Are your stress levels building? That's understandable as there are only a couple of weeks left in the year.
That means it's time for CFOs and Controllers to close the books, finalize the financial reporting and prepare for the fiscal year to come. Oh yes, there’s also the annual audit and tax preparation process.
Year-end reporting is a complicated endeavor that relies on the endless accumulation of financial data throughout the year. Fortunately, there are some ways to ease the stress of year-end financial reporting, while reducing human error, so CFOs can submit all reports by the required deadlines and ensure confidence in the numbers they are signing off on.
Year-End Reporting Tips
Here are some tips to ensure your year-end financial reporting runs as smoothly as possible. Some of the tips we found are more applicable to small businesses, but companies of all sizes can benefit from advanced preparation.
- Start preparing the necessary year-end reports and analysis early. Ask your accountants for a to-do list of documents that he or she needs to get your audit and tax preparation rolling.
- Request interim testing. Ask your auditor for interim testing to get a head start on your audit. This isn’t something you fully control, but try to arrange this testing as soon as possible.
- Prepare contact lists for the bank, legal and accounts-receivable confirmations. Organize and prepare the necessary information for all of the confirmations that your auditor will prepare.
- Check your general ledger and sub-ledger balances. Be sure to prepare monthly balance sheet account reconciliations.
- Review quarterly tax payments. Your accountant needs to know whether you made quarterly tax payments, when you made them and the amount paid to determine how much you still owe.
- Update Depreciation Schedules. Update your fixed asset software or excel spreadsheets with all of your current year purchases and asset disposals.
- Unusual or Non-Recurring Transactions. If your company is entering into some type of transaction that is unusual or non-recurring, proactively reach out to your accountant to properly account for the transaction.
- Prepare for 1099 Reporting. As part of your vendor set-up process, you should make it a requirement that you have a completed W9 Form from all of your vendors before any payments are issued.
Identify reporting process inefficiencies.
With the year coming to a close quickly, CFOs and Controllers are likely locked into their current reporting processes and systems. However, your team has the potential to perpetually streamline its approach to financial reporting. As you close out the year and start the annual reporting, take note of any time-consuming or inefficient aspects that could be improved in the new year, and outline some goals to optimize efficiency moving forward. If you are currently relying on your ERP, spreadsheets, or legacy EPM applications there’s usually room for improvement. By implementing cloud-based EPM software in the coming year, you can dramatically reduce manual steps and the potential for human error, improve the accuracy of financial reporting, and streamline the period-end close process..
End-of-year reporting is the bane of many Finance departments, but it needn't be as stressful and time-consuming as you make it. With some advance planning and preparation you can get ahead of the process and avoid last-minute fire drills. . In addition, having the right software tools in place, can eliminate manual processes and improve the accuracy of your year-end reporting.
To learn more, read our free white paper; From 4 Days to 4 Hours: How to Dramatically Streamline Your Board Reporting Process.
Best of luck with year-end 2015 and continued success in 2016 !