Intercompany financial management (IFM) refers to the practice of organizing, authorizing, and handling financial processes that occur between a corporation’s legal entities. These activities include intercompany transactions, accounting, tax, policies, etc. The main goal of IFM is to support the achievement of business objectives by improving productivity and accuracy, ensuring compliance with tax and regulatory standards.
As companies grow, smooth and efficient intercompany processes are essential. Unfortunately, a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research found that 96% of respondents encountered challenges with intercompany activities and 99% agree that intercompany processes are becoming increasingly complex and challenging. Without a solution in place, poor IFM can negatively impact business outcomes, resulting in huge time-wastes manually correcting errors and costly penalties from non-compliance. Continue reading for five tips to streamline your intercompany financial management.
Tip #1 | Foster clear internal communication around shared responsibility
Lack of ownership combined with a perceived lack of importance is one of the key barriers to efficient intercompany financial management. According to Deloitte’s Intercompany Accounting and Process Management Survey, 50% of respondents identified a lack of defined ownership of intercompany processes, resulting in poor financial visibility. Often companies assume that the finance department will handle it; however, intercompany processes are a shared responsibility that require a holistic approach.
Clear communication that establishes roles and manages expectations is vital to overcoming this barrier. Enacting global accounting policies and implementing an intercompany accounting framework are two best practices for intercompany transactions that can provide a consistent structure for your team to follow.
Tip #2 | Increase cash liquidity with automation
Cash liquidity is a vital component of a business’ survivability and profitability. Maintaining an appropriate balance empowers leadership to acquire necessities, secure new financing, and deploy funding—bolstering expansion initiatives.
The previously mentioned survey by Deloitte also found that 54% of respondents rely on manual intercompany processing and struggle with limited counterparty visibility to support reconciliation and elimination. Without at least partial automation to augment human productivity, companies often suffer from bottlenecks and poor cash flow. That’s why many companies are investing in automation to solve intercompany challenges.
Tip #3 | Don’t lose financial visibility, gain granular insights
Many businesses choose to pay intercompany charges in lump sum amounts due to difficulties in manually applying the correct classification and breakdown of expenses, but this is a bad habit that must be addressed. Over-simplification can skew your financial data, weakening the credibility of your analyses and making it difficult to defend your intercompany prices to authorities. You also lose clarity when forecasting or determining whether the company met performance targets.
Suitable ERP software with multiple element revenue allocation functionality will help you maintain a well-defined database that enables your finance team to dig into the nitty-gritty. Proper allocations and reporting provide leadership with valuable information and enable complete insight into historical transactions.
Further reading: Financial consolidations for multi-companies (FAQs answered)
Tip # 4 | Pay close attention to tax and compliance
Tax risks and considerations have a huge impact on financial performance and strategy. An issue that is only compounded if your company operates in multiple regions or participates in a supply chain that collects sales tax, use tax, and exemption certificates. It’s vital that your company adheres to each jurisdiction’s tax requirements and applies the correct treatments.
In recent years, tax authorities have implemented stricter auditing protocols, demanding more granular and up-to-date intercompany transactions. However, these changes have highlighted a deficit in many businesses with poor IFM. Companies reliant on manual tax processes open themselves to noncompliance and increased financial risk. Automated tax management can help finance teams take back control over their intercompany accounting processes.
Tip # 5 | Prioritize systems integration and alignment
IFM entails handling an overwhelming number of intercompany transactions as efficiently as possible. If a business relies on decentralized systems or unintegrated ERPs, inefficiencies arise and trigger reporting setbacks. When finance is bogged down with reconciliations and eliminations, a butterfly effect can be felt across the entire company, ultimately slowing down high-level business decisions.
Investing in integrated and aligned solutions frees up your accounting department to focus on more strategic tasks. Multi-Entity Management embeds directly in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics GP to streamline intercompany transactions, completing the entire process within a single instance.