Flash Friday is a weekly live show that brings the latest fintech news and developments to the audience.
On 26th March, Don Ginsel – CEO and Founder at Holland Fintech had a chat session with Talin Bezmen – VP of Market Development EMEA at Workiva to discuss the topic of financial reporting, risk management, and the ESG landscape. Workiva is a global software as a service company which provides a cloud-based connected and reporting compliance platform for users so that they can make use of connected data and automation of reporting across finance, accounting, risk, and compliance. In this morning chat, Talin Bezemen answered the most relevant questions about business management, social factors in financial reporting and shared her insights on the future of public transformation for private companies.
Topics discussed and key points addressed:
What parties do you mostly work for? What are your typical clients?
We work closely with publicly traded companies in the US. Our starting point is the SCC reporting and regulatory reporting. Since then, we have expanded and worked closely with financial services companies, banking and insurance. We also focus on how to solve the pain that the clients have when they are in a complex process of financial report. By adding more value and making the process less complicated, we bring people in a singular platform to minimize the difficulties and increase the financial transparency.
Since there is a lot of pressure on investors to be aware of what they are investing in, what is your opinion for that given the context that we are better at understanding different layers of the value chain?
We hear a lot from our investors that we have to go beyond what is in the financial document and the balance sheet. Furthermore, there are also a couple of questions we need to answer: What is the story behind?, What is the social and governance perspective?, What is the company investing in?, What are companies putting at the forefront and does that tie to their values? And if the steps behind the chain are not transparent, it will cause a lot of confusion and controversy. And nowadays, a lot of big companies start to integrate ESG into their stories. There are also a lot of catching up in the non-financial world to create similar efficiencies and transparency, but also to ensure a high standard of the end results.
Do you think that social factors, such as the wealth gap, are elements which need to be included in the reporting?
Absolutely. If you go on social media, you will see companies posting what they do for the community, for the stakeholders, for the employees, for example: creating a diversity program. People are now telling these stories not only in annual reports of sustainability, but also in real life. It is really important for the brand to focus on social values which are beyond the benefits they get from business activities. We start to see more ESG investment in the business management plan. In the past, factor E(Environment) might draw more attention but nowadays factors S(Social) and G(Governance) are gaining equal importance in the financial performance of companies.
What would you advise companies which may transform from private to public? How should they get started?
Workiva also started as a private company and also went through a journey to go public. The transition between 2 stages is extremely important because the company has to be transparent, and be able to identify the action, direction, and responsibility. Given the context of the digital age, where data is so much easier to access and stakeholders are so much easier to identify, we need to take extra consideration in every piece of published report and information. My advice is that companies need to ensure transparency, regular updates, timely manner and to provide a good story for the growth strategy. If there are mistakes in the document, they will get caught quickly so it’s also essential to have a process that they can trust and have a source where they can get support during the transformation process.
In the last note, Talin revealed the next step for Workiva is to place more focus on automation where clients don’t have to go through manual processes to analyse data. Furthermore, the company will also dive more into the non-financial data, incorporate more ESG and mandate business solutions, keep up with trends and provide an easy-trusting process for their customers.
Learn more about Workiva HERE!
In case you missed this interesting virtual meeting, check out the recording below!