Staying on top of regulatory requirements, in all areas of finance and accounting, is a constant test on departments’ skills and knowledge. Ensuring compliance across existing regulations that impact your organisation, regardless of territories is a challenge. For multinational companies, working across multiple jurisdictions, this magnifies the problem, and current events are making the job even harder.
Over 50 countries, around the globe, have published changes to their tax and accounting regulations over the last couple of weeks. This is, of course, hugely disruptive and comes at a time when companies and governments are working to find a way through the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. While jurisdictions often work together to determine harmony or at least compatibility within their tax and accounting regimes, this cannot always be guaranteed. Different countries are now relaxing filing deadlines and introducing payment deferments or reductions for taxes. Each country and treasury will have its own goals for policy introductions and there will be different political and economic drivers to consider. The situation is complex and fluid with many inconsistencies.
While you can’t change the outside influences on your tax and finance department, you can improve things internally to help your organisation become more agile. Consider how you manage the transition from one regulatory change to another across jurisdictions and look at how you can control adherence to policies in a hands-off way. You should also look at how your team communicates and shares information in the new normal we are all adapting to. If you already have some kind of centralised control over tax and finance processes then you may already be making progress in these key areas.
There’s no doubt that technology has a huge role to play across the modern tax and finance function. Not only does it make you more agile as a team, but importantly as a business too. As many companies are already discovering cloud technology, in particular, can help you to stay on top of ever-changing regulatory requirements and remain compliant.
If you don’t already use any kind of cloud technology in your tax or accounting departments, it might be difficult to see how it, and even other technology areas such Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) can make a real difference. But you won’t need to look far to find examples of where it is helping in other areas of your business. Speak with your IT department about how it benefits them or other departments and it may reveal ways you can make life easier for your teams with little effort.
Equally, think about your life outside work, most people use the cloud at home more than work, even if they do not realise it. Draw a parallel with the internal challenges we mentioned: better sharing, better control, more convenience, or help with a specialist task. You will find you can draw comparisons with the challenges you now face. But also think about other colleagues in the tax and finance industry and make use of forums and publications to learn from others’ experiences.
We’ve previously discussed how the make-up of tax and finance teams are evolving with a dramatic increase of millennials and Gen-Xers in the mix but with enforced lockdown and people working from home your teams’ abilities have just advanced more than you could have ever imagined. People can no longer fight change. Introducing new cloud services will no longer be seen as a change for change’s sake, but as a necessity for departments to operate effectively and efficiently.
And remember, people’s ability to adapt to this new world may surprise you. It’s now up to you to turn this situation into an opportunity where you can improve the way your tax and finance function operates by better equipping teams, reducing the stress and worry, all without compromising on compliance.
This post was created in response to the COVID-19 virus and its impact on tax and finance professionals. For more information to help support you and your business, visit our COVID-19 resource center.