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Firms and regulators are still trying to determine what’s worth disclosing to investors (Wall Street Journal)
Finance chiefs and regulators are attempting to change one of the most fundamental parts of their job — determining what information is most important to share with investors.
The Wall Street Journal reports that regulators in the US and abroad are playing with the concept of “materiality,” or what is necessary for publicly traded companies to disclose to shareholders.
“Material” is a term that varies from regulator to regulator and across various forms of government. Because of the complex nature of materiality the sorting process for many companies has become complex and costly. The Journal reports that “at least a half-dozen standard setters, including accounting rule makers, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and various stock exchanges, have guidelines on the subject.”
Internal auditors are starting to focus on figuring out their organizational culture (Journal of Accountancy)
Internal auditors are focusing more of their energy on assessing their company’s culture.
A recent poll by the Institute of Internal Auditors Financial Services Audit Center found more than half (56%) of auditors identified culture as a high risk to an organisation.
Despite those findings, only 37% of respondents said cultural assessment was embedded in their existing programs. Only 7% said they have specific audit programs focused on organizational culture.
Cross-functional collaboration is finally becoming a reality for many departments that have previously remained in their own walled-off silos.
New research from PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that a shift in customer behaviour is forcing this new shift to some extent.
The study focuses on a common scenario in which a company takes a cost-driven step to reduce inventory or customer-service staffing.
“Customers then see empty shelves or suffer frustratingly slow response times, and in today’s world they’re not going to be patient in the face of such negative experiences for long,” CFO.com reports.
There are risks, PwC says, when “each function improves its own performance without thinking of cross-functional trade-offs and customer impacts first.”
To understand what customers demand involves an increasing amount of function-to-function collaboration.
In a recent letter to clients, the law firm Davis Polk revealed that an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions are occurring on the weekend.
The firm says because of complex corporate accounting, information technology, and other systems, careful execution is required, and weekend closings “will take advance planning and cooperation by the parties, their advisers, financing sources, and other transaction participants.”
Davis Polk adds that companies prefer a weekend close, particularly towards the end of the month, because “accounting systems sometimes have issues with a cut-off date that’s not at month’s end for purposes of preparing the closing balance sheets and financial statements. Plus, a weekend closing allows technology and operational teams to get their ducks in a row before business reopens on Monday.”
The report says many companies use intra-bank transfers where both the seller and the buyer have accounts at the same bank to get around the issue of Federal Reserve wires being closed down for non-banking hours.
Thinking like a CFO can extend beyond the workplace. Steph Wagner at Entrepreneur suggests that we should think like finance chiefs when dealing with money in our own lives.
In her post Wagner writes, “I always put at least 20% of my take-home pay into savings; it’s a nonnegotiable expense. To do this, I limit my fixed overhead to no more than 45% of my income. Allocating at least 35% to variable costs (food, entertainment, clothing, vacations) enables me to control my expenses and consistently meet my savings goal.”
Her analogy continues by explaining how a company allocating “too much of its retained earnings toward growth is often starved for cash and forced to rely on alternative — and expensive — ways to fund its daily operations. The same can happen to you: Poor cash management will inevitably force you to rely on credit cards.”
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