Posted on

Are you ready for one of the biggest accounting changes ever?

 

After discussions for the better part of a decade, the new FASB lease accounting standard (ASC-842) is official. The new lease accounting standard represents one of the largest and most impactful reporting changes to accounting principles in decades, since most companies utilize off-balance sheet financing with operational leases. The standard itself is voluminous (over 400 pages) and digesting it will be a major task for companies, auditors, and accountants. Implementing practical solutions is where the rubber really meets the road.

Is your company ready to meet this challenge?

Situation

The new standard includes leases of all property, plant, and equipment and excludes (1) leases of intangible assets, (2) leases to explore for or use non-regenerative resources, (3) leases of biological assets, (4) leases of inventory, and (5) leases of assets under construction. Overall, the measurement of an operating lease is the most significant difference from previous standards; the lessee will be required to place all operating leases with a duration of 12 months or more on the balance sheet.
For several years prior, the accounting standard-setting body in the United States, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and the international accounting standard-setting body, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), have been working on various convergence projects to achieve a more uniform, worldwide standard for lease accounting.

The new standard becomes effective for public business entities, certain not-for-profits, and certain employee benefit plans for annual periods (including interim periods) beginning after Dec. 15, 2018; and for all other entities, annual periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2019.

Most companies have not implemented a solution to help them become compliant with these requirements; and adding real estate and equipment leases to the balance sheet will be a sizable task.

Business Issue

To start down the road to compliance, businesses need to focus on several key activities:

Data Assessment

The initial step is to understand the size and scope of the lease profile of the company. It is important to understand the classification of the lease type (building, equipment, etc.), but also understand the key characteristics that will drive the lease calculations. These characteristics can be summarized in a table to ensure you have addressed all of the functional requirements and can directly correlate an accounting procedure to meet the requirement.

While there needs to be an initial push to gather this data, most likely, you will update this information throughout the process. The key is to gather data on the most impactful set of leases as quickly as possible.

Accounting Assessment

Next, your company can start the process of applying the new accounting standard to different lease profiles identified in the data assessment. The interpretation and application of the lease accounting standard will require a written auditable procedure in 2019, but during the initial assessment, establishing a framework that can be built upon over the implementation process will be sufficient. Additionally, the initial interpretation does not have to cover every existing lease, but rather just a solid assessment of the key leases will be sufficient to start the implementation of a solution. The outcome of completing the assessment process over a set of key leases will be a deeper understanding and will allow the team to identify individual scenarios that need specific consideration in the process. Overall, establishing the accounting procedures for the company’s leases will continue throughout the implementation process.

Solution Assessment

While you are completing the Data and Accounting Assessments, you will need to identify and engage with vendors on the different solutions available. Many times, high-level requirements, such as cost, functionality, or flexibility, will quickly eliminate some vendors. The key is to get to a short list of vendors that can provide you with a demonstration and proposal immediately following the assessment. Some vendors, like Akili, can support the assessment and be instrumental in defining the solution scope and change requirements. In addition to meeting the basic requirement of your company, the solution should be flexible as changes to the standard emerge over time. Furthermore, it will be important to understand and establish who will be making and implementing those changes. Is it the vendor, your IT department, or is the solution managed by the business team? All of these are key criteria in choosing a solution and implementation partner.

Lease Accounting by Akili

Akili has developed a lease accounting model based on the Anaplan Platform. Anaplan’s powerful modeling and calculation engine helps managers quickly evaluate lease accounting results. Anaplan’s platform boasts the world’s most powerful and flexible modeling and calculation engine, called Hyperblock™. This in-memory engine enables the creation of detailed models that utilize all your data, down to the transactional level, for real-time impactful business execution. Anaplan allows models to be built to any level of granularity with as many dimensions as your business requires. This allows a company to visualize the lease accounting data by legal entity, by lessor, or other management hierarchy.

Anaplan was built from day one as a cloud platform combining cutting-edge security, in-memory data management, and massive scalability. Business users can use familiar business syntax, drag-and-drop hierarchies, and built-in logic for time, versions, and scenarios. With Anaplan, there are no technical barriers between you and business insights, and requires no reliance on IT for business rules adjustments, model creation, or changes. The Anaplan platform gives you the power and flexibility to plan for any area of your business, enabling collaborative decision-making to drive improved business performance across the organization.

Akili’s Lease Accounting solution on the Anaplan platform focuses on the core requirements required to be compliant with the lease accounting standard.  The requirements of the solution are detailed below:

Lease Compliance

  • Consolidate lease information
  • Calculate lease payment schedule
  • Lease contract classification
  • Lease Accounting
    • Lease data management
    • Calculate lease accounting entries
    • Monthly lease reconciliation
  • Lease Analytics & Reporting
    • Business disclosure reporting
    • Business management reporting
    • Lease administration analytics
  • Lease Planning
    • Lease planning simulations
    • Lease budgeting solution
    • Connected planning with FP&A

 

Akili’s Lease Accounting cloud-based solution running on the Anaplan platform will provide a robust set of functionalities, the flexibility to update the model by business subject matter experts, and be at a reasonable cost. To learn more about Akili and the Lease Accounting Solution, please go to Akili.com or email us at info@akili.com.

 

References

Robert Singer, A. P. (2017, August 23). Accounting for Leases Under the New Standard, Part 1 – The CPA Journal. Retrieved from CPA Journal: Accounting for Leases Under the New Standard, Part 1 – The CPA Journal

Stephen McKinney, T. K. (2016). An Executive Summary of the FASB’s New Lease Accounting Standard. Deloitte Development LLC.

Posted on

My First 90 Days at Akili: Dan Vollmer

 

By Dan Vollmer | Sr. Sales Executive

I first heard of Akili through a few employees that I’ve been happy to call friends for almost 20 years. Even before I really knew about Akili, the passion and joy the employees shared with me about their work, colleagues, and clients were apparent. So when I was approached with the opportunity to support Akili clients and expand the Akili brand to the east coast, I knew I had to learn more about this company that has multiple awards as “one of the best companies to work for in Texas.”

When I interviewed with our CEO, the executive team, and employees, the reoccurring theme was a cohesive culture. It emphasized the importance of a good work/life balance, and how it positively affects an individual’s and company’s performance. As a remote employee in Atlanta, I do not get to enjoy the office spoils every week like happy hours, ping-pong tournaments, hoverboard races, etc. And that’s OK. I am still able to have a sense of inclusiveness through active message boards, company meetings, and even being flown out for a number of company events each year.

An organization’s culture is crucial in today’s connected economy, but unfortunately, many organizations lose sight of their core values for the better of a few, not the many.

But not Akili.

In my opinion, culture is what makes Akili a unique place to work and a great company to do business with. I continue to see a presence of the 12 core values of which Akili was founded on. Not every company or employee is perfect all the time, but I continue to see every employee hold each other accountable, work with integrity, and deliver great results to our clients, while having fun along the way.

I am overly impressed by the client reference and retention rate, which confirms to me the quality of work our team consistently provides.

Looking forward, I am most excited about my impact on Akili’s growth on the east coast. My mission is to ensure current east coast client successes as well as support new clients in obtaining their business planning goals. In 5 to 10 years, I want to look back at this post about my first 90 days at Akili and not only see that I have accomplished these goals, but also that each new employee feels the same pride and passion as we do today!

Posted on

Employee Spotlight: Meet Sean Granfield

 

As a fairly new member to fatherhood, a foodie, and a leader of the sales and marketing team at Akili, Sean Granfield has all the right reasons to be the go-getter he proves to be. This week, we pulled him aside from the office hustle for a chance to learn more about his role and what keeps him hungry.

What’s your role at Akili and the most satisfying aspect about it?

My role at Akili is Vice President of Sales and Marketing – developing and driving our go-to-market strategy through our team of three account executives, an inside sales rep and a marketing coordinator.

I really enjoy the creative freedom Akili provides around the overall development of our strategy, content, and brand image within our target markets. There’s nothing more exciting and satisfying than working with our team to create a unique and compelling strategy for our company and seeing the efforts being executed across our channels and people!

How did you become interested in your line of work?

I’ve always loved the idea of creating something. That passion wasn’t always specific to the business world however, when I finished school at the University of Oklahoma on the back end of the recession, the opportunities I found in front of me were in the startup space, mainly in software. I quickly found myself loving the ability to make a tangible impact. I was also very lucky in terms of the environment around me at the time: smartphones were fairly new, cloud technology was enabling powerful ideas to grow from exciting new sources, and I was fortunate enough to experience it all at the ground level. Ultimately, that was the hook that sent me down the path of selling software and cloud technology.

What about Akili made you decide to join?

It was always about the people for me. Before I came on board, I was great friends with an employee who consistently raved about the people, culture and day-to-day office environment. Once I was provided the opportunity to interview with the broader team, I knew it was a place I would be comfortable at, while still being challenged to grow and excel. Further, when you’re in sales, and services sales at that, you’re essentially selling your people. Having confidence in the team behind you is absolutely critical to the success of a sales person or leader, and I’ve never once questioned our ability to deliver!

What’s a memory that stood out to you at Akili?

There are truly too many to list, but I’ll refer back to something early on: I came on board in April of 2015, only weeks before one of our technology partner’s big annual event. Naturally, I was a bit intimidated by the runway. I had to first understand who Akili was, and then our partnership, in a way that I could confidently represent Akili and hold substantive conversations. With that as the backdrop, the trip ended up being one that sticks in my memory more than almost any other for the level of support I felt from our team. I never once felt they were questioning my ability or asking too much of me at the same time. They totally endorsed my way of interacting with our partners and clients, while providing valuable guidance. It’s a time and event that I will always remember as the experience where I became an Akilian. 🙂

In your opinion, what makes Akili different?

It’s really hard to not go back to our people, which is absolutely a key differentiator, but something else that comes to mind is the trust the leadership places in every single employee at Akili. There’s no micromanaging, ideas are welcomed (and encouraged), and you never have to question yourself when you feel your opinion needs to be heard. It’s an incredibly empowering feeling which I believe brings the best out of everyone.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Traveling, eating exciting food, cooking, and spending time with my family. Most of all though, it’s being with our 8-month-old son. It may sound cheesy, but there’s nothing I’d rather do than be with him all day, every day!

What keeps you motivated?

It’s a long list. Providing for my family, driving success for our company, supporting my team, being the best partner to our technology partners – all of these keep me motivated. Ultimately though, trying to get absolutely everything I can out of myself makes all the other areas achievable – that’s my underlying motivation!

Tell us about some of the greatest advice you’ve ever received.

As I continue my professional growth, there’s something simple my dad always told me that stands out more than ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest, fastest, strongest (name the adjective). What matters most is your willingness to prepare more than your competition or even your colleagues. He was quite successful in his own right and if you were to ask him today about what drove that success, he would without a doubt say his preparation!

Anything else you’d like everyone to know?

In the context of an employee spotlight blog and looking at the element of being an employee, I would encourage everyone to find a professional home where your leadership is truly invested in you as a person, not just a headcount. There is nothing more powerful in my estimation than having a person (or persons) who want you to succeed just as much as you do, in and out of the office!

Posted on

3 Steps to an Agile Business, in Good Times and in Bad

Written by Alan Boyer, VP of Professional Services, Akili Inc.

When you’re in a period of hypergrowth, you get to say “yes” to everything. Can I hire new people? Yes. Can we buy some cool new tech? Yes. Can we throw a party for our employees? Yes!

But with all the excitement of rapid growth, efficiency often takes a back seat. Most companies focus almost exclusively on revenue growth and market share and overlook the importance of operational excellence. When the good times come to an end (and in most cases, they invariably do), they’re left reworking their costs — sometimes for the first time.

The Texas oil industry is currently tackling this challenge. From about 2005 until 2014, upstream producers in the U.S. were in a land grab. If you didn’t acquire assets, you could be shut out. And if you didn’t secure these assets by drilling and producing, you could either lose them or pay a substantial price to keep them. Money was flowing freely, and efficiency was not a concern.

But in the past year, 65,000 Texas oil and gas workers have been let go. The World Bank claims that, even at $60 per barrel, two-thirds of future oil reserves could be uneconomical. In February, the price per barrel fell below $27. So while the rest of the country celebrates lower prices at the pump, the oil industry needs more sustainable practices to thrive in the future.

Creating efficiencies often require investment, and it’s hard to get any expense approved when cash is at a premium. People are typically first or second in terms of cost, so businesses regrettably turn to layoffs. Those cuts are by numbers, such as 10 percent of each department or 5 people from each area. However, sometimes the people who have greater knowledge of your operations are let go, which can have the opposite effect on your business.

The good news is efficiency doesn’t have to wait until the other shoe drops. The following three strategies can streamline your financial and operational processes to increase return on investment — without trimming your workforce.

  1. Invest early. If your company is doing well, that is the time to start investing. This will prepare you for growth andunexpected downturns. My team recently spoke to a company that is in growth mode, but its market is in a bit of turmoil. The company’s management team and board are assessing the business, and while their current infrastructure has no significant issues, they know they can’t scale the business without continuing to hire people. They are looking at investing now in order to create an infrastructure that will allow them to grow efficiently when the market creates new opportunities.Another company we’ve worked with revamped its systems infrastructure just before the oil price collapse. The business is struggling significantly, but its transaction volumes and operational support remain constant. Although it now operates with one-third of its original workforce, the company can continue to run because of the efficiencies gained from the system revamp.
  2. Train your workforce. Efficiency takes into account people, processes, and technology, and you need all three to improve operations. New tech appears every day, and some companies simply throw technology at a problem in their excitement. But if you don’t prepare your people to use it, the solution won’t be fully used or will fail completely.
  3. Pay attention to process and productivity. Sometimes companies implement new technology while holding on to old processes. The point of new tools is to change the way a team works. You need to understand how productivity and processes work in your team to make your cost-cutting efforts successful. Find the correct metrics to measure productivity for your business. If you can measure it, you can start to change it. And if you change productivity, you will reduce costs.

As you study productivity, look for critical business processes that use Excel. It’s probably the most prolific business tool in the world, but overuse of Excel usually indicates serious problems in systems support. Pinpoint where this is happening, why, and how to fix it to reduce inefficiencies, errors, and risks in your business.

A sudden drop in profits can happen in any industry or company. If your business is thriving, take some time out from celebrating your profits and think about efficiencies as you grow. If you’re already in crisis, try to find ways to apply these strategies. You may be able to change the course of your business and save those jobs on the line.

Posted on

Time Is Money — How to Speed Up the Financial Closing Process

A Business 2 Community article written by Alan Boyer, VP of Professional Services, Akili Inc.

It takes an average of eight days for an organization to complete the quarterly financial closing process, a half-day longer than just nine years ago. However, a speedy, but efficient, close helps management understand its organization’s financial health and make important decisions in a timely manner.

Accurate financial statements are essential for all organizations, and it is up to management to create processes that ensure accurate and timely reporting. Time is money, and shortening the closing process brings big advantages.

Why an Early Closing Matters

A survey by SAP and Deloitte indicates that company leaders want to close their financials much faster than average. The reasons varied, but most revolved around time — 44 percent wanted more time for analysis and auditing before financial statements were published; 31 percent wanted to reduce time and costs associated with closing; and, 13 percent wanted to push management and financial information out as quickly as possible.

Companies often make better decisions during a shorter closing process. When financial statements are created in a timely manner, they can be used to build forecasts and accelerate innovation. An early close also makes the accounting team more analysis-driven, rather than holding them in a scorekeeper role. And it reduces workload and creates more effective transaction processing.

Barriers to an Early Close

Company executives blame slower financial closing times on a variety of factors. According to the same survey, 40 percent of executives say it’s because of internal levels of review; 35 percent say it’s a growing need to identify and consolidate more detail for financial statements; and, 20 percent say it’s because more time is needed to check for errors.

Financial analysts only spend about 23 percent of their time on value-added analysis to the business. Speeding up the closing process helps analysts and others better utilize their time.

Efficiency and accuracy are essential in a closing, and many companies want to overcome these barriers and speed up their closings. The following three steps can increase the time, accuracy, and efficiency of a financial closing.

  1. Use an Automated Process

Too many manual steps in a closing can slow down the process. Using an automated system is essential for speediness. Forty-three percent of the companies that complete their monthly close in four or fewer days use an automated process. Additionally, 27 percent use some automated processes and 16 percent use little automation or none.

A highly automated system allows companies to close more than three days earlier than those not using automation. A consolidation software or enterprise resource planning system used to manage a close makes companies twice as satisfied as those using desktop spreadsheets as their primary tool for the closing process.

  1. Make It a Company Priority

Making a speedy closing process a top priority for the company will ensure that everyone involved has this in mind as they perform their daily tasks. Planning for a fast closing will also make the company run more efficiently.

When companies establish a clear program to reduce a closing timeframe, with management buy-in, they accomplish their goal 77 percent of the time, according to SAP and Deloitte. A clearly stated objective to close more quickly usually results in meeting that goal.

  1. Conduct a Post-Close Review

Assessing internal processes during the closing process, and afterward, identifies problems and areas that need improvement to speed up the close time. The review can also identify any overlapping of duties or redundancies in the process, which will create efficiencies within the company and potentially save money.

Automation, making speed a priority, and identifying ways to reduce the time associated with financial closings are ways companies can eliminate barriers to timely closings. Time is money, and these solutions promote speed, leading to potential cost savings, efficiencies, and better financial decisions in the long run.

Posted on

Business is now done online

Dominos stock is up 45% this year in an intensely competitive business. You can order Dominos pizza with an emoji on Twitter or a Facebook messenger bot. They are experimenting delivering pizzas by drones – soon, you will be able to get them delivered to you in a park!

Ripple effect examples include how Air B&B is affecting hotels. How Uber has affected taxis, Ford motor company, rental car companies, and even insurance companies. Ford has just announced that it is going down dual track– The foundation as a car manufacturer and a new path as a transportation services provider – self driving cars, electric cars and ride sharing services.

Upstarts have skyrocketed in profitability because of technology creating instant access to their products and services. Think Uber, AirBnB, Dollar Shave club, BAI, Jet.com, Blue Nile, Zillow, We work, Zocdoc

Survival of the incumbents like Amazon, Home Depot, Esurance, Netflix has only been possible from their ability to quickly pivot and invest in the newest and best modifications they can make to streamline and improve their business practices.

We are all watching the elephant in the room – Walmart to see if they can shift/pivot and continue to compete with companies that are more nimble and innovative and ahead in the shared economy game.

A great example of a winning company is Amazon. Famous losers who failed to adapt when disruption was looming include Blackberry, Blockbuster, Borders/Barnes and Nobles. Brick and mortar retail, Realtors, Travel agents, etc. are all on the verge of becoming obsolete unless they can rethink and recapture their customers through the value of their core competencies that can’t be found somewhere else faster or cheaper.

The Winning Upstarts

The Winning Incumbents

Posted on

Businesses are now run on-demand

It is a brave new world!

We are living in an online, on demand, shared economy of pay as you go, subscription based shared services with limited or no commitments required. It makes everything move extremely fast with unbelievable flexibility – making it a daily challenge just to keep up!

This is not a limited trend or passing fad. It affects every city, demographic, industry and line of business. Think about the shared resources you tap into on a daily basis – utilities like electricity, gas, and water resources, delivered via methods you simply plug into or subscribe to. Cable, data, apps, music, streaming media of all sorts. Goods and services too – Uber, Blue Apron, Stitch Fix, Dollar Shave Club.

Changes to the goods and services purchasing habits in our economy is transforming the competitive business landscape. Disruption is hitting from all sides and those unprepared to re-think, shift directions, rebuild will soon be obsolete if they aren’t already!

Posted on

We live in a shared economy

“May you live in interesting times” – an ancient Chinese proverb

You may ask what has happened to our economy? How did we get here? And the resounding answer is Technology! The basic evolution that has occurred has cycled from Mainframe à to Client Server à to the Internet à the Cloud.

To succeed and thrive in these times means you have to be nimble, agile, able to pivot very quickly as technologies change the behavior patterns of your customers.