The Importance of Continuous Support in Financial Controls Management: Tips for Evaluating Providers
Companies in all industries and business sectors ought to have a well-established risk management strategy in place. Within that strategy, financial controls management plays a critical role. The reason? Criminals of all kinds — including cybercriminals — tend to target a company’s financials and/or data.
Most business leaders recognize the importance of financial controls management, but few know how to actually deploy a robust initiative for financial controls management. For this reason, they may opt to outsource the tasks associated with effective financial controls management.
What is Financial Controls Management?
To fully appreciate the importance of continuous support relative to a company’s risk management landscape, you will need a solid understanding of what a company’s financial controls management practices actually entail.
At the most basic level, you can define financial controls as the processes, policies, protocols, and any other measures designed to prevent fraud, theft, and even the honest errors that occur within a company’s financial operations. In cases where a business cannot prevent or fully mitigate a threat, the goal is to minimize the scope, gravity, and impact of the event in question.
Putting this term to work, let’s examine a few examples of commonly-encountered financial controls.
- Double-counting cash prior to making a deposit.
- Bank account reconciliation.
- Rotating responsibilities for staff who are working with the company.
- Thorough background checks and vetting for new contractors and vendors that may have access to a company’s financials.
Accounting processes have a major impact on the realm of financial control management. A business may opt to outsource controls such as cash flow statements, balance sheets, and profit and loss statements.
It is not uncommon to encounter special security-centric processes and protocols for data collection, data storage, and data management processes.
Financial Control includes internal controls, delegation of authority procedures, segregation of duties, system access controls, and document filing and storage procedures.
How Does Continuous Support Impact Financial Controls Management?
Continuous support empowers a business, especially when that support is outsourced. This frees a company’s in-house resources to focus on higher-level tasks and projects that deliver maximum ROI.
Continuous support impacts financial controls management by ensuring that everyone has the tools and knowledge they need to manage a company’s financial controls and any incident that involves those controls. Managing financial controls in-house can be quite challenging, especially when your company is actively confronting a threat, vulnerability, or risk management-related event. Enter a third-party outsourcing partner who can deliver financial controls management services and continuous support for those services.
How to Evaluate Financial Controls Management Service Providers
Not all financial controls management service providers are created equal, especially in the financial business space where you have so many potential risk factors at play. It is prudent for a business to evaluate candidates in a few different ways.
Determine if the candidate has worked with clients in your specific industry
Each industry and business space is unique and this must be taken into account as you select a partner to oversee your company’s financial controls management services. Experience and expertise are especially important for a business in a high-risk industry such as banking, lending, the healthcare space, or the financial sector. Continuous support is exceedingly important for these businesses.
What is your process for onboarding a new client?
Who is seeking continuous support for their financial controls management efforts? It’s important that you know what to expect, especially when it comes to your finances. Remember to ask about timelines, deliverables, status updates, and reports. Don’t forget to ask questions such as, “How do you establish and manage expectations?” and “How will I be alerted and pulled into the loop if a problem arises?”
How do you assign roles and responsibilities today, during the onboarding process, and down the road on a long-term basis?
Many projects slide off the rails when roles and responsibilities are not clearly outlined at the outset. Confusion and uncertainty will ultimately lead to operational errors and mishaps.
To keep everybody and everything on track, you must have a good understanding of roles, responsibilities, and exactly how these roles and responsibilities will change as a service provider enters the equation. In some cases, a third-party contractor will assume all financial controls management tasks, while in other cases, they may take on just a portion of these tasks. Whatever the case, you’ll need to know exactly where that division line stands so that in-house staff and contractors aren’t stepping on each others’ toes.
What are the limitations and exclusions as they relate to providing continuous support?
“Continuous” support may only be continuous during specific times of day and/or on specific days of the week. For example, a service provider may only offer continuous support during normal business hours or on certain days of the week. It is for this reason that you must ask questions so that you are clear on what to expect.
Evaluate the service provider’s reputation (or background in the case of an individual contractor)
Perform a bit of research to learn more about a company’s reputation. Ratings and reviews should always be considered with a grain of salt. This is especially true when you consider the fact that a client with a negative experience is many times more likely to publish a negative review or rating when compared to a client who had a positive experience. But they can offer crucial insights into what it’s like to work with a particular service provider.
On the last point about researching a service provider’s reputation or background, remember to perform periodic re-checks. Circumstances and behaviors change. For instance, a company may come under new ownership, leading to operational changes that your company’s stakeholders view as objectionable. This is yet another example of how the ever-evolving risk management landscape can impact a business.
Ongoing support for a company’s financial controls management initiatives can bring many benefits, including cost savings. But you must find the right service provider for your needs. Otherwise, you could find your business wading through the muck with an initiative gone wrong. On the other hand, a well-thought-out deployment with the perfect outsourcing partner can bring tremendous benefits, including a healthy return on investment (ROI.)
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Using the Best Risk Management Software to Minimize Threats and Vulnerabilities
Risk management is just plain difficult, regardless of the business type, size, or industry. Pulling in a new partner to deliver continuous support for your company’s financial controls management initiatives represents a great opportunity — it’s an opportunity to gain a strategic advantage with a well-developed risk management software solution.
The best risk management platforms feature a variety of tools and capabilities that allow an organization to manage very specific risk factors and vulnerabilities.
At iTech, risk management technology is one of our specialties. We also work one-on-one with business leaders to gain an understanding of their goals and objectives. Then, we set off to architect a solution that is designed to solve problems and elevate the organization’s productivity and profitability. Contact the iTech team today to begin a discussion about your business and its financial controls management strategy.