Driven by data
A key to driving successful transformation is data and technology. Indeed, banks surveyed by EY overwhelmingly indicated that the lack of a sustainable plan for data and technology is, by far, the biggest barrier to delivering a tax and finance functions’ purpose and vision.
All too often, different functions within a bank fail to share data in the most efficient, effective way possible. This challenge is magnified for tax and finance functions, who need to focus on data sources and transaction-level information to comply with global tax rules.
Many banks’ tax and finance functions use a tax reporting package, consolidation ledger, or disconnected spreadsheets as a primary source for tax data, necessitating a significant investment of time and effort in various data cleansing activities. As the percentage of time devoted to data collection, cleansing, and manipulation increases, these functions struggle with reduced efficiency and increased risk, ultimately compromising operational effectiveness.
“When it comes to data, there is often a gap between sources and uses of information,” says Schiffman. “For instance, financial accounting data often isn’t easily able to suit tax requirements without intervention. Unless the tax and finance functions think and act strategically about the tax data supply chain, information created for one purpose may be used for another purpose in a way that inadvertently introduces incremental risk.”
As the global operating environment continues to shift, internal and external stakeholders alike are increasingly demanding ever-increasing volumes of information that must be timely, accurate, and complete. As such, the value of a comprehensive data and sustainable technology strategy cannot be overstated, as too much time and resources are consumed in simply trying to aggregate and reconcile information.
With tax becoming more real-time and transaction-based, banks’ tax and finance functions should actively participate in the design and governance of financial systems to help ensure data quality through correct processing at the time of transaction. A methodical and accessible central ecosystem – including a central data lake where information is sourced, acquired, cleansed, and structured to ensure it is constantly up to date and always at hand – forms a critical part of high-performing tax and finance functions.
“The data lake gives you all the individual data points you’d find in a database, from various sources — the market, business transactions, investments, and subsidiaries – plus the data the organization generates itself in the course of its work,” says John Thomopoulos, EY Global Banking & Capital Markets Tax Leader.
“By being cleansed and always updated, every person in the workflow can be sure the computation they’re picking up is the correct one. The data lake is deeper than the typical database because it preserves historic reporting and its results.”
By adopting this approach, the tax and finance functions become much more operationally efficient and empowered – creating cost and time savings that can be redeployed elsewhere across the organization, while driving better planning, analytics, and business decisions. It also positions banks to comply with emerging digital tax filing requirements, which will only increase the workload of their tax and finance functions.