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5 trends set to define the future of your Finance Team post-Covid

The outbreak of Covid-19 thrust businesses around the world into an extraordinary scenario almost overnight; operations and services that had for decades been fulfilled in the office were suddenly the responsibility of employees working from their dining rooms, sheds or, if they were lucky, home offices.

As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, we’ve considered what the next steps for finance teams are likely to be – and the five top trends Financial Directors simply can’t afford to ignore.

1) Future proof your systems for remote working

Widespread remote working will be the greatest legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses, so taking steps now to future proof your systems is essential.

One of our partners, invoice automation specialist Arcivate, has noted a stark difference in the ability of businesses to respond to Covid-19 depending on the technology they were using.

Andrew Coyle, Managing Director at Arcivate, says: “Companies using cloud solutions have enjoyed a seamless transition from office to remote working. However, manual processes have led to a raft of problems for others; including horror stories involving couriers, PO boxes and unreliable scanners.

“Enabling Accounts Payable teams to work remotely is critical. If people are working with paper there is a greater need for manual input because home offices do not have the resources to scan images to the same quality as invoices received by email. How do you achieve accuracy in your financial reporting with the delays caused by the overhead of home working with paper invoices?”

A recent BBC survey of 50 of the UK’s largest employers discovered all 50 have no plans to return all staff to the office full-time, underlining the increasingly remote way in which businesses will continue to operate post-Covid.

As such, Financial Directors must consider cloud-based solutions that allow critical financial processes to be completed by staff in any location.

2) Accurate data is the key

It’s easy for us to extoll the virtues of technology for finance teams, but even the greatest solutions are only as good as the data you input. That’s why, as finance teams turn increasingly to technology to facilitate remote working, we believe data quality has never been more important.

An average human makes between three and six errors an hour, while the cost of people making mistakes is said to be $37 billion to companies in the US and UK alone, so it’s clear you can’t rely on people if your ambition is to ensure 100% accuracy in every transaction.

Andrew explains: “You need systems that will accurately input your invoice data in order to produce valuable reporting. If the master data isn’t accurate, it doesn’t matter how good your solution is.

“Similarly, quality data is the key to great tax reporting. An automated tax engine is a powerful and efficient tool but it relies on being fed great data.”

3) Achieving more with less

It’s no secret that the pandemic has resulted in huge job losses. In the UK, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits more than doubled to 2.7 million between March and July. And that trend has been replicated in dozens of nations.

Few industries or professions have been immune to this, so Finance Directors across the world are currently facing the challenge of having to meet targets, ensure compliance and oversee seamless processes as usual – only with, in some cases, a severely reduced headcount.

Andrew says: “The only answer is to work smarter – and that means automating workflows that humans typically find laborious, difficult or inefficient.

“There are countless tasks a finance team can use technology to complete faster and more accurately than people will ever be able to deliver. I expect solutions such as these to become even more popular as businesses evolve to recover from the pandemic.”

4) A flexible response to unprecedented times    

Back in Q1, nobody could have predicted what 2020 had in store for the world and the way in which businesses of all types, sizes and specialisms would be impacted by the pandemic. With an unprecedented level of uncertainty continuing to weigh on organisations, it’s more important than ever to ensure your company boasts the flexibility required to respond to whatever comes next.

We expect governments around the world to take a variety of approaches in a bid to pull themselves out of economic decline as the fiscal impact of Covid-19 takes hold. One of the most common will be to alter VAT rates to (hopefully) drive consumer spending or increase government revenue.

In the last two months alone, we’ve seen:

  • Germany slash its standard rate of VAT from 19% to 16% and its reduced rate from 7% to 5% for six months.
  • Saudi Arabia increase its VAT rate from 5% to 15%.
  • The UK introduce a temporary VAT cut from 20% to 5% for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions.
  • Ireland reduce its VAT rate from 23% to 21%.
  • Italy confirm all VAT liabilities may be delayed for up to two years.

With a plethora of rate changes likely in the coming months – some applying only to certain industries or for specific periods and many announced at short notice – it’s imperative that your systems are flexible enough to allow you to respond immediately.

Fail to act quickly and accurately and your tax transactions could be non-compliant in a flash.

5) Scrutinise employee performance from afar

From determination to reporting, it’s vital that every stage of the tax journey is completed in a timely and effective manner.

One of the key concerns to allow people to work from home is security, control and audit. With Mi Invoices the Accounts Payable Team have full oversight and control of staff operations with transparency of the invoice journey. This includes live ageing reports for complete business process governance and payment status details.

For more information on how the Arcivate Mi Invoices solution could transform the way your business processes invoices, contact Arcivate today.