Six Real Complaints from Accountants about the Financial Close Process

Blog post

The month-end close process is a complex, tedious process that can leave your head swimming and mind fraught with stress, especially if you’re doing it manually. But don’t worry — you’re not alone. In fact, thousands, if not millions, of finance teams across the world feel the same way. In a recent market survey, we found that global finance departments criticized similar aspects of the financial close process.

Did your concerns make the list?

“We have too many transactions to process on top of all the spreadsheet work we have to do.”

Accountants have always had a love/hate relationship with spreadsheets. On one hand, spreadsheets are a multi-purpose tool that allows fast formula calculations for thousands of entries. But on the other hand, it’s incredibly easy to make a mistake and even a single mistake can throw your whole process off.

Additionally, spreadsheets also don’t offer any executive insight into your progress or challenges, so it’s almost impossible for a CEO or CFO to know what is really happening with their company’s finances.

“Management expects us to close our books faster every year.”

Although technology has improved several aspects of daily life in the modern world, finance departments still lag behind. Still, even without the assistance of better technology, management expects the financial close process to be faster than ever before, so their teams often trade accuracy for speed—a tradeoff that can greatly harm their finances in the end.

“We use three different applications for three different processes: accounting in ERP, reconciling in Excel, and reporting with an in-house system!

Using different platforms for different processes brings more complications to an already complex system. Instead of spending their energy on a more effective, faster close, finance teams are often stuck copying and pasting data across applications; this is not the right way to do business if you want to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced world.

“There’s an overall lack of visibility.”

Financial Directors and CFOs need the whole monthly close process to be transparent in order to be able to check for fraud and ensure accuracy and compliance. However, spreadsheets do not provide any tools for this much-needed aspect of the financial close process.

“There’s not enough time or accountants to be able to reconcile every single account and analyze our month-end figures.”

Because of all the problems involved in the close process, there’s virtually no time to analyze the company’s financials—a critical aspect of a financial controller’s duties. Finance staff would love to sink their teeth into analysis work, but, because of tasks like account reconciliation, there’s just not enough time!

“The biggest challenge is to achieve a faster, more reliable close, and to make it efficient.”

This statement seems to sum up the general feelings of finance teams. Generally, highly-educated, intelligent accountants don’t want to spend their days flipping through binders and endlessly scrolling through spreadsheets. Just like their executive counterparts, finance teams just want a reliable, accurate monthly close that allows them to provide strategic insights to their counterparts throughout the company.

Is that an unrealistic expectation? No, not at all!

To find out how to make your monthly financial close process more efficient and effective, check out our guide to financial close management.

Written by: Ashton Mathai