13 August 2019

Get off of spreadsheets: Avoid financial risk

By Mike Gill

A quick Google search of “high profile spreadsheet errors” will turn up enough examples to scare any C-suite executive still relying on them, and in recent years some of these figures have been large (in the billions, not thousands). Simple mistakes made by competent professionals can have significant impact when those calculations are being used to make financial decisions. Not only can these errors cause firms money directly, they can also come with additional fines from regulators that turn injury into… more injury. The good news is that there are other options to relying on a complex spreadsheet.

The most common reasons cited for financial errors from spreadsheet management are copy and paste, typos and formatting. More rarely, but with greater impact, is when an expert professional is out for the day and a substitute needs to execute a macro that only one person really knows how it works. A reliance on spreadsheets is actually a reliance on absolute organizational perfection, not to mention key employee risk. Yet, despite the lack of oversight and formal controls, these calculations are still used by finance, accounting, sales, and operations to make critical business decisions.

Another complication is who owns the actual data that feeds into spreadsheets. Data often sits in multiple business lines and may be touched by a number of departments before it arrives at the spreadsheet user. No one person or group is tasked with validating the set as a whole. Unfortunately, there is no practical way for the end-user to know what is right or wrong when delivering their conclusions that results in financial decisions.

These spreadsheet risks are recognized by front, middle, and back office personnel as a real problem. Sometimes groups are afraid to take on what seems to be the daunting task of replacing spreadsheets in favor of a stable application that validates data and ensures consistency in calculations. At the same time, the increasing potential for financial risk has become too pressing to avoid.

The core of Syncova’s platform is a set of rules-based calculation engines that are configurable and extensible to support any calculation methodology. Syncova is vendor agnostic, and imports the data directly from internal systems, eliminating the need to cut and paste. Because the process is fully automated, typos are avoided entirely. Formatting is done in a controlled and closely monitored environment, creating a standard and repeatable process. While the system is designed to be transparent, access can be limited to any and all parts of the system by and administrator. This process ensure that all teams are using the same, centrally located and monitored set of rules.

Request a demo today to learn how Syncova from SS&C Advent can help avoid financial risk.