Technology ExpertSpeak: Financial software helps companies to comply with international standards
Ross Hampton and Theuns Holtshousen, Managing director and Business leader of CaseWare Africa respectively, spoke to AfricaMoney on financial software which helps companies comply with international financial standards and place the company in a better position to attract investors. (Image: Wazna Gunga)
CaseWare Africa has 15,000 users across Africa, consisting of audit and accounting firms, government entities, municipalities as well as large blue chip companies. The company is an undisputed leader when it comes to compliance with the aim of providing world-class products to ensure quality results, increased effectiveness and improved profitability.
Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview with AfricaMoney:
1. Technology is moving rapidly and every business has to move alongside. Can you tell us about the tools and proper software that are a must-have for the financial sector?
CaseWare currently aims at automating compliance, which is key, and Africa is currently adopting international standards and manual tools are making it difficult for companies to comply. Here, CaseWare helps companies by creating efficient tools with all intelligence built in, which will help companies become complaint and produce financial statement in line with standards and regulatory bodies.
By doing that, foreign investors will be attracted to Africa, as they will be able to recognise the format that information is presented in. Thus, by automating this process, we are assisting companies in understanding it better and adopting it, as, in today`s era, it is important to be compliant in order to be successful.
2. How can a company ensure that it is choosing the proper software?
It is key when choosing software to look around as well. Companies want business continuity, thus it important to ensure that the software being implemented will still be available, can be updated and will be supported in the long run, because, the moment you start using a software it is difficult to move to another one, as there is historic data in the system that you want to carry forward year on year.
There are four things that companies need to consider before opting for software. First, you must look for companies which have been around for some time and have the experience and expertise, secondly the provider should assist you in training, moreover, the supplier must provide consultation and implementation assistance, and finally, it must provide support for any queries after adopting the software.
It is to be noted that acquiring software means buying today, but it must be regarded as an investment for the future, and it is important to know from whom you are buying the technology.
3. Regarding cloud technology, are financial companies adopting it easily or are they a bit resistant to change.
I personally find people are very conservative about data, and security is important. The company needs to ensure that it goes to a provider that equips it with the right layers of security and restriction of rights when giving a cloud solution. Figures from our records show that the adoption of the cloud has accelerated with figures having doubled since four months ago. In our client base, we have about 80,000 users in the continent and figures will surely increase further. Companies adopting cloud are normally concerned with sensitivity and security.
They are generally four security parameters you should consider while opting a cloud solution. Firstly, where is data stored, what kind of control is in place to protect the data, what kind of encryption is used, and how the back up is done.
4. Since you have experience in the African continent, how do you view African countries’ pace of adopting new software for its financial industry.
We are underestimating the African market as far as adoption of technologies is concerned. At CaseWare, our customers are becoming ambassadors as they are the early adopters, and for us, it is not providing a product but it is also about educating the continent on adopting these technologies.
Moreover, when technological tools have a positive impact on staff, it will also have a positive effect on clients, higher quality products will be provided and thus we are looking at brand ambassadors to implement this software.
5. At CaseWare, who are your main clients and which country around the global shows the most positive response to the software you provide to the market?
As far as our market is concerned, we cater to corporate clients for financial tools and the public sector for compliance tools and in terms of territories we are looking at English speaking countries and our footprint is as per the picture below:
We work for the Big Four and we have 70% market share in local government reporting, 60% in public entity reporting and, on the corporate side, we have a big global brand name as we help companies in standardising their reporting, aligning it to international standard and meeting the localisation requirements as well. We offer software for different types of clients ranging from small businesses to big companies.
6. Currently do you serve Mauritius clients. What message do you have for financial companies in Mauritius with regard to financial software?
Yes, absolutely, we have customers in Mauritius and are looking for more, with the first priority being to look at existing customers and provide good service. Our strategy is to appoint a party in each country where our customer is present, who will support customers and once we get that partner in place, we will start growing this market.
The message I want to give is that using this software in this beautiful country is probably the basic minimum for an international financial centre, and we are committed to look after these customers and support them and grow them.
7. Finally, is there anything you want to highlight regarding the ACOA conference.
These types of conferences are crucial and we will continue to support these types of conference where participants were able to grasp the relevant insights into technology and innovation in the accounting field. The event saw the cloud topic being discussed and such events act as a platform for disseminating important information.
-By Wazna Gunga