Data integrity: integral to finance, instilled in Aurum

Chloe Hopkins
Chloe Hopkins

Business strategies, financial reports, personalisation and more are all founded upon data. Without access to data, plans can’t be made, and without data integrity, huge decisions risk being misinformed.

Fortunately, although Aurum is known for improving processes, cutting costs and securing compliance, it can also be utilised as the foundation for leveraging and optimising financial data. For finance teams, who must produce reports at multiple time intervals – month end, period end and year end – plus provide insights to key internal and external stakeholders, this is a clear added benefit of working with an entire reconciliation platform rather than simply just one solution.

Just like how Aurum can break down large data sets to deliver granular detail, this blog takes a deep dive into how Aurum plays a key role in attaining data integrity, conducts data manipulation as part of this, and primes finance teams for data manipulation and optimisation.

The importance of ensuring data integrity

As mentioned, data is the cornerstone of modern operations. Working with wrong data can therefore lead to disastrous consequences, something that Public Health England can attest to after failing to realise that they were working the outdated XLS file format for their Excel files during the Autumn of 2020, resulting in thousands of COVID-19 cases being missed.

In a financial context, it is equally important when just one incorrect digit can cause a domino effect of consequences. For instance, auditors will heavily scrutinise erroneous reporting, and business strategies informed by them could see employees, shareholders, and customers pay a hefty price due to wrong decisions being made.

How to ensure data integrity

Given that data integrity is of utmost importance, it is unfortunate that it is regularly under threat due to:

  • Human error
  • Fraud
  • Duplications
  • Data losses
  • and more

However, as a foundational financial control, reconciliation is purposefully designed to highlight any anomalies that would point to data errors regardless of their cause. Manual reconciliation is not a complete solution to this issue. In fact, when conducting reconciliation manually, the above reasons as to why data errors occur are given the opportunity to arise once more. As such, automated reconciliation should always be employed to guarantee that anomalies within data are spotted and crucially flagged for exception management.  

Reconciling via this method means that in a matter of seconds, any data errors which could undermine data integrity are instantly nullified. Plus, in the instance of Aurum, due to its built-in messaging system, entire transcripts of messages regarding exception management are tied to individual transactions, resulting in the creation of further data. Whilst this byproduct of reconciliation might not hold much value to business strategy, it does support auditing thanks to all intel being stored within one platform rather than disparate sources such as Teams or Slack for example.

How to manipulate data to guarantee integrity

With cross-referencing being the main action of the Aurum machine, it is no surprise that it helps ensure data integrity for finance teams. Yet due to our mission being to “empower CFOs and their teams through financial data”, the Aurum platform instigates further actions to guarantee data integrity. After all, data integrity is a foundation to be worked upwards from.

To arrive at a point where data integrity can be assuredly confirmed, reconciliation alone is rarely enough. Instead, exceptions are nearly always present which must be investigated and resolved before complete data integrity is achieved. As a result, at Aurum we have worked with clients to build bespoke reports based on their specific exception management processes to aid them in the final steps of attaining data integrity. These include but are not limited to:

Providing company-wide visibility

When it comes to reconciliation, there is no exception – it applies to every single account. If this were not the case, data integrity would instantly be compromised. However, when firms have a large number of accounts, ensuring that every single one of them is properly reconciled becomes a lot harder, especially when separate people are responsible for different accounts.

With this being a common occurrence amongst our clients, we developed a single report to assist managers. As a result, rather than having to rely on individual investigators to report back to them on what exceptions are outstanding in each account, with a click of a button, managers can gain instant insight into the total amount of exceptions outstanding per account. Plus, each investigator will receive the reports which relate to the accounts that they own, serving as a good reminder for them to complete their exception management.

Outcomes: Managers gain holistic insight into exceptions across all accounts, investigators are reminded of outstanding exceptions, and no exceptions are missed due to human error.  

Totalling count and sum of exceptions across all accounts

Attaining data integrity is integral throughout finance functions. As such, it is crucial that once integrity has been assured, that data can swiftly serve and inform other financial activities. To make this easier for our customers, at Aurum we created an aged items report which is split into four vital sections.

Along with devising information in a way that makes it ready to be passed on to the relevant department, it also further categorises outstanding items into age groups depending on how long they have been outstanding. This report provides a quick and concise method for insights to be sent up the management chain, highlighting where most exceptions exist.

Outcomes: data organised and prepared for specific department areas, reminder of outstanding exceptions to investigate per account, values aggregated to save time and inform leadership.  

Improving exception management efficiency

Every firm has its own degree of tolerance when it comes to variation across balances. However, no matter what that might be, exceptions must always be properly investigated and resolved, this is particularly true at the end of quarters when auditors are bound to be present.

As such, a lot of firms like to make sure that their exceptions are resolved as swiftly as possible, and if that is not possible, definitely within 3 months. To help firms make sure that they meet this target, at Aurum we created a report which will show all outstanding items after 3 months from across all accounts. By regularly pulling such a report, firms can not only track long-term outstanding items, they can also monitor whether or not their initiatives to reduce resolution time are effective.  

Outcomes: Report built on company-defined logic, no time spent searching for outstanding exceptions, no repetition of searching across multiple accounts, and intel on the effectiveness of exception management efforts.

Data integrity – above all else

Although many rightly view data integrity as the foundational property which must be assured before data manipulation and optimisation can take place, in reality, guaranteeing integrity must come above every other data activity. It is integral to ensuring no errors persist, that insights are founded upon accurate data, and ultimately, that businesses operate in a way which is best for them and their auditors.

That’s why at Aurum we go beyond reconciliation to ensure data integrity for every partner that we work with. By creating bespoke reports, data integrity becomes attainable in a way which works best for our clients without producing extra work for them.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can upgrade your reconciliation processes, whilst also guaranteeing data integrity in an efficient manner, book an Aurum demo today.

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