Infor SunSystems Bank Reconciliation a good investment for Aegon.
Part of the Aegon Group, Ireland manages €4 billion of funds for over 19,000 investors. The organisation has a proven track record for delivering innovative financial solutions, including the manufacture and production of variable annuity propositions for the UK, Germany and France, as well as managing a wealth management offshore bond portfolio and European portability option.
AEGON had looked at developing an in-house solution for bank reconciliation, but decided that this was financially inefficient. Any third party solution needed to be fully integration with its core finance platform, Infor SunSystems.
AEGON had been using MS Excel-based reconciliation process and it was difficult to manage its large volume of transactions. AEGON also wanted to improve its visibility of its cash position in real-time, with a full audit trail.
Infor SunSystems™ Bank Reconciliation, from authors, Professional Advantage, was identified by Aegon as the best way to implement a bank reconciliation process that would allow better managed workflow, including handling exceptions, taking advantage of automatic or manual matching, while also being able to easily create necessary ledger transactions from bank statement entries.
Aegon Ireland plc is a leading provider of offshore financial solutions since 2002, employing more than 200 people in their IFSC office. They are committed to developing innovative life insurance products and services, to suit their clients' needs. Nick Kennedy, Finance Operations Supervisor, explains how important Infor SunSystems Bank Reconciliation from Professional Advantage is proving to his operation.
Aegon Ireland had started looking for a way to do bank reconciliation better in late 2009. At that time, such work was still being done mainly in MS Excel, he recalls - a process that was causing a number of issues. "Data was incorrectly matched or information could get deleted," he says. "Then we were left with lots of old outstanding items on the 'bank rec' because a lot of time was spent getting the information into the reconciliation."
All in all, everything was manual and had become something of a challenge, he confirms. Another factor was the sheer number of transactions that need to be accurately processed; with four or five hundred a day (and at the end of each quarter typically twice as many), scalability was also important in any selected solution. Finally, due to the complex nature of Aegon's business - where money from clients and agents needs to be properly reconciled against the correct account - any new system had to be functionally rich too. Integration with SunSystems: a critical consideration Initially, to address these issues Aegon had looked at developing an in-house system, but had quickly determined that there would have been considerable extra expense involved in getting the system to link to its core financial engine, Infor SunSystems.
And after reviewing other options, Bank Reconciliation's ability to work automatically with SunSystems was a key factor in the team at Aegon deciding to implement the solution. So how does Bank Reconciliation meet the needs of Aegon? The software works by importing and reconciling electronic statements associated with multiple bank accounts using a set of user-defined matching criteria. Using Bank Reconciliation, a highly automated process now allows Kennedy and his team to easily identify, track and resolve non-reconciled items at a glance - even across multiple accounts.
For Kennedy, "We just go into our online banking system each morning and download one big statement which includes all the bank accounts, then upload it into the bank reconciliation system. The system then performs all the auto-matching." Aegon has between 20 to 25 bank accounts to deal with each day. The main benefit of such automation is to deliver greater control over cash - in particular, a highly time-specific, accurate view of its holdings at any one time.
"While we were always sure of our cash position, we were occasionally left with odd unreconciled transactions. Now, the reconciliation is completed every day." This means that Aegon benefits from a much more transparent process. The reconciliation process has also proven very straightforward for the staff - and much more accurate compared to the older Excel-based approach. In particular, the software's auto-match feature to reconcile transactions leaves a very low number of transactions that need to be handled manually. "With one team member uploading all the bank statements, when all the automatching is done we are left with very few transactions and we find it very simple to manage."
Support and training
If the functionality is matching Aegon's needs, what about the training and support? Aegon's business partner, Touchstone, provides support- and Kennedy says he is more than happy with the provided level of service. "I think we had to contact them once when the bank statement wouldn't load and they were very helpful." Kennedy also received training he finds useful in defining the matching rules, which he is now able to tweak without Touchstone's direct assistance.
Apart from the improvements in internal efficiency, the company says a clear area of improvement thanks to working with Bank Reconciliation is a massively strengthened audit trail. According to Kennedy, "This is a system where it's very difficult to get it wrong. We can easily show our auditors an aged analysis of all the transactions, which is very much preferred to the older MS Excel based approach."
Other improvements, says Kennedy include savings around minimised errors, and the ability to search for matched transactions. All of which, he confirms, was so much harder prior to the introduction of Bank Reconciliation. As he sums it up, "Moving from our previous reconciliation process to Bank Reconciliation has been a smooth transition".