Account reconciliations is one of those necessary steps of the financial close and reporting process that can be tedious and time-consuming. Why do we do them? The main reason for performing account reconciliations is to ensure consistency and accuracy in financial reporting. This process is especially important and is a key internal control for publicly held companies that need to report financial results to external stakeholders, with detailed audit trails available to back-up all account balances.
Why so tedious? Because for larger enterprises, there are often 100’s to 1000’s of accounts that need to be reconciled each period. And the process is further complicated by the number of users involved in the process at various divisions and locations across the enterprise.
Limited Help from Spreadsheets and Point Solutions
How do organizations manage the process? Many organizations struggle to manage the account reconciliations process with Excel spreadsheets – which are known to be error-prone and lacking in audit trails.
Some organizations have implemented purpose-built software applications for account reconciliations. These solutions offer specific functionality designed to support and automate the process, providing users a big advantage over spreadsheets and manual processes. However, most of these applications are standalone, and are disconnected from the consolidated financial results. Why does this matter? Because as financial results are being updated during the financial close and consolidation process, the account reconciliations can get out of synch and need to be redone – further extending the financial close process.
The Carlyle Group, and our partner Finit Solutions joined one of our recent webinars to share how they have transformed their account reconciliations process with OneStream. Hosted by OneStream’s Craig Colby, the webinar featured Anand Hemraj and Elizabeth Downton from The Carlyle Group, and Max Roberts from OneStream partner Finit. Here’s a summary of the webinar discussion.
The Carlyle Group’s OneStream Journey
The Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) is a global alternative asset manager with over $220B in assets under management (AUM), 365 investment vehicles, and over 1700 employees in 32 offices around the world. Prior to their conversion to OneStream, Carlyle had been using a variety of legacy applications to support their financial close, consolidation, reporting, account reconciliations, planning and budgeting processes.
Their journey with OneStream started in 2017, with the replacement of SAP Business Objects Planning and a homegrown HR budgeting application. In 2018, they extended their deployment by replacing Oracle Hyperion Financial Management and FDM with OneStream for financial consolidation and reporting. Later in 2018, they extended their use of the OneStream People Planning solution to HR business partners. And in 2019, Carlyle completed their decommission of the legacy Hyperion applications by moving the account reconciliations process from Oracle Accounts Reconciliations Management (ARM) to OneStream’s Account Reconciliations solution from the XF MarketPlace.
As a result, Carlyle now has most of their key finance processes unified through OneStream (figure 1):
Figure 1 – OneStream Deployment at The Carlyle Group
Carlyle’s Account Reconciliation Challenges
There were several drivers of Carlyle’s conversion from Oracle ARM to OneStream for Account Reconciliations. For one, the platform had accrued significant technical debt. The Hyperion application was running on a Windows Server 2008, which was going off support, and the application was not certified for use on Windows 10. The company wasn’t utilizing the oracle support and 3rd party maintenance as much as it thought and was incurring significant costs ($400K per year) to run it. From a business process standpoint, the prior ARM design did not support account reconciliations outside of Corporate Accounting.
Another challenge Carlyle had is something I highlighted earlier in this article. Since they were consolidating their financial results in OneStream, and performing account reconciliations in Oracle ARM, GL trial balances had to be loaded into both systems (figure 2). And not all of their account reconciliations were being performed in Oracle ARM. International divisions were performing them manually, which provided limited corporate visibility and additional work by the auditors at year-end.
The Benefits of Unifying Account Reconciliations with Financial Reporting
Starting the project with Finit in July 2019, and going live in November that year, Carlyle successfully moved their corporate and international account reconciliations into OneStream. This approach yielded several benefits for the Carlyle team, which are noted below:
- Centralized account reconciliations within a single solution for all accounting teams
- Utilizing the same GL feed for both consolidations and account reconciliations, thereby reducing the data footprint and any differences
- Decentralized admin duties to managers within each of the accounting groups
- User friendly interface made change management and adoption easy
- Better auditing documentation and reporting
- Built-in dashboard (figure 3) provides visibility into the overall status of the reconciliations
Figure 3 – OneStream Account Reconciliation Dashboard
Now that the project is completed and successful, Carlyle is planning to move additional account reconciliations for their Fund Accounting group into OneStream as well.
To learn more about how The Carlyle Group unified their critical financial reporting and planning processes, watch and listen to the replay of the webinar. And contact us if you are ready to take the leap from spreadsheets or legacy solutions to OneStream’s unified finance platform.