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The Last Mile of Finance

Deloitte Insights video

Increasing efficiencies and reducing risk are the objectives of every controllers’ Last Mile of Finance -- the period of time at the end of each quarter when the pressure is on to close the books. Tune in to this episode of Insights to learn how finance professionals are employing new technologies and innovative approaches to tackle traditional financial reporting issues.

Speakers

David Hayes, Director, Bank of New York Mellon
Kyle Cheney, Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Transcript 

It is time for Insights, a video news production of Deloitte LLP. Now, here is your host, Sean O’Grady.

Sean O’Grady (Sean): Hello and welcome to Insights. Today, we will be discussing methods to increase efficiencies and reduce risk in the Last Mile of Finance. That is the period of time at the end of each quarter when the pressure is on to close the books. Joining us for this conversation from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are David Hayes, the director of internal controls at the Bank of New York Mellon, and Kyle Cheney, a partner within Deloitte and Touche’s core finance transformation team. David, I would like to begin with you and given the size and scale and complexity of BNY Mellon, I am interested to know what are some of the challenges in maintaining an effective control environment so that you have confidence in the balance sheet at the end of the quarter.

David Hayes (David): Sean, thanks for that question. At BNY Mellon, we have accounting and operations centers located throughout the world. So, the integrity of the balance sheet is critical. As we aggregate these financial results for our shareholders to use them in financial reporting and regulatory reporting, it is critical that we understand what those balances are and that we know that they are correct.

Sean: Thank you for that David. Kyle, does David’s view align with your experience with those that you are talking to at other companies.

Kyle Cheney (Kyle): It absolutely does Sean. We are seeing a tremendous increase in activity around this area that we refer to as the Last Mile of Finance. A lot of our clients and not exclusive to financial services organizations are focused in this space. So every sector from retail to life sciences, higher education, energy, oil and gas, a tremendous amount of activity here. I think that one of the drivers of that activity is that there are really new, tangibly new opportunities in the space today. There are a lot of automation capabilities and real opportunity to improve the business process and the technologies that support those business processes. But as we think about the last mile, it is important to understand how we define that what does the Last Mile of Finance really mean. At Deloitte, we refer to the Last Mile of Finance as all of the accounting activities from the time a trial balance is prepared through external financial reporting, which includes SEC filings, regulatory reporting, even statutory and management information. So, there is a wide variety of activity that takes place across that last mile, and with new technologies and capabilities around areas like intercompany accounting variance, or fluctuation analysis overall of those accounts that David mentioned, account reconciliations, and external reporting in areas like the effective management of disclosures and footnotes, and the publishing of financial statements to the SEC — there are a lot of opportunities. Now, David and I have been working very closely over the past year or so on a project at the Bank of New York Mellon under David’s leadership, which incorporates the automation of account reconciliations globally at the bank.

David: That is right Kyle. You know, when you and I first met, we were a very manual reconciliation shop. At BNY Mellon, where I said earlier, we have about 70,000 reconciliations. We are now able to manage on a monthly basis the inventory of who prepares those reconciliations, whether they are done on time, and we are able to aggregate results for governance to senior management.

Sean: Thank you for that gentlemen. David sticking with you, I am interested to know what benefits your bank has achieved and how does that improve in the last mile.

David: When we first started out Sean, we were a manual reconciliation shop. So, we did a lot of our reconciliations on Excel. The problem with that is you cannot aggregate results so easily. You do not know who does the reconciliations. You do not know if there are issues in those reconciliations. So, the benefits that we have been able to realize is we now know on a monthly basis who prepares all of our reconciliations. We are able to have insight into the results of those reconciliations and we can prepare management reporting in a very efficient and effective manner. As a matter of fact, I can prepare management reporting one day after our compliance due dates and report that to senior management. So, we have true transparency into our process.

Sean: Thank you very much for that David and since both you and Kyle have been down this path, it sounds like you have made some progress. I am interested if you can share with us some of your tips for others in your role at other institutions, what you have learned and what some of those best practices are.

David: When we started our project, one of the things we had to do was to make sure we had the right team to help pull this process off. So, not only did we have to identify the right individuals internally that could help a global process have a success factor, but more importantly we needed to make sure we had right partners from a consulting resource that could help us make sure we were doing the right activities at the right times throughout this process, and that is where Kyle and the Deloitte team have been very valuable to us.

Sean: Kyle, that seems like a logical spot to turn it over to you. What are some of the things that you have learned by going through this process with Bank of New York Mellon?

Kyle: Well, I think in this last mile space, there are tremendous opportunities to both increase the efficiency of the processes in a global finance organization while reducing the risk of financial errors. I also would provide three areas of advice or leading practice to my clients and the first is to take a strategic view of the Last Mile of Finance when you embark on a journey like this. So, rather than looking for quick-hit solutions, look at the areas across the last mile where you can provide value and typically, there is a business case that you can assemble that will be very compelling. Second, ensure that you have top-down support from leadership. It is going to be critical in order to standardize processes on a global scale and to improve adoption of the program. And finally, target a small victory in the beginning. When we get a quick win in an initial project, it provides momentum and it creates energy in the organization that can be leveraged going forward to what might be a mid-term or a long-term solution. So, if you stick close to these standards, you can have a very successful Last Mile of Finance.

Sean: Alright. We have been discussing efficiencies in the Last Mile of Finance with David Hayes, the director of internal controls at the Bank of New York Mellon and Kyle Cheney, a partner within Deloitte & Touche’s core finance transformation team. If you would like to learn more about David, Kyle, or any of the topics discussed on today's broadcast, you can find that information on our website, its www.deloitte.com/us/insights.

For all the good folks here in Insights, I am Sean O’Grady. We will you see next time.

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