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Easing the Pain of Financial Reporting (Well, the Data Preparation and Publishing Part, Anyway)

At most Wall Street firms, the preparing of quarterly and annual reports is a tense, stressful time of Excel files being emailed back and forth and behind-closed-door meetings at which financial numbers are presented, reviewed and approved. Two products aim to help walk you through this process, automatically routing data to the right people and acquiring their approvals (using electronic signatures), providing the controls that Sarbanes-Oxley and accounting practices require, and producing stat

At most Wall Street firms, the preparing of quarterly and annual reports is a tense, stressful time of Excel files being emailed back and forth and behind-closed-door meetings at which financial numbers are presented, reviewed and approved. Two products aim to help walk you through this process, automatically routing data to the right people and acquiring their approvals (using electronic signatures), providing the controls that Sarbanes-Oxley and accounting practices require, and producing statements for the SEC in the necessary Word and XBRL formats (as well as PDF and Excel).One is Clarity Systems' brand-new Financial Statement Reporting module. It can accept data from an Excel file, ERP or general ledger system, put it through the proper workflows, and generate 10K, 10Q, board book and other financial documents. It provides an audit trail for the regulators and reusable templates. This is a new area for Clarity, which in the past has focused on corporate performance management software. The new module works with the rest of the Clarity 6 suite, so that the tasks of planning, analyzing and reporting on performance, including regulatory reports, can all be tied together.

The other is Movaris' two-year-old, more fully featured OneClose software. In addition to automating the final reporting processes of quarterly and yearly financial closes, the vendor provides Account Reconciliation software that automates the process of comparing account information drawn from various sources, flagging variances, and making corrections, arguably the hardest and least desirable work involved in closing the books. One out of every five SEC material weakness filings are due to account reconciliation mistakes. Options backdating, for instance, is the hot issue at the moment for the SEC and many of its subjects.

"These products are a real timesaver for a lot of firms," notes Jim Haggerty, analyst at AMR Research. "There's probably a need out there for this kind of software. Companies can get by without it, but wouldn't it be great to do pushbutton reporting?"

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