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Automated Financial Statements: Benefits & Use Cases

Executive generating automated financial statements
Industry

Working in the finance industry requires keen attention to detail. Although many individuals display this quality, you cannot depend on them to always get it right. Certain things can affect their accuracy and lead to expensive errors. This is why automated financial statements are an investment many finance industry players are committing to. But it is more than just avoidance of errors, there are more reasons why the industry is embracing automation. Here are some of them.

Decision Making is Based on Updated Data

The finance industry depends on financial reports to make vital decisions and forecasts. Usually, these reports need extensive research and auditing to present the right figures and facts. Automating this process, however, can make the process quick and painless. Financial reporting automation tools link to several sources of financial data and with a simple command or click, the right data is pulled from particular sources to populate financial reports.

This information is updated and accurate so the decisions made based on such data are indeed the best. The great thing about this is that you don’t need so many people running around searching files and spending sleepless nights trying to compile such basic financial statements like a balance sheet. Everything can be availed in a matter of minutes at the click of a button. This gives accounts departments more time to focus on other core issues. The CFO also can easily refer to important financial reports as and when they need to and at times they do not have to give advance notice to accounts to have the document prepared.

Enables Accurate Tax Assessment

One of the challenges faced by financial institutions is collecting accurate data for tax assessment. Sometimes receipts may be misplaced and certain deductible expenses may not be recorded. The entire process of putting together all the necessary documents for tax assessment may take hours or even days and most of this work involves going through stacks of paper and then arranging the records according to dates.

All this can be done in a much simpler way when these institutions use financial reporting software. With an automated document process, everything gets recorded by technology so finding the records is a quick process and the data is entered into a standard document according to the template set. There is usually no risk of omission and the information provided can be trusted both by the institution and the taxman. What would have been a tiresome project becomes very easy when automation is part of the process.

Bias-Free Underwriting

It is hard for humans to be completely free of bias. When dealing with underwriting documents, this can be a problem. The problem can however be solved by using automated financial statement analysis. It is much easier to follow the guidelines for determining whether an applicant is deserving of a loan or if their insurance claim is valid if you automate the document approval process. These systems will stick to the criteria for approval and that leads to transparent approval processes and the institution will gain more since only eligible applicants will be approved.

Documents can be Approved Much Faster Using E-Signatures

For insurance companies, this is one of the biggest benefits. A lot of time and money is usually spent on getting the signatures of customers as well as authorizing officers. With automation software, however, that is not the case. Electronic signatures make it possible for a new policyholder to pen their signature from anywhere as long as they have access to the document. The policy agreement can be emailed to the customer and they can append their signature to it without having to be physically present at the insurance company. The same can be done for signatures of authorizing officials. This cuts down the time spent attending to a single client.

This means insurance companies can sign up more clients and give them a seamless experience. In the long run, it is a win for both the organization and its clients and there’s even more to gain from automating financial documents.

Reduced Risk of Fraud

Automated financial statements are created using data from a trusted source. It is very hard for this data to be compromised either intentionally or due to human error. The automation software comes with features that ensure data stored is only accessed by authorized persons and even when such people access the data and make changes, it is all recorded and notifications can be sent whenever sensitive data has been edited. In financial institutions where fraud is a constant threat, automation offers the reassurance of added safety against this and means less time is spent investigating fraud. The reputation of the organization also remains intact the more it can avoid cases of fraud. Banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms, and others find this an effective advantage of automation.

A Financial Reporting System Gives Clearer Insight

Financial advisers are usually looking for deeper insights into the figures. This may take hours to read if you have to manually find patterns within the data. That doesn’t have to be the case when you use a financial reporting system. These can quickly identify patterns and provide tabulated data to enable quicker financial decisions. With access to several datasources, the system will provide better insight than you might be able to collect even with the smartest financial wizards. This means that smart brains can be put to use in the process of making financial decisions based on the insight provided by the automated documents.

Automated financial statements give better visibility of the processes within the industry. It builds trust between the organization and customers as well as internally. The company will eventually recover much more than what it invested in the technology as it considerably reduces the cost of doing business. Many employees feel that this kind of technology improves their productivity and this makes them motivated and satisfied with their employment. Everyone can be happy with the introduction of automated document solutions in financial institutions.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

Written by:_
Genesis Abel
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