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Finance In Focus

When two large banks merged, getting Finance in sync was a top priority. Here’s how they did it.


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Abstract

When two large banks merged, the resulting Finance function needed to make sense of two very different ways of doing business — fast. Deloitte helped them in their efforts to create a unified approach to Finance that built on the best of both organizations. The result? A rock-solid approach to policy, process, technology and governance that delivers reliable financial information for business decision-making and action, from intercompany cash settlement and expense payments to accounting, capital planning and electronic payments.

The Challenge

Mergers typically magnify the differences between two organizations, making nearly every merger integration feel like a marriage of opposites. In reality, they're often not as bad as they seem. But in this merger, it would be hard to imagine two organizations in the same industry (banking) with such markedly different approaches to their businesses. Different operating models. Different processes and procedures. Different everything. And, as is often the case, the Finance organization was perhaps the most accurate reflection of the confusion.

For example, one organization had a fully integrated view of how management and financial reporting worked together, all the way down to a single set of procedures. The other was decentralized by design, without a standard set of procedures or practices in place. Geographically, one bank was global in scope while the other was focused on the U.S. market. Accounts Payable, Project Costing and Fixed Assets were all organized differently, and relied on a tangled web of disparate legacy systems.

For these two companies, the problem wasn't that one Finance organization was doing things the right way and the other wasn't. Each approach made a lot of sense for its respective organization. But bringing them together would be a considerable challenge.

How We Helped

Because of the broad scope of the challenges facing the Finance organization, Deloitte helped them establish a two-pronged strategy for the integration. We helped guide them through the sprint to Day One readiness in a way that didn't limit the company's future options, as we helped them simultaneously build out the road map to take Finance through the next 18 months — and beyond. We helped them focus specifically on the Controllership and Financial Planning and Analysis groups. Following are some of the specific areas in which we helped.

Integrated Allocation. The solution allows the company to generate both the intercompany and management allocation transactions required to properly record internal business activities between different parts of the organization. The focus was on both financial reporting for external audiences and internal reporting for company management.

Accounts Payable and Travel and Expenses. We helped them establish common policies for travel, entertainment and expenses and clearly define the process by which procedures would be executed at every step. We also helped them design the enterprise-wide rollout strategy of a software solution to accompany these process changes.

Project Planning. We helped them replace several legacy applications with a single solution to minimize planning cycle time, improve reporting capabilities and eliminate data manipulation and transfer processes, giving Finance staff more time to analyze budget data.

Wherever needed along the way, we helped them in their efforts to integrate their people, process and technology to achieve their objectives.

Solution

Today, this bank's merged Finance organization delivers reliable information for business decision making through the use of policies, procedures and technologies that are consistent throughout the company. Some of the specific benefits they achieved include:

  • Centralized, automated and outsourced invoice and expense payment functions
  • Standardized intercompany cash settlement and accounting entries
  • New Capital Planning technology to make the planning process more efficient
  • Increased electronic payments to vendors and employees
  • A single underlying platform solution that offers greater data transparency and strengthens the links between Financial and Management reporting.

Additionally, their policy, process and governance requirements are all clearly spelled out, bringing consistency to the work of Finance teams across the world.

Everyone knows that big improvements in Finance don't usually show up as additional revenues, which can make it hard to commit to Finance-focused projects. But if Finance isn't operating as it should be, the whole organization can suffer. For this company, we helped the Finance organization stay in tune with the ambitious, big-picture goals of the newly merged company, creating lasting benefits that will be felt for years to come.

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