5 Things Public Finance Professionals Need To Do Before the End of Summer

As the days get shorter and temperatures gradually start falling, we can all be sure of one thing:  summer is winding down. For year-end filers however, this time of year signifies something more; as the season fades, so does the slight reprieve in filing deadlines characteristic of the summer months.

So if you’re a year-end filer, why not take advantage of the downtime? Things will kick back into high gear faster than you can say September.

Before your work days shift from summer hours and iced coffees to overtime and endless pots of black coffee, read this checklist that prescribes five ways to proactively position yourself for financial reporting success this fall.

1. Review the latest standards issued by FASB and the IASB

Summer workloads may be lighter in some organizations, but don’t assume that means FASB and the IASB are taking a break. In fact, they’re still issuing new standards, rules and regulations consistently, so it’s important to keep an eye on these new pronouncements so there are no surprises come filing time.

Take time now to research the latest standards so you’re in the know, and go one step further by automating this process to eliminate workload later in the year. According to this VP of Finance, “Automation alone can improve productivity by 12% or more [and] reduces repetitive workflow…” With Certent DisclosureNet, you can set up automatic alerts to notify you of any regulatory changes, and for the rest of the season you won’t have to spend precious time hunting for this information. Instead, it will be emailed directly to you in real-time.

2. Do your precedent research

Now that you’re fully aware of all the new standards that are being enforced, it’s time to dive in. No, not into a cool lake in cottage country, but into the real-time examples that show these new standards in practice and give you an opportunity to do a little competitive research. While currently only 33% of companies are using external benchmarks regularly, it’s a great practice that’s becoming increasingly important, so consider touching on it before the summer’s out.

Reviewing precedent documents is beneficial because it reduces workload (by using compliant filings as a template for your own), educates financial reporting teams on correct filing under new standards, and gives you a jump on your competition who may not be using these tactics to reduce workflow cycle times and increase compliance.

3. Brush up on industry knowledge

Looking for a little end-of-summer reading? It’s a good idea to use any spare time to bone up on industry knowledge, and the best, most efficient way to do this is to follow industry publications and sources online. Whether you need information on XBRL, disclosure management tips, or best practices for financial reporting, there are several easily accessible (and digestible!) sources available online.

At Certent, we turn to sites like Financial Executives International DailyCFO.comCompliance Week, and reports published by E&Y, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC – and those are just to name a few! Two quick, easy ways to access a constant feed from these relevant sources is to set up an RSS Feed like Feed.ly or a Twitter account.

If you’ve got extra time, webinars, conferences and networking events are also great avenues for learning and knowledge sharing as well.

4. Review internal processes and tweak where necessary

Maybe the only cycle you’ve been thinking of lately is the one with two wheels that you’ve been pedaling around on in the nice weather, but the reality is that now is a great time to concentrate on the cycle of the disclosure management variety. Disclosure management is the process that helps your organization keep its financial reporting process timely, organized and accurate.

Your disclosure management process may have been running like a well-oiled machine last season, but it never hurts to conduct a quick internal review to see if it requires a tune up. This cycle – and its associated moving parts, such as XBRL, should be treated as an evolving creature; constantly being refined for improvement. Use resources like this XBRL Quality Checklist to ensure compliance and quality.

5. Research software options

This period of downtime for year-end filers marks the perfect opportunity to look into some disclosure management solutions that will improve financial reporting. There are a lot of options out there, but one of the most valuable investments you can make in your DMC is to incorporate SEC filing search into your workflow. Access to precedent examples, accounting rules and regulations and competitive intelligence saves time and money and boosts compliance.

Find out which seven things finance leaders should demand from a disclosure research tool and then sign up for our 30-day free trial to experience the power of having access to 20+ million public disclosure filings at your fingertips!

Like the close of any other summer, saying goodbye to the summer of 2016 will be bittersweet, but crossing out these five items from your autumn financial reporting preparation checklist just might make it a little easier this time around.

What are some other ways you help prepare yourself for the next financial reporting season?