance is taking mundane tasks and making them as automated as possible. With BlackLine, we have more time to look at why something is happening rather than simply documenting it,” said Pitre. “BlackLine allows us to add more analytics and creativity into what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis. It frees your time and your mind to see how you can provide more value to the company.”