Financial & Management Accounting

Trust the Hype – How E-services such as E-invoicing Can Build Resilience and Streamline Operations for Your Business

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Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan at Kofax 

When it comes to digitalization today, many businesses are caught up in the race to integrate technology into their daily operations and make sure their company will withstand these difficult times. In fact, according to the Kofax 2022 Intelligent Automation Benchmark Study, 89% of worldwide executives believe that digitally transformed businesses have a competitive edge, and 90% of global executives believe that automating activities post-COVID will ensure company continuity. 

Because of this, companies aiming to increase their resilience should consider expediting their technological development by considering e-services like e-invoicing. These services have four main benefits: automatic updates, accessibility from anywhere, speed and cost reductions, and scalability. DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Matthew Thomson, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan at Kofax to learn more about how organisations can use automation to gain resiliency in their business. 


While most Companies in Singapore and Asia are already digitising their invoicing processes, what are the major challenges amidst this shift? 

Throughout the Asia Pacific, we see a very volatile economic landscape. According to Matthew, the world is in a very unsettled space right now.  We’re seeing interest rates rise, we’re seeing the cost-of-living increase, which is impacting all of us and we’re seeing fuel prices rise. Thus, what was really intended to be conveyed was that both the problems and costs associated with conducting business are rising. Digital transactions and transformation have already occurred and are almost the new norm. When we think about E-invoicing, many financial institutions, in particular, are talking about large increases in digital transactions per year. 

Every year, Kofax does an intelligent automation study, and in 2022, they found that: 

  • 85% of C-suites said that they would focus their intelligent automation on accounts payable automation 
  • 82% said invoice automation 
  • 84% said transaction processing  
  • 83% said bank statement processing  

All of this ties in again with invoicing. However, these issues affect not only the public sector but also the business sector and how we work with suppliers. One of the difficulties people are trying to solve is the amount of paperwork produced by the invoicing operations because it has historically been a very labor-intensive process. Another challenge is reducing the number of duplicate payments, which greatly impacts business, suppliers, and clients. Unfortunately, whenever we involve humans in a process, we run the risk of making mistakes. We may not all make mistakes, but someone might along the way.  

Automation and Intelligent Automation 

It can enhance productivity across a firm since you can use your resources more effectively and there is less chance of human error. First, it drives faster response times because the procedures are more water created. When you’re able to monitor control and standardising processes, you’re actually able to increase your compliance – according to Matthew. The identification of problems is another important consideration. Process and automation may enable you to spot issues and difficulties earlier. 

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Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

Being able to automate and make these procedures seamless can actually promote greater customer engagement and faster response times, which has a flow-on impact. When you look at dealing with customers, it typically includes a lot of processes and time, and this can be time-consuming. If we’re able to get better and faster data, you can make more accurate decisions and more accurate decisions can again improve customer retention the customer focus. it also drives cross-sell and upsell opportunities. So, with this automation you can improve your customer engagement and your customers. 

Operations are key and it’s often in a very critical part of any company. However, because there are so many procedures involved in these activities, the operations team will benefit if you can look to make them smooth. They can function more efficiently. They can direct and concentrate on greater invention. 

Promoting Resiliency 

“It’s being able to cope with change and cope with unexpected change,” quoted Matthew. We all bear several scars, as the pandemic made clear. All of us had to adjust to the sudden change. And you need to be adaptable to deal with change in custom. They must recognize and automate your duties and procedures in order to respond quickly and be nimble. 90% of C-suites believed that automating workflows only during post-covid, can already ensure business continuity. 89% of C-suites also believed that digitally transformed companies have a competitive advantage. 


Accounts Payable Teams in Southeast Asia should Pioneer with Automation against Fraud

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Greg Crowl | 11 November 2022

Although fraud is not a new phenomenon, organizations will need to be equipped to identify and prevent fraud.

Every organization’s primary aim is to be profitable – and no fault should be seen in that. But what they want to stray away is the dirty side of money. That would be the “F” word in the business world: fraud.  

Although fraud is not a new phenomenon, organizations will need to be equipped to identify and prevent fraud. In fact, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way, with the scales tipping further in the favor of fraudsters. Financial criminals have been sharpening their skills and cunningly preying on unsecured companies as well as their employees, although organizations have been improving their fraud defense. 

The prolonged pandemic hasn’t helped the situation. In PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020, 42 percent of Singapore-based organizations were have fallen victim to fraud over 24 months, of which 23 percent suffered a cumulative loss of more than US 50 million to fraud, higher than the global level at 13 percent. Singapore’s prominent positioning as the financial hub of Southeast Asia is likely a key driver of the growing reported economic crime rate.

The common type of frauds that are rising in ASEAN markets, among an array of violations, are asset misappropriations, misleading financial statements, and resume fraud. These frequent events of frauds are happening due to poor fraud awareness and minimal standards of digital literacy. Statistics from CyberSource showed that fraud cost Southeast Asia at least 1.6 percent of digital revenue, with Indonesia leading at 3.2 percent.

No company wants to be duped by fraudsters, but even trillion-dollar companies do falter. Amazon, the benchmark of running a successful business, was defrauded of US 19 million. Facebook and Google were also scammed of US 100 million by forged invoices sent through phishing email scams. 

Whether it’s a small or medium enterprise (SME) or a multinational corporation (MNC), fraudsters are targeting them, which means defenses in an organization are required to be current.  For instance, financial institutions have to comply with complex and ever-changing regulations set by the government. Add in the ongoing customer life-cycle transformation, and protecting the business from fraudulent activity seems more challenging than ever. 

Fortunately, there are steps organizations can take to fight back against fraud and meet “know your customer” (KYC) requirements. Fraud detection and prevention has, for the longest time, been based on a three-pronged approach comprised of people, processes and technology. While all three elements are still essential, the increased complexity of fraud scams demands a greater reliance on the technology portion. People still play an important role, but it’s become increasingly difficult for the human eye to spot fraud given how sophisticated scams have become. Processes aren’t going to disappear either, but their key role is to connect people and technology in a way that makes them stronger together than when used alone. 

Unlike people, technology has evolved—so it can do a better job of keeping up with the advances in fraudulent activity. New techniques are available, making it the best choice to lead the charge. But where do you start?

Accounts Payable: Your Best Defense against Fraud

Accounts Payable (AP) staff relying on old tricks are defenseless against more complex fraud schemes. Intelligent AP automation is a modern weapon financial organization can use to keep fraud at bay. AP automation transforms accounts payable, eliminating the errors associated with manual work and enabling AP staff to “better support compliance and risk management teams in enforcing policies, identifying potential red flags, and escalating issues internally.” AP automation “reduces the risk of fraud and increases compliance by employing standards for handling expectations and workflows.”

Many organizations are beginning to see the benefit of investing in technologies and other resources to fight fraud, with 40 percent of respondents to PwC’s global survey stating they plan to increase their spend on fraud prevention over the next two years. The report also notes this is a smart choice since “there is a clear link between fraud prevention investments made upfront and reduced costs when a fraud strikes.” Additionally, companies using tools such as artificial intelligence are seeing value in the battle against fraud when the tools are properly implemented. For organizations considering an AP automation solution, it’s important to understand what makes this weapon valuable and how it can help fight fraud. 

Asia Pacific financial institutions are prepared to invest millions in fraud prevention according to a GBG report titled “Future-proofing Fraud Prevention in Digital Channels: APAC FI Study”. An estimated budget of US 83.3 million will be used by financial institutions to purchase the latest technology to tackle fraud till 2021. 57 percent of APAC financial institutions are claiming they’re working towards upgrading fraud prevention infrastructure while 50 percent have already made investments for digital onboarding fraud solutions, including Thailand and Indonesia with the biggest fraud budgets at US 95.4 million and US 88.9 million respectively.

AP Automation Arsenal: A WMD to Fight Fraud

A strong defense against fraudulent activity consists of multiple technologies that make an AP automation solution truly intelligent. To begin with, automated invoice processing allows time to be saved and eradicates human errors. Suppliers can send their invoices in the format of their choice through multi-channel invoice capture. Artificial intelligence technology captures and analyzes invoices coming in, determines the document layout, and extracts the required information. An electronic archive of invoices, including other financial documents, is available thanks to workflow and imaging solutions. Process orchestration automatically sends exceptions to human AP employees for review and approval. 

The technology also creates a document ownership trail, tracking the actions and handoffs between human and digital workers. Some intelligent AP automation solutions from providers have intelligence built in. They can even automatically detect items to extract from an invoice and whether pay slips have been manipulated—an important weapon for fraud detection. Intelligent automation can also be applied to onboarding suppliers, with automatic validation of key information like addresses and tax data. 

With automation technology in place, AP teams will be aware of common human errors like invoice fraud or duplicate payments. Additionally, unfamiliar vendors sending fake invoices will be identified as a red flag based on the AP staff guidelines. If an invoice states payment above the agreed amount, the automation system will trip for a review. It’s similar for invoices from new vendors or when the invoice amount doesn’t match the associated purchase order (PO). Automation can also verify whether invoices match up with the goods ordered or received. 

Advanced analytics can identify changes in vendor behaviors which may be a cause for concern, and third-party sources can be integrated to verify the validity and authenticity of new suppliers and vendors. With invoices being automated, AP staff have extra time to examine other scandalous events. Traces of possible fraud can also be detected by staff with audit trails.

The battle against fraud continues to morph as scammers become more mature. At the front lines are AP teams serving as your best defense against financial crimes. Don’t send them into combat unarmed. With intelligent AP automation technology, AP staff can work (and fight) like tomorrow, today. 


Impact Of Accounts Payable Automation In Today’s Ever-Changing Landscape

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 24 May 2022

Marcus Rex

Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific

Manual AP processes created several issues long before remote working became the norm, and they will continue to do so even after employees return to the office. Change is tough for everyone, but accountants are notorious for clinging to tried-and-true procedures.

The change to remote working due to COVID-19 was not simple, but finance departments had little choice but to adjust. After making the transition to remote working, many companies appreciated the benefits of AP automation solutions. However, many businesses are still undecided about how account payable automation may help them.

To address this, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of accounts payable automation and how the accounting department can benefit greatly from it, be it the older or the younger generation of employees. 


xSuite; What’s New And What Are They Currently Doing?

xSuite is a German headquartered software firm specializing in finance automation and they assist financial leaders to automate their financial processes, particularly their accounts payable.  During COVID-19, xSuite has seen a lot of companies that had to move to remote work and digitse their processes in order to still operate their businesses as before. Due to this, they saw a big demand in these areas and are still seeing it today. This is because companies are starting to realise that they need to push more with automation to be more competitive in today’s world. 

Impact Of High Turnover Rates On Finance Teams 

The subject of great resignation is spreading through the entire world and right now. 

“Yesterday, I spoke with someone in America and they mentioned that they are unable to hire people who live close to the office,” commented Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific.

 xSuite observed that people have changed their behaviours and opinions towards jobs where they want jobs to be more independent, they do not want to comply with strict rules. Marcus Rex pointed out that in Singapore, there are about 45,000 open positions right now across LinkedIn, Indeed and JobStreet posted in the country for accountants or accounting departments. 

However, he noted that there were only 1500 to 1600 of first-level positions for degree holders in accounting compared to the 45,000 open positions. From this observation, there is clearly a huge disparity between graduates and open positions which imposes very big risks for finance departments. 

What Could Have Led To The Low Number Of Accounting Graduates?

A lot of young graduates, when they start their accounting jobs, find themselves doing a lot of repetitive tasks which they do not enjoy.

“Many young accountants spend their day keying in invoice data and they have to follow up with their colleagues over and over again just to get approval and to pay out the invoice.”

Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific

So, these repetitive tasks are clearly something that people do not really like and this is where xSuite comes in and helps finance leaders to take some of these repetitive tasks away from the accountants so the accountants can concentrate more of their time and energy on really value-added work. 

Effects Of Accounts Payable Automation On Senior Staff 

xSuite has observed that over the last couple of years, when a finance leader decides to bring in automation, they see that in senior generations of accountants, there is a lot of hesitation and fear of how these automations could affect their job. The senior staff have this belief that once the automation goes live, they will lose their jobs as they have become redundant to the company. 

But in many of these cases, xSuite will advise financial leaders to bring everyone in the finance team on board including the accountants when making decisions to bring automation to the company. This is because, it will help them, especially the older staff, to see that it will make their work life easier than before as they no longer have to do these repetitive tasks and in most cases, they should not be afraid of losing their jobs. 

Whereas for the younger workforce, automation will definitely be more enticing to them as they are much more tech-savvy. It will be much better for them as they can come in to work and immediately concentrate on the more value-added tasks and not sit there typing data into invoices which is rather boring. 

How Senior Accountants And The Younger Accountants Can Complement One Another? 

The older generation has vast experience when it comes down to how to conduct certain procedures and how to work particular invoices whereas the younger generation is more tech-savvy and can quickly adapt to any technology but may not be as experienced. 

With both having their strengths and weaknesses, they complement one another greatly by covering where the other lacks and this can be a very healthy environment for any company. Having different generations in an accounting team will greatly benefit the company. 

Remaining Forward-Thinking And Agile In This Ever-Changing Landscape

Seeing it from the finance perspective, finance leaders and CFOs have to look very much into what kind of technologies are available to help them improve their internal processes because companies really have to focus on their core business in delivering goods and services to their customers. 

As there is an existing challenge in the digital supply chain, having a finance department that is flexible and quick in their operations is critical. Businesses must make sure that they pay all their invoices on time even when they have reduced staff and accounts payable. 

“Having all your invoices paid on time will help businesses to secure their relationships with their vendors which is very critical right now,” states Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific.

So from this perspective, automation, technology and finance departments must be looked at as a whole by finance leaders instead of concentrating on just the finance department if they seek to remain forward-thinking and agile. 


[Video Interview] Impact of Accounts Payable Automation in today’s ever-changing landscape

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Manual AP processes created several issues long before remote working became the norm, and they will continue to do so even after employees return to the office. Change is tough for everyone, but accountants are notorious for clinging to tried-and-true procedures.

The change to remote working due to COVID-19 was not simple, but finance departments had little choice but to adjust. After making the transition to remote working, many companies appreciated the benefits of AP automation solutions. However, many businesses are still undecided about how account payable automation may help them.

To address this, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of accounts payable automation and how the accounting department can benefit greatly from it, be it the older or the younger generation of employees. 


BlackLine Wins TrustRadius Top Rated 2022 Awards for Accounting, Financial Close and AR Automation

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 12 May 2022

Accounting automation software leader recognized for convenience of centralized platform and outstanding customer support, as rated by its customers at leading software peer review platform.

BlackLine, Inc. (Nasdaq: BL) has been recognized as a leader once again, earning ‘Top Rated 2022’ awards in the Accounting, Financial Close and Accounts Receivable (AR) categories from TrustRadius, a leading software peer review platform that has become a B2B industry standard, providing unbiased recognition of technology products based entirely on customer feedback.

Accounting automation software leader BlackLine has been recognized as a leader once again, earning ‘Top Rated 2022’ awards in the Accounting, Financial Close and Accounts Receivable categories from TrustRadius, a leading software peer review platform.

“Earning multiple Top Rated awards is testament to BlackLine’s leadership position in both financial close and accounts receivable automation,” said Megan Headley, VP of Research at TrustRadius. “Reviewers on TrustRadius consistently highlight the convenience of having a centralized platform for financial automation, along with BlackLine’s stellar customer support.”

Each month, over a million B2B technology buyers, more than 50 percent from large enterprises, use verified reviews and ratings on TrustRadius.com to make informed purchasing decisions. Here’s what users across multiple industries and from various company sizes are saying about BlackLine at TrustRadius.com:

  • “Easy to use, huge time saver – BlackLine is used internationally by all of our finance teams. This helps us track and document our review of journal entries and account reconciliations…and is helpful in documenting everything we need for SOX compliance.” Senior Accountant (Telecommunications; 501-1,000 employees)
  • “Automation, transparency, accuracy and controllable – [BlackLine] saves us tremendous time during the closing period, more accuracy, transparency and control. The experience I have had with BlackLine implementation consultants and the BlackLine support team is remarkable. ” Principal Accountant (Computer Hardware; 1,001-5,000 employees)
  • “BlackLine always has my back, so we can trust our balances! – BlackLine has many functionalities that can take data and prepare and format data that a preparer would have to do manually in Excel. This frees up time for preparers to perform value add activity/tasks/analysis. Automation at its best with BL!” Analyst (Gaming and Casinos; 1,001-5,000 employees)
  • “Blackline adds efficiencies and process flow to general ledger accounting team – “BlackLine works very well for general ledger accounting teams to stay organized and meet all deadlines. It helps with visibility and a real-time understanding of where everyone’s work status is. It has been instrumental in process flow efficiency for our multi-national team working in different time zones.” Analyst in Finance and Accounting (Accounting Company; 5,001-10,000 employees)
  • “Automating and transforming the future of accounting processes – BlackLine is well suited for organizations that have finance transformation on their road maps. It’s great to automate day to day accounting processes.” Accounting Manager (Leisure, Travel & Tourism; 5,001 to 10,000 employees)
  • “BlackLine delivers on its promises and provides the pathway to integrated modern accounting – Our company has many subsidiaries globally on numerous ERPs. BlackLine was able to consolidate balance sheet accounting into a single source.” Administrator (Electronics; 5,001 to 10,000 employees)
  • “Driving accounting into the future – [BlackLine] improves communication, allows for greater traceability, creates awareness and visibility for users, provides dynamic dashboards and reports to all levels of the organization that can be adapted to individual needs.” Accounting Manager (Automotive; 10,001+ employees)
  • “Integrated with our ERP system – BlackLine makes it possible to have a continuous close because it is integrated with our ERP system and the balances automatically update. It has made it possible to collaborate from all over the world and reduces the audit burden as auditors are able to go in directly and obtain the support needed. BlackLine is well suited for any company looking to make their close process more efficient and scalable.” Manager in Finance and Accounting (Biotechnology Company; 10,001+ employees)

Based entirely on customer feedback, TrustRadius Top Rated Awards are not influenced by analyst opinion or status as a TrustRadius customer. A detailed criteria breakdown of the methodology and scoring that TrustRadius uses to determine Top Rated winners can be found here.

“We appreciate all the great feedback from our user community, which is now over 335,000 strong,” said BlackLine CEO Marc Huffman. “It’s especially gratifying to see so many happy users telling the world how BlackLine has helped automate, manage and optimize their companies’ finance and accounting operations – and made their lives easier in the process.”

The three Top Rated awards come on the heels of BlackLine earning ‘2022 Best of Finance Software’ awards from TrustRadius earlier this year for ‘Best Relationship’ and ‘Best Feature Set’. To read reviews from additional BlackLine users at TrustRadius.com, go here.


Accountants are the driving force to transform Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub

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DigitalCFO Asia Newsroom | 26 April 2022

According to the Jobs Transformation Maps launched in January 2022, the demand for accounting and other professionals will continue to grow at a projected demand of 6,000 to 7,000 new accounting jobs by 2025. With climate action risen to the top of the agenda for governments and organisations, the core responsibilities of accounting professionals are revaluated. They now play a salient role in helping organisations adapt to the sustainable practices required to prevent resource depletion, facilitate long term success, and construct a more sustainable future.

Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and National Development, addressed participants at a fireside chat held during the ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Virtual Conference 2022. She said that accountants are well-positioned to accelerate sustainability practices and ensure the quality of sustainable reporting. She also shared that they can assess environmental considerations and risks that affect organisations’ finances in the long run, with their experience and expertise. She also added that accountants guide companies on the right growth path and help business leaders identify ways to pivot their business models to become more sustainable. Watch the full video of the fireside chat here.

Building on the imperatives for the profession to upskill and deliver the sustainability initiatives, a recent study by ACCA and Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) titled, “Market demand for professional accountancy services in Singapore – FY 2021-2024” highlights that sustainability and CSR reporting has been ranked in the top five for future services demanded from the big four and smaller and medium practices (SMPs) in Singapore. 

The findings indicate that the demand for professional services has rocketed as organisations depend on external advice to supplement their internal expertise when tackling technological disruptions, pressures to expand overseas, rising costs, and intensifying competition.

Professional services providers diversify from providing traditional services such as audit, tax and other largely regulated or compliance-based services to mainly non-regulated services, such as IT Advisory and Risk Management and Governance (including Internal Audit). 

Another recent report by ACCA titled, “Accounting for a better world: priorities for a transforming profession”, outlines the prominence of the profession in establishing a more prosperous global economy and business environment. 


ADVANCE.AI partners with FinScore to boost alternative credit scoring and fraud prevention in the Philippines and SEA

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Digital CFO Newsroom | 21 March 2022

The partnership will strengthen the robustness of ADVANCE.AI’s credit profiling and risk management capabilities through FinScore’s digital solutions, namely Telco Data Credit Scoring and Fraud Prevention Solutions

ADVANCE.AI, a leading AI company specialising in digital identity verification, risk management and process automation, has signed a strategic data partnership with FinScore to help boost financial inclusion and access to the unbanked and underbanked customers in the Philippines and wider Southeast Asia (SEA). The partnership will strengthen the robustness of ADVANCE.AI’s credit profiling and risk management capabilities through FinScore’s digital solutions, namely Telco Data Credit Scoring and Fraud Prevention Solutions.

FinScore is a financial technology company in the Philippines that offers a powerful credit scoring platform and fraud detection tool based on alternative data, including telco-based data. It is the first company to determine the creditworthiness of 100% of the mobile subscribers in the country, the highest market reach in the Philippine alternative credit scoring market. The company’s mission is to fill the financial gap by providing inclusive credit scoring and improving access to financial services for consumers in the country.

FinScore has been awarded by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) as the 2nd prize winner – Global Category for its ‘Alternative Credit Evaluation (A.C.E) Portal’ solution in the SFF Global FinTech Awards 2021, the highest accolade for FinTech innovation. FinScore is the only Philippines-based company to be awarded in the Global Category.

A leader in artificial intelligence, risk management and digital lending solutions, ADVANCE.AI partners over 1,000+ enterprise clients across banking, financial services, payment, remittance and web3.0. Key clients include CIBI Philippines, Standard Chartered and Shopee. ADVANCE.AI’s One-Stop Platform powers real-time operational response and fraud detection with 100+ data points covering credit bureau, telco, social networks, utility, IP and geolocation. The end result is accurate risk decisions, quickly and easily, on one single platform.

Christo Georgiev, FinScore Country Manager and Chief Operations Officer said: “We are pleased to work with ADVANCE.AI in unlocking the financial empowerment of the unbanked customers in Southeast Asia. We are very much happy in extending our alternative data credit scoring expertise with ADVANCE.AI, so that they can uplift their client’s acceptance rates while managing risk, especially financial institutions focused on buy now, pay later (BNPL) and digital lending services. We look forward to a progressive cooperation in increasing our respective presence in the Southeast Asian market.”

Michael Calma, ADVANCE.AI’s Philippines Country Manager said: “We’re excited to have FinScore as one of our data partners in the Philippines, to accelerate a digitally empowered and financially inclusive Philippines, as well as broader Southeast Asia. This is even more important post-Covid, when the banking and financial services industry needs to digitally onboard and manage the risk profile of their customers quickly, easily and accurately. The end result is better resource efficiency, faster time to market and lower costs.”

A joint media kit is available here.


The Secret Sauce to Improving Your DSO & DPO

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Written by Justin Cunningham, Esker | 2 March 2022

2020 was the year of supplier shortages, drastic demand fluctuations, increased operating costs and liquidity pinches. No matter which end of the spectrum your business was on, supply chain leaders were forced to take a fresh look at their business model to ensure they can weather the next storm and come out on top. For many innovative leaders, this means new ways of thinking and capitalising on digital transformation to realise real results on their balance sheet.

After a year chock full of uncertainties, businesses are finding that the time in which they collect and make payments is having an even bigger impact on their ability to maintain a healthy cashflow. Luckily, there’s a way to speed up both collection and payment through a single, AI-driven platform.

DSO and DPO: What they are and why they matter.

Before diving in too deep, let’s lay some groundwork.

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is the measurement of how long it takes for a company to collect payment on an invoice. The “why it matters” part is pretty straightforward here: the better (or lower) your DSO, the faster your business is getting paid. A high DSO has a tremendous impact on cashflow and revenue and can prevent you from investing in your company’s growth. Reducing DSO, even slightly, can go a long way toward improving financial health.

When it comes to gauging “good” and “bad” DSO, the Credit Research Foundation’s National Summary of Domestic Trade Receivables found that the average DSO in Q2 of 2020 was 41.56 days. As a general benchmark, you can consider anything below 45 days to be a low DSO. Not sure if your DSO is competitive in your industry? Take a look at competitors — they’ll let you know if you’re falling short or not.

Days Payable Outstanding (DPO), on the flipside, is the efficiency ratio for how long it takes for a company to pay its suppliers. And like DSO, it can pack a major punch when it comes to cashflow performance. DPO can also be the determining factor between suppliers considering your company a “good client” or a “bad client”. There’s currently no benchmark for a “healthy” DPO due to the variability of industry, competitive positioning and bargaining power of organisations. That’s why keeping a close eye on your DPO and your competitors’ DPO is important for gauging your payables performance.

This is where you say, “Cool beans, now how exactly do I improve DSO and DPO?”

And that’s when I say, “Shhh, keep reading.”

The “secret sauce” for improving your DSO and DPO.

Let’s not overcomplicate it. Improving any process usually comes down to efficiency, and DSO and DPO are no different. By creating a faster, transparent and streamlined process for collecting payment on invoices and paying suppliers, DSO and DPO will automatically improve. Speaking of automatic …

There’s one thing that forward-thinking business and supply chain leaders have found to be monumental when it comes to all-around efficiency and cashflow performance, and that’s AI-driven automation.

You can’t improve DSO and DPO without optimising the core procure-to-pay (P2P) and order-to-cash (O2C) processes that determine them. These cycles are inextricably intertwined, therefore automating one and not the other can create departmental silos that can result in new inefficiencies, and can be an overall disservice to your ability to optimise working capital.

The secret sauce to a better DSO and DPO isn’t just automating P2P and O2C processes, but automating them through a single, integrated platform that simplifies and standardises your organisation’s finance function as a whole.

Digitally transforming P2P and O2C processes through a single platform leads to better DSO and DPO ratios by:

  • Automating invoices, collections, payments and cash application to make it easy to be paid and pay others in a timely manner
  • Eliminating the costs of resources once needed for manual P2P and O2C processes
  • Providing end-to-end transparency across all workflows and cashflow activities via customisable dashboards
  • Drastically reducing the risk associated with manual cashflow management
  • Improving relationships with suppliers by ensuring timely payment and providing an online self-service portal that makes it easy to communicate, ask questions and access invoices
  • Offering supply chain financing, which allows supplier to bolster their working capital by opting for faster payment in exchange for a discount of finance fee
  • Best-in-class AI-driven data capture that continuously improves the more it’s used
  • Providing a customer self-service portal that allows for easy communication and management of customer information, which ultimately leads to stronger customer relationships

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of automation. For more information and a deeper dive into financial transformation, check out this ebook!

Conclusion

The ideal DSO and DPO, is at any organisation’s discretion. Some want the DSO to be as short as possible while extending DPO as much as they can, so they can keep cash on hand for a longer period of time. Others chose to pay vendor invoices quickly to leverage discounts granted for early payers. However, one thing is for sure: to achieve the desired equilibrium and performance for your P2P and O2C value streams, you have to overcome silos in your finance organisation. You must encourage a cross-department team spirit and understand how the actions of one team will affect the other.

By managing both O2C and P2P on one platform, you’re able to instantly see everything from one view. Giving you a complete and real-time view of your financial health.


A Game Changer in Driving Indonesia Financing Behaviour

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 15 February 2022

Financial literacy is increasing in society over the last few years. However, literacy alone does not mean that it will secure our future financial management. It means that customers need to be prudent in spending, they cannot stop on the satisfied phase and evolve as a relaxed attitude. If customers take the wrong step, there will be a problem.

For instance, daily financial leaks are driven by impulse while sometimes influenced by indulgence. Social media has cultivated this as people get to follow directly pages with their tastes and preferences on food to clothing thus will fall on a bandwagon of impulse purchases that violate people’s budget. These extra coins may seem harmless yet, a given amount of time amounts to a substantial amount worthy.

The customers should learn to recognize their tendency to spend based on emotions and try to curb that bad practice. Based on a recent survey, 2021 OCBC NISP Financial Fitness Index (FFI) about spending habits Indonesian especially young generation, there are 3 basic financial problems. First, about knowledge of financial concepts. Many people who invest only follow trends without a basic understanding of the importance of risk mitigation. Second, financial management habits. There are still many people who are not disciplined in saving because they are tempted by discounts and items that are not needed. This is a part of people tend to spend based on their emotions. The third, the mindset. As many as 37 percent of Indonesians seem to still define wealth only from material wealth.[1]

“All of us can struggle when it comes to making good financial choices, even those who have high levels of education or are naturally financially savvy. Our natural instincts come into play during these decision times. Regardless of the transaction, whether you want to save for a pension, where to invest your money for a future passive income stream, or the mundane choice to buy a new pair of pants, these everyday decisions can impact your financial life. Your choice could spell the difference between a robust bank balance and monthly money problems,” Amir Widjaya, EVP Head of Marketing & Digital Communication Bank OCBC NISP.

Align with that, as a group OCBC also conduct a survey, OCBC Financial Wellness Index to understand Singaporeans’ financial wellness. It was the first time such a comprehensive study – comprising 10 financial wellness pillars and expanded into 24 indicators to understand Singaporeans’ state of financial health – was conducted.

In 2019, OCBC found Singaporeans were good at saving, having insurance, and sticking to a budget, but lagged in growing their wealth, and worried about their finances. In 2020, the financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic was reflected in the Index’s 2-point decline to 61 from 2019’s 63. Singaporeans’ ability to pay off loans was affected, and 3 in 4 Singaporeans were not on track to their chosen retirement lifestyles, with 78% of them underestimating the amount needed by 32%. Less desirable financial habits, including speculating excessively, borrowing money from friends and family, and spending beyond their means, increased.[2]

Meanwhile in 2021, OCBC found the COVID-19 pandemic – and its resulting economic impact and uncertainties – has made Singaporeans adopt better financial habits. Many are using digital financial tools to plan and invest, and they achieve better Index scores than those who do not. More millennials are investing to grow their wealth. Singaporeans are also scoring better in retirement, and more are choosing simpler lifestyles for when they retire. Along with the increase of financial management education.

Financial Fitness Solution.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic uncertainties have spurred Indonesians and also Singaporeans to pay more attention to financial matters. Thus, the group of OCBC realizes that there are public needs and expectations for the role of banks that carry out the educational function in financial management.

This is particularly due to there is a behavior that the Indonesian people are relaxed when it comes to financial management, which tends to ignore them. The main thing is also because of the low level of financial literacy. It is similar note from Financial Services Authority of Indonesia (OJK) data stated that financial literacy in Indonesia is still low in compare with inclusion.[3] Whereas financial management needs to be made every month so that all needs are properly met according to their portions. By having such habits, the hope is that customers can be more secure in terms of financial protection because the budget for the present and the future has been well planned.

The Financial Fitness solution by Bank OCBC NISP focuses on creating young people with the right knowledge, mindset, and financial habits to have a fit financial condition. The Bank hope that they have a ‘getting fit before getting rich’ mindset. Just like a physical fitness program, being financially fit also requires discipline, commitment, and persistence in striving to change the way people manage finances which are supported by general check-ups, guidance, and exercise from a coach/trainer.

To achieve these indicators, of course, the basic thing is the need to improve financial literacy which is important to learn to be financially literate to lead become healthy financial situation. Indonesian Young generation dominated amounted to 74.93 million or 27.94% of the total population of Indonesia.[4]

“Financial literacy needs to be hand in hand, thus, having a creative approach is needed to get our young generation to take the first step as their moment of truth. To start the habits early on, the Bank has designed products that are affordable and manageable called #Save20 program (a mutual fund that starts Rp.20 thousand or equivalent of 1,91 SGD and regular savings program Rp.20 thousand),” Amir added.

In one of the recent activities, Bank OCBC NISP launched Financial Fitness Gym by Nyala OCBC NISP, to change the public’s perspective on Bank branch offices. The Bank wants to become a game-changer to drive people’s perceptions and behavior.

Financial Fitness Gym by Nyala OCBC NISP is open for public. Located in the mall, customers are welcome with a Trainer (Nyala Trainer) where their role is to assist customers on how to be #FinanciallyFit, and also a buddy (Nyala Buddy) served as a mentor to help them plan on them with their financial journey. Furthermore, like any other gyms, the FFGym has also provided with financial classes which are map based on their financial health. Currently, FFGym has more than 80 classes on various topics, accessible offline and online, which also means that everyone in Indonesia can also be part of the Financial Fitness program virtually.

Amir also added “Member of FFGym is free. Everyone who comes to our branch or register online can participate in the financial courses that we plan, consult with our trainer and coach,” Amir said, “We aspire to make Young Indonesians to become #FinanciallyFit and a trendsetter in driving positive behavior for other young generations.” Financial Fitness Gym by Nyala OCBC NISP is a destination of where people should go, a guide on how to manage finances.


Givaudan Automates Order Management and Accounts Payable Globally with Esker

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 9 February 2022

Global leader in flavor and fragrance manufacturing drives growth and expansion plans with comprehensive digital transformation

Esker, a global cloud platform and leader in AI-driven process automation solutions for finance and customer service functions, today announced that Givaudan, the world’s leading manufacturer of flavors and fragrances for the taste and wellbeing and fragrance and beauty markets, has selected Esker to automate its accounts payable (AP) and order management activities. Several years ago, during the design of the Givaudan Business Solution journey, Givaudan decided to implement Esker’s cloud-based solutions globally. 

Givaudan sought an automation solution that could meet its current needs and scale alongside its growing portfolio, as it continues the journey to becoming a Certified B Corporation. These are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance. Givaudan initially engaged Esker to address order entry inefficiencies, and after seeing a positive improvement on order processing time, the company also looked to Esker for its AP needs. By eliminating the need for manual data entry through automation, Esker’s solutions will support Givaudan in improving operational efficiency while allowing staff to focus on building and nurturing customer relationships. 

“Adopting best-in-class technology is paramount in driving our forward-thinking methodology and providing an unmatched customer experience, which is the foundation of everything we do at Givaudan,” said Jan-Willem Scheele, Solution Expert, Customer Care and Demand Planning Service Manager at Givaudan. “Even in today’s unique circumstances, and with newly distributed and remote workforces, our standard for quality work and quick turnaround is unwavering. We look to Esker as a trusted provider to improve and scale our operations with its turnkey and reliable solutions.”

Givaudan is currently rolling out Esker’s AI-driven Accounts Payable and Order Management solutions to its teams worldwide. With shared services centers in Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires and Budapest, Givaudan is continually growing and needed to maximise its capabilities on a global scale. 

Automating Order Management 

Givaudan receives 60 000 orders every month and, before implementing Esker’s AI-driven solution, each order requires several manual changes and selections. Now, Givaudan’s customer care team improves on processing orders without manual intervention every week.  In some regions already up to 20% of the orders are without manual intervention. This has allowed the company to reduce bottlenecks and time-consuming tasks, which in turn improves speed and ensures the quality of order processing—without increasing headcount as Givaudan grows. 

Automating AP 

To further propel its growth and value, Givaudan turned to Esker to support its AP overhaul. Although SAP® offered Givaudan a highly customised solution, the process behind invoice data entry was still highly manual. Integrating Esker’s intelligent invoice capture with SAP plays a pivotal role in meeting Givaudan’s evolving needs, by providing substantial time-savings.  

“Givaudan at heart is a manufacturing company, and given the nuances of handling raw materials, we required a solution that supported the needs of our purchasing channel from end to end,” said Marton Nagy, Global Solution Expert Procure-to-Pay at Givaudan. “On average, we’re processing 2,300 to 2,500 invoices every day across the globe, and the benefits of deploying Esker’s solutions is already clear. Their team took the time to fully understand our needs, quickly outlined how to most effectively improve our AP processes and helped us deploy a new system that serves to simplify our team members’ jobs—so they can concentrate on the aspects of their roles that require human creativity and care.”  

Through AP automation, the company is empowering its accounts payable team members to invest in providing more of the unrivaled customer service for which Givaudan is known.  

“Our goal for automation is not to make our people redundant, but to make them more valuable,” continued Nagy. “We need our employees to be creative, to think, to make sure we go further than where we are today. Automating the tedious, repetitive tasks lets them use their time for more valuable purposes.”

Leveraging Automation Through Change

Givaudan started down the path to automation and the “Esker Touchless Journey” well ahead of the  COVID-19 pandemic, yet its embrace of process automation helped it adapt smoothly to the new way of working. Givaudan attributes a key part of its success during the pandemic – and its ability to adapt to future radical changes in the global business environment – to the implementation process and working closely with the Esker team.


Why AP Automation Is Key In Digitalizing Your Company

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 3 February 2022

Vincent Gao

Founder And CEO of Cyclone Robotics

Change can be frightening, particularly when it comes to replacing processes inside businesses that have been performing the same duties in the same manner for years. However, there are numerous appealing and cost-justifiable advantages to automating, especially when it comes to accounts payable. Although your company may have gotten by with conventional, error-prone, and inefficient AP processes, it may be worthwhile to explore the benefits of automating your accounts and how it may help your finance team to work smarter, not harder.

DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Vincent Gao, Founder and CEO of Cyclone Robotics, on AP Automation and some trends we see pertaining to financial automation services.

Reasons Why The Finance Teams Are Resistant To AP Automation

Data Security Concerns – As the AP process involves a large volume of data that might include highly confidential financial information, data security is a key concern for finance teams. However, by leveraging RPA (Robotic Process Automation), finance teams can eliminate paper-based and manual processes, and allow the whole AP process to run automatically, reducing the risk of data leakages and errors.

Lack of IT Support – Implementation of automation in finance teams is sometimes discouraged by limited IT support and the lack of proper finance IT infrastructure. To solve this, companies should adopt RPA solutions that seamlessly integrate with an enterprise’s existing system with the ability to run across a variety of platforms and software systems, greatly reducing the barriers of deployment.

Concerns of High Implementation Cost – Finance teams might think that they must implement the AP automation across the full department in one go, and therefore are worried about the total cost of ownership. In fact, they can start with implementing task automation to certain parts, such as billing and invoice issuing, which are lower in cost. With proven success, they can then scale and apply automation to the whole AP process.

Misconception of Automation – One of the misconceptions of automation is that robotics will replace humans and make people lose their jobs. This is untrue – RPA can create new ways of working in the digital age and provides employees with a more agile working environment, especially since the pandemic has accelerated the digital skills demand of employees.

Acceleration Of Finance Functions In 2022 Due To A Digitalized Work Model

During the pandemic, more people are choosing to work remotely. Businesses require more digitalized working tools and solutions to help people perform their tasks remotely and securely, even more so as the financial industry handles sensitive documents and data.

To better support employees to manage day-to-day automation tasks by eliminating time-consuming manual processes and minimizing potential human errors, even while working remotely, companies should source for a digital process automation suite of solutions, which is 0-code and easy to deploy. This includes RPA Mobile Designer, different digital bots, and the CIRI Digital Assistant, enabling low-cost and secure process automation.

With the rapid changes of digital systems and applications, the role of CFO is also evolving. With a large volume of data in hand, CFO can now rely on the data analytics to generate more insights about risk and compliance, identify financial disruptions and make smarter decisions.

With the accelerated application of digital operations in more and more finance functions, it also requires better human and machine collaboration and coordination to ensure the smooth and efficient operation.

Benefits of AP Automation In Mitigating Fraud

AP Automation has long been an issue facing many organizations, especially when it comes to transferring documents and forms from unstructured to structured information. The traditional way of avoiding fraud still relies heavily on manual human labor approvals. However, by leveraging RPAs, the AP process can be automated based on clearer layers of approval and procedures. Moreover, with AI and Document Structure Understanding (DSU), users can turn invoices and POs into data, which can form part of the automated process, without needing humans to type or verify documents. The robots work 24×7 which increases efficiency and productivity, allowing users to focus on more strategic tasks. Ultimately, enabling the CFOs to mitigate frauds more steadily.

If there is no clear approval procedure and roles & responsibilities, it is difficult for the RPA to run the AP process. Companies should look for solutions that cover the whole lifecycle of digital transformation, including phases of requirements discovery, design, testing, and operation & maintenance, creating a positive feedback loop that accelerates improvement. This is how Cyclone Robotics’ solutions can help CFOs to review the process, find out missing parts and improve their processes. Therefore, AP automation not only enable CFOs to mitigate fraud, but also improves the process, ensure better data accuracy, and save costs.

Companies worldwide are undergoing digital transformation in their finance functions, however, while digital operation is the key to transformation, it is often overlooked. As Gartner defined, digital operation is the “processing” center of digital transformation, providing the orchestration of systems and other resources.

“Automation will play a bigger role in digital operations within the finance functions in the future.”

Vincent Gao, Founder And CEO of Cyclone Robotics

Earlier this year, Gartner identified hyper-automation as one of the top strategic technology trends of 2022, and noted that RPA enriched by AI has become its core enabling technology. To empower automation in finance functions, it is key to integrate AI technology to drive intelligent operations.
With the accelerated application of digital operations to more and more finance functions, the role of people is also changing, and a new form of human-machine collaboration is emerging. Employees can interact with the machines depending on the complexity of tasks, either working closely with the robot and managing its interaction directly or allowing the robot to operate on its own while the employee plays a monitoring role. In the future, new skills will be required for employees to collaborate with the robots in either role.

In relation to finance services, it is imperative to take a closer look at the different categories in the field. The first category is shared finance service – where humans handle procedures related to pay, such as expense, reimbursement, asset accounting, tax submission. In this category, they will require tools or solutions to further minimize disruption and improve task efficiency.

The next category is strategic finance, which manages relationships with customers. This is an area where they can improve using automation, tax management, fund management, capital management, risk management. We are seeing more data and documentation processed digitally. The CFO needs to enable their own team to be able to handle finance management. Therefore, there’s going to be a role shift – finance teams must learn how to collaborate with bots in a more productive and efficient way.

The third category is business finance, which relates to finance deals with budgeting and planning, deals with project management, operation, and analysis. It will require more data analytics to provide insight to support them to make business decisions.


In essence, automating AP processes is inevitable especially when companies are required to digitize due to the ongoing pandemic. With Automated AP Processes, companies can reduce human errors, time spent and are able to conveniently keep track of their payments on a single platform. Despite change being scary and needing time for employees to adjust, companies need to focus on the long-term benefits of it. Overall AP processes will ensure the continuity of businesses.


BlackLine Acquires FourQ, Redefining Intercompany Financial Management

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 28 January 2022

Acquisition strengthens BlackLine’s intercompany accounting solutions, adding advanced tax and statutory reporting compliance capabilities to its financial operations management platform

Accounting automation software leader BlackLine, Inc. (Nasdaq: BL) announced today that it has completed the acquisition of FourQ Systems, Inc., a leader in intercompany financial management technology.  With FourQ, BlackLine enhances its existing intercompany accounting automation capabilities, further strengthening its position with the Office of the Controller by driving end-to-end automation of traditionally manual intercompany accounting processes and accelerating BlackLine’s larger, long-term plan for transforming and modernizing finance and accounting (F&A). 

Global trade, mergers and acquisitions, and ever-changing tax regulations create growing headaches for global F&A teams.  As a result, intercompany accounting—the management of financial transactions between separate legal entities that belong to the same corporate group—has become a big drain on valuable F&A resources for multinational companies and been cast into the global spotlight.  The inherent complexity of intercompany financial management creates an unsustainable operating environment for organizations looking to modernize F&A operations.  With the acquisition of FourQ, BlackLine can further reduce intercompany complexity and help customers execute an effective global tax strategy.

“Intercompany accounting is one of the biggest distractions for finance and accounting for multinational corporations. Hard to believe, but most companies are still using legacy, repetitive and manual processes to manage intercompany, exposing their businesses to unnecessary costs, significant compliance risks, and missed working capital and tax opportunities,” said BlackLine CEO Marc Huffman. Built by F&A and tax experts, FourQ’s intercompany financial management software delivers automated intercompany processing to help streamline the global operations of its customers.  With FourQ’s technology, those customers have increased their operational productivity and efficiency through improved intercompany billing, payment and tax optimization.


FourQ technology complements existing BlackLine functionality by adding advanced tax capabilities and improving regulatory compliance in areas such as statutory reporting and transfer pricing.  With FourQ, companies can better enforce and optimize their global tax strategies.  As a result, companies can generate significant value by assuring compliance with tax laws including new e-invoicing mandates, optimizing effective tax rates, and reducing foreign currency risk exposure to improve working capital and drive profitability.

“FourQ and BlackLine share a vision to help optimize customers’ global operations for greater profitability and efficiency while freeing F&A teams to focus on strategic aspects of their business,” said Varun Tejpal, co-founder and CEO of FourQ who will serve as managing director, Intercompany at BlackLine going forward.  “At the same time, FourQ meets a need in the Office of the Controller that is highly complementary to BlackLine’s comprehensive financial operations management platform.  I look forward to reducing the headaches caused by messy intercompany accounting processes and further cementing BlackLine’s market-leading position as we join forces to help customers continue to advance their intercompany journeys.”

In a recent report, Ventana Research asserts that corporations with even a modestly complex legal entity structure that operate in more than a handful of tax jurisdictions and with ERP systems from multiple vendors will likely find measurable benefits from adopting intercompany financial management.  The report goes on to say that doing so enables them to address the problems created by an uncoordinated approach to intercompany transactions built on inconsistent and incomplete data.   “By moving to a modern intercompany accounting environment and eliminating distraction, companies can unlock capacity in F&A to focus on what matters most to the business,” added Mr. Huffman.

 BlackLine completed the acquisition of FourQ on Jan. 26, 2022.  In accordance with the terms and conditions of the transaction, BlackLine acquired FourQ for $165 million payable at close, plus earnout consideration of up to $75 million over the next three years subject to certain financial performance milestones.  BlackLine funded the transaction with existing cash on-hand.  Additional details regarding the acquisition will be provided in conjunction with BlackLine’s fourth quarter and year-end earnings conference call on Thursday, Feb. 10th, 2022.


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