By Kateryna Kyryllova. In an environment of evolving regulations and ever-increasing data in both volume and complexity, it is critical to establish effective processes that will render timely and accurate external reporting. Filing with the SEC is a high-stakes and deadline driven process that is heavily dependent on coordination of various departments across the company. Here are four steps you can incorporate into your processes today to significantly improve and streamline your regulatory reporting workflow.
1. DOCUMENT KEY PROCESSES
Documenting critical elements of your external reporting job function will help to make each process easily repeatable. One pain point in any organization is gathering and managing data. Even more so in bigger companies where the information is flowing in every direction, and one user builds on the outputs of another. Establishing a method to collect and organize data can save you time and reduce the risk of errors. Be sure to document what key departments you gather your data from and what format the data should be in. Create a spreadsheet for each stakeholder, or use a collaboration tool, and set email reminders for them to send through the data you need. Also, document other key workflows for external reporting, such as developing a plan for managing comments and preparing your documents to roll forward.
2. IMPLEMENT FORMATTING BEST PRACTICES
There are many formatting best practices that can improve the presentation of your filings with the SEC. Be sure to use Excel to format your filing document financial tables. Generating only one table per worksheet tab will best format your tables for HTML output and transferability back to your Word document. Also, use a general format figure for your values, instead of one formatted for currency or accounting, and create a gutter column for the dollar signs. In this 4 Step Guide to Improved Regulatory Reporting, you will find a chart of PC shortcuts to incorporate into your workflows.
3. IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF YOUR XBRL
Quality is key when filing with the SEC. XBRL and EDGARized HTML reports serve as an official declaration to the public of the financial health of your company. It is critical that you include concepts such as Negative Instance Document Values and Calculation Linkbases in your XBRL processes. You can find even more details in our blog, Filing XBRL? Don’t Forget These 5 Things, to gain a greater sense of security that your XBRL filings are accurate and complete.
4. EMPLOY A COMPREHENSIVE DISCLOSURE MANAGEMENT SOLUTION
There are a variety of tools at your disposal to ease the burden of financial compliance. Take a look at your current external reporting process in order to evaluate things that are going well and elements that need improvement. A disclosure management solution can improve the quality of your disclosures, while reducing time, cost, and resources needed to create and file period-closing documents. Certent provides a comprehensive Disclosure Management solution with the ability to create a single-source authoring document and the functionality to self-file with the SEC directly from the software, while also including an added layer of security and quality checks in the process.
Get more details on these tips for smart and efficient closing cycles in our recent whitepaper The 4 Step Guide to Improved Regulatory Reporting!