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Breaking down reconciliation: types, processes, challenges

by ReconArt

ReconArt

When most people hear “reconciliation” they usually think of the direct meaning of the word i.e. “to bring together again” or “to make friendly again”. Even when you open a dictionary, the first explanation is “to find a way in which two situations or beliefs that are opposed to each other can agree and exist together“. Indeed, this is the initial meaning that originates from mid-14c. Some half a century later, the word is already used also for “making consistent” and these two notions cover the wide understanding about reconciliation.

However, mention “reconciliation” to someone in finance, and it would evoke a completely different picture and flow of thoughts. Spreadsheets, financial statements, accounts, balances, general ledger, exceptions, rows and rows of data will immediately pop up and replace any other interpretations. No wonder, as reconciliation in Finance is a whole different world to care and worry about.

So what is reconciliation in the world of F&A?

This is the process of comparing different sets of data in order to check and confirm that they have the same totals or pair in a specific, predefined way. In other words, the process ensures that records from two or more sources are correct, comparable, matching. This reassures the validity of the transactions and the accuracy of the company records. When reconciliation is performed, balances are confirmed for separate accounts and further transferred to the General Ledger. If discrepancies are found, these are noted and investigated. Reconciliation can be done daily or at period end but should be always consistent in order to produce reliable results.
Whether the definition sounds clear or not, the best way to understand reconciliation is by taking a closer look at what is really reconciled. The most typical types of reconciliation provide good examples of how companies actually do it and why. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.

What is account reconciliation?

Account reconciliation is where it all starts from and nearly all other types of reconciliation refer to it in some way. This is a process of verifying that account balances are correct by comparing two sets of records at the end of a particular accounting period. Discrepancies are identified and adjustments made to the account as required in order to report the correct values in the General Ledger.

What is bank reconciliation?

Bank reconciliation (or bank statement reconciliation) is the process of matching the transactional data coming from a bank statement with the relevant internal company data (coming from the cash account). The aim is to verify that each transaction in the bank statement is consistent and comparable to the internal records as presented in the company’s accounts. This process can get very complicated because of the difference in time when a particular transaction is recorded in the bank and in the company. Often adjustments are needed. Other complications can arise from differences in currencies and data formats, as well as potentially huge transaction volumes.

What is credit card reconciliation?

The process is very similar to bank reconciliation and carries much of its challenges, but with an additional twist. It refers to matching transactions in a credit card statement with an associated transaction within various internal financial records. Very often there are multiple steps involved (e.g. match card statement to POS, and then aggregate results to the bank). It is usually the volumes and the variety of sources that cumbers the process and causes anxiety among accountants and financial controllers.

What is positions reconciliation?

Positions reconciliation is the process of verifying that a company is holding the same number of securities that a counterparty states they are holding for that company. The balances of the two sources are reconciled in order to make the verification. This is also known as Holding Positions or Balance of Holdings. A main challenge in this activity is usually the lack of universal security identification. A variety of security IDs depending on geography, stock exchange, and type of instrument makes the comparisons between two or more sources very difficult and time consuming.

What is custodial accounts reconciliation?

Reconciling of each custodial account (i.e. P&I and T&I) means matching amounts paid and received on instruments held electronically with custodians to any internal statement. It is a process done regularly by banks to verify the accurate reporting of any operation with financial instruments. Again, a number of complications arise constantly starting from the increased trade volume and the various custodian banks and sub-custodians to be handled. Moreover, this is an area heavy with administrative requirements and regulations.

What is POS (Point of Sale)/Merchant/Gateway reconciliation?

This type of reconciliation is done to confirm a company’s internal records correspond to what is being recorded by the POS, Merchant, or Gateway system. In addition to ensuring that internal records are correct, these reconciliations also provide evidence that customer orders and payments are recorded correctly. Again, the main challenges come from the multiple systems that process the sales information (for example from online sales vs physical locations) and the different file and data formats used by each source.

What is balance sheet reconciliation?

Balance sheet reconciliation and attestation is probably the most important part of the period-end close for a company, especially those that are public, multi-national, or in heavily-regulated industries. It consists of confirming the accuracy and integrity of all key account trial balances by explaining each balance and if required, substantiating it with additional entries, document attachments, and explanation notes. Often times, there are sub-ledgers involved (containing a sub-set of transactions that explain the trial balance) which may be available in completely different data formats. The whole process can get very painful with multiple sources of data, hundreds or thousands of accounts, and dozens of people with interdependent tasks coming into play. Usually this is accompanied by time pressure and the need of full consistency and auditability of the records and operations performed, as the balance sheet reconciliation of public companies is subject to government regulations.

What is suspense account reconciliation?

A suspense account is an account that supports the reconciliation process. It is used to temporary store transactions that need further investigation before they can be classified correctly in the corresponding account in the GL. Suspense accounts are useful as repositories where transactions can be posted in the books as quickly as they occur but can remain there until sufficient information is available to confirm the correct further destination of the record. Ideally, suspense accounts should be cleared as quickly as possible by reviewing each individual transaction. Just like all other accounts, the suspense account needs to be reconciled at the end of each accounting period and if not balanced, the discrepancy requires further investigation.

This may all sound complicated, unnecessary or bothersome but actually reconciliation is a natural process that takes place in every company and in any industry. It used to be time-consuming and error-prone but this has changed tremendously in the last decade. Now, there are specialized tools that handle reconciliations quickly and easily, and moreover, automatically, leaving nothing more to the manual effort but the exceptions investigation. One such tool is ReconArt, a modern, flexible, web-based and rich in functionality software that is directed towards the business user. By using such a tool all reconciliation needs are covered and it is no more a pain to do the matching but an efficient process to support compliance, auditability and cost optimization.

After all, from the Latin “reconciliare” (bring together) to the modern “reconcile”, if something is reconciled, this means it has been settled. No matter if we are talking about good family relations or cleared bank transactions.

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Santa Needs Reconciliation Software, Too

by ReconArt

ReconArt

“He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice.
He’s gonna find out who’s been naughty or nice…”
 

Christmas is coming again – a busy period for Santa Claus.

Have you ever considered the enormous effort Santa is facing here? And we are not just talking about moving around with the speed of light. NASA will be tracking his sleigh dashing through the snowy sky.

There’s another side of the story.

Every year Santa has the important task to make a list of every single child in the world. According to World Bank statistics, the global population aged below 15 is currently approaching 2 billion. That means a heap of names and birth dates entries to make.

Then he has to gather or update his address book in order to accurately deliver the desired present to its recipient. Let’s assume he is granted an unlimited access to public records and can compile this list. Moreover, Santa diligently scrutinizes who’s been naughty and nice throughout the year and adds another column in the table.

Every December, the good old man receives millions of letters with Christmas present wishes. With the help of his dedicated assistants – the elves – he has to process them all. Different languages, different formats, various mediums. The toy inventory list can be endless, too.

The list of the toys to be manufactured is then forwarded to the North Pole workshops. As soon as the toys are ready, all beautifully wrapped and labelled, they are dispatched from the Arctic warehouse to be loaded on the reindeer sleigh.

At this point, Christmas Eve sets in and Santa sets off to distribute the precious load and bring happiness to children around the planet. He has to make sure every single child is visited and the right package is placed under the decorated Christmas tree.

Having said all this, we all wonder – how does Santa manage to pull off this daunting assignment? His job is critical – there is no tolerance for failure or errors. He brings hope and joy and his performance must be impeccable within unimaginably tight deadlines. How does he manage to keep track of the progress and stay on top of the workflow?

Just think – billions of children, their exact location, their behavior history, their present preferences, the toy manufacturing orders, the records of successful receipt. Millions and millions of lines of data to be matched and reconciled. No wonder that Santa, as mighty as he can be, has always been completely exhausted by December 25th every year, for centuries…

It does not have to be that way. Now Santa can finally automate this process. A cloud software solution (he would appreciate that) would enable him to access the system from every corner of the world, in real time. Data can be sourced, uploaded, matched and reconciled without the typical haste and hassle, eliminating the possibility of manual errors. No more scribbling and ticking out on a paper scrolls. It is 2018 going on 2019 after all! At the end of the silent, holy night it would be all peace and joy on earth…

ReconArt – zero compromise with the Christmas spirit!

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Top reconciliation terms & definitions – beginners’ guide

by ReconArt

ReconArt

In a world of infinitely deepening specialization, terminology develops in pace with evolution of technologies and inevitably requires special attention. One needs to familiarize himself with the modern industry slang first, in order to get a meaningful insight into the professional field about to be examined. The finance & accounting business is no exception. New vocabulary is introduced continually to reflect process innovations that come to life. Professionals certainly need to keep up to speed with the most recent developments, but the first step is catching up on the terminology.

Here are the most frequently used phrases in the blooming reconciliation software space. You will notice it’s common to come across familiar words in unusual combinations. Often terminology is tied to the software platform employed by a respective company and varies from system to system, although the processes referred to are essentially identical for all companies. At ReconArt we know that words convey ideas, and ideas spark innovations, so let’s develop a baseline for key terminology and basic understanding:

1. Transaction Matching – Comparing transactions from different data sources and bundling them together based on predefined criteria. The primary objective is to identify transaction discrepancy or to discard the possibility thereof. Ticking them out as related to each other means that the internal record and the counterpart record of the same logical event are in agreement. That is often done manually or in a spreadsheet framework which is time-consuming and likely to produce errors. ReconArt™ features a state-of-the-art matching engine with wide ranging capabilities to automate fast, reliable, rule-based sorting out of millions of transactions. Potential inconsistencies are classified accordingly allowing users to focus on their further investigation and resolution.

2. Outstanding Items – These are unauthorized or erroneous transactions or unsettled items which have not found their rightful match yet. Identified excessive variance between two matched items could also be the case. These types of situations are important. Records that failed to be matched based on the listed rules could possibly expose fraudulent or neglectful activities. It might also indicate a benign occurrence such as a delay in the booking of the payment for a certain open invoice. Keeping a good inventory of outstanding items, their origins, their expiration period, their urgency, as well as their destination once a resolution has been found – it is an essential part of the robust reconciliation process.

3. Exception Management – A set of measures to organize the handling of outstanding transactions (exceptions) based on their origin or impact. Reconciliation tools, and ReconArt™ in particular, enable items to be addressed as single exceptions or managed as groups of similar type of transactions. The resolution of exceptions must be accompanied by a granular audit trail in order to justify its legitimacy following a diligent investigation.

4. Transaction aging – Understanding how transactions flow and settle over time is important. Transaction age and status are key components in this understanding. Modern reconciliation solutions should provide a capability that allows calculation of the transaction age depending on a configurable formula and set determinants – origination date, resolution date, current date, or the period end date. An outstanding transaction which dates back past accounting periods should be red-flagged, in order to be monitored and properly investigated prior to resolution.

5. Breaks – Breaks are exceptions or outstanding items resulting from comparison between broker data and internal accounting data. Breaks are encountered in position reconciliation, too, where the comparable balances originate from more than two independent sources.

6. Certification – The certification of accounts is a Balance Sheet or Financial Close related process. It comprises a set of procedures executed by users with designated certification roles. At the final tally, the line items of two balances pertaining to the same reporting period have to be compared and agree with each other to be duly substantiated. With ReconArt™, adherence to certification policy is guaranteed with documentation of applicable outstanding items, explanatory notes, and any supporting documentation attached.

7. Workflow – One of the great features of reconciliation tools is their ability to facilitate team collaboration. Configurable workflows arrange user tasks in line with predefined principles, schedule, access levels, approval hierarchy and target outcomes. For instance, the certification procedures checklist within the ReconArt™ is automatically distributed among the authorized users, thus prompting them to take action in compliance with financial regulations. Period-end close campaigns also run on a sequence of recurring action items. ReconArt™ provides templates for their completion in a timely manner and with strict separation of duties.

8. Audit Trail –ReconArt™ maintains a fully transparent record of activities allowing transaction detail drill down with exquisite granularity. Manual and tech-challenged approaches to reconciliation do not provide the level of transparency and detail needed to maintain a proper audit trail. With ReconArt™ every single operation from source to resolution, every user involved, every related accounting record are duly mapped, well visible and accounted for. This transparent set-up is particularly convenient in times of audits, when solid evidence for process consistency and detail must be produced swiftly.

9. Variance Analysis – Variance analysis concentrates on the differences between expected and actual values. Counterintuitively, apart from the ideal zero variance, reconciliation software systems can be calibrated to accept greater variance tolerances, without arbitrariness or contradiction to sound business logic. Moreover, the quantitative analysis can encompass consecutive periods, establish patterns, and enclose supporting documentation. Follow-up can be thus automated.

10. ETL functionalities in reconciliation – ETL stands for Extract, Transform & Load and involves on-boarding source data. In the ETL process data can be extracted from numerous databases and applications, transformed into the appropriate form and then loaded/sent it to another system to support a business process. ETL functionality is widely applicable in reconciliation systems and is part of ReconArt’s™ DNA. Of particular benefit, recurring processes can be automated. Tasks can be scheduled in the right sequence via an intuitive scheduler. This process can be configured to create journal entries that can be transferred automatically to the General Ledger following approval flow. ETL also plays an integral role in analytics.

11. ERP or GL-agnostic – A generalized software which is in position to exchange information with different systems and can seamlessly integrate with other platforms, including third party ERP and GL software and subsidiary systems. The ERP/GL agnostic system is flexible enough to function in a variety of environments. Regarding data reconciliation, this property translates into added value for both the ERP vendor and its adopters. ReconArt™ is designed with technological synergy in mind, all geared towards advancing client success.

Certainly, the terminology list above is by no means exhaustive. In upcoming publications we will continue discussion on the subject, revealing other aspects of reconciliation and the groundbreaking process improvements introduced by ReconArt™. Stay tuned for:

  • what data reconciliation is in its essence,
  • what types of reconciliation you should be aware of, and
  • what application our solution has in different business domains.
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ReconArt for NetSuite

by ReconArt

ReconArt

What does ReconArt for NetSuite mean?

The simple answer would be: Managing and Automating your Reconciliations while NetSuite is your ERP system.

A more elaborate answer would be: NetSuite works the way your business works, built from the ground up to the cloud. NetSuite manages your business process and integrates your company’s financials, supply chain, operations, reporting, manufacturing, and human resource activities. However, no ERP can do it all – and Reconciliation is an integral part of contemporary accounting and finance that needs special attention. Whether bogged down with millions of transactions, having difficulties processing specific bank formats, experiencing deficiency in digesting common ERP financial data, struggling to reconcile the accounts, or not being able to demonstrate an auditable balance sheet reconciliation process, the common thought among finance professionals using ERP systems is “There has to be a better way”. NetSuite clients do not have to miss the reconciliation mark.

This “Better Way” for NetSuite clients is ReconArt for NetSuite – combining all the benefits of #1 Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud Business Software – NetSuite, with #1 Fully Web-based Cloud Reconciliation Platform – ReconArt.

How it works?

The best of both worlds, integrated into one, is achieved as part of SuiteCloud Developer Network (SDN) Partners – the “Built for NetSuite” program. ReconArt team designed and developed a communication bridge integrating ReconArt and NetSuite Systems.

ReconArt for NetSuite allows NetSuite customers to establish the highest degree of automation, best practice, control and consolidation of some or all reconciliation processes, like any type of transactional matching, positions & holdings reconciliation, balance sheet account reconciliation and even non-financial data recons. The integration incorporates all stages of the reconciliation lifecycle:ReconArt for NetSuite

  • data import, transformation and enrichment
  • matching and exception resolution,
  • reporting and analytics,
  • period end reconciliation, attestation and certification,
  • task management and journal entries back to the GL.

ReconArt for NetSuite is a 100% web deployed across every function: set up, administration, daily and period end activities and reporting – everything performed in the user’s browser of choice with no plug-in software installed. The Total Reconciliation Lifecycle solution is immediately available as a cloud-delivered Software-as-a-Service.

What are the ReconArt for NetSuite key benefits?

NetSuite customers are entitled to a long list of benefits being equipped with ReconArt for NetSuite Reconciliation platform

  • Reduce operational costs and minimize potential for errors by automation of manual and semi-manual reconciliation tasks:
    • Matching of transactional data
    • Exceptions investigation management
    • Journaling of bank fees, currency rate differences and other types of outstanding exceptions left after the reconciliation is completed. Journals can be automatically created in NetSuite replacing the traditional manual journal-entry process
  • Mitigate operational risk through automation
    • Automate error and exceptions identification
    • Automatically classify risk situations
    • Automate exceptions follow-up processes
  • Enhance compliance and audit readiness
    • Comply with all audit, regulatory and statutory requirements associated with the proper data reconciliation
    • Auditor role is easy to set up
  • Streamline reconciliation activities and relinquish manual and disparate processes involving paper reports and spreadsheets
  • Speed up period and quarter end cycles by dealing with issues on the spot, reinforcing a structured, automated workflow geared towards closing the books quickly

Which are the common reconciliation types supported by ReconArt for NetSuite?

  • Bank Reconciliation
    • Automate daily reconciliation statements with enterprise class ETL functionalities – configurable by business users, to be always on top of bank rec status
    • Support for multiple matching relationships – accounts can be reconciled on one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many basis
    • FTP/SFTP Push Support from most major banks – accommodates automated data transfer to avoid manual downloads and attachments
    • Journaling of the exceptions in NetSuite with multilevel approval process, configurable in ReconArt, based on the currency and the amount of the journaled transactions
  • Merchant/PSP Reconciliation
    • Multi-way match support – reconcile POS to Merchant/PSP (Payment Service Provider) as a first step, and then to the corresponding bank to ensure accurate transfer of all funds
    • Grouping and update rules facilitate the identification and reconciliation of transaction fees, batch payments, and other misc. transaction types
  • Payables and Receivables Reconciliation
    • Three way matching of orders to receipts to payments
    • Cash allocation for incoming payments from customers
    • Integration of scanned documents via third party OCR solutions
  • Investments Reconciliation
    • Track daily positions with ease and intuitive Position View
    • Drill down to matching of underlying trades and their associated cash settlements
    • Auto-matching using CUSIP, ISIN, SEDOL, and more
    • Monitor trends and risks with user assigned exception/break codes
  • Suspense Account Reconciliation
    • Single sided reconciliation
    • Auto match debits and credits one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many
    • Immediately flag and categorize risk situations
  • GL Account Reconciliation
    • Direct NetSuite integration for GL periods and balances
    • Certify account balances as often as needed with multi-calendar support (monthly, quarterly, yearly)
    • Automatically certify zero-balance or zero-change accounts to speed up financial close
    • Powerful, intuitive, and collaborative certification hierarchical workflow, adaptable to any account volumes
  • And More!
    • Expense account reconciliation
    • Inter and intra-company
    • Even non-financial data

ReconArt for NetSuite suitability

ReconArt for NetSuite covers all NetSuite customer industries and reconciliation subject specifics. Finance, Payment Services, eCommerce, Travel and Hospitality, Education, Food Services, Healthcare, Insurance, Manufacturing, Online Services, Internet & Telco, Retail, are all examples of supported industry domains.

Want to learn more, see how it works or get a detailed description? We are happy to get in touch – request a system Demo today:  https://www.reconart.com/about/contact/

Bringing success to NetSuite Clients: some recent implementations of ReconArt for NetSuite

By adopting ReconArt for NetSuite, clients across all industries globally promote both efficiency and reconciliation practice maturity. ReconArt allows organizations to establish the highest degree of automation, best practice, control and consolidation of their account reconciliation, reporting, and audit processes within a single Total Reconciliation Lifecycle solution.

 

WorldRemit, United Kingdom
Financial Services

WorldRemit is an online service that lets people send money to friends and family living abroad, using a computer, smartphone or tablet, available to senders in more than 140 countries and the number is growing all the time.

WorldRemit adopted ReconArt to allow a fully automated daily reconciliation of incoming and outgoing online FX transactions across many different currencies and correspondent banks. In addition to high-volume transaction matching, the team leverages ReconArt for journal entry approvals and balance sheet reconciliation at period-end.

 

Fullerton Health, Singapore
Hospital & Health Care

Fullerton Health is a leading provider of corporate healthcare solutions across Asia Pacific with more than 225 fully-owned medical centers and a network of more than 8,000 medical providers. As a fully integrated healthcare organization, Fullerton Health provides enterprise healthcare services, such as occupational health services, primary care services, executive health screening and medical benefits management services.

FHG is currently using ReconArt to perform bank reconciliation for their Australian entity. Тhe reconciliation is ran on a daily basis, with automatic upload & matching processes, where journals are sent via weblink to NetSuite. The company is also looking to implement benefits & payments reconciliation across multiple countries, including China, Singapore, Indonesia in the near future.

 

TransferGo, London, United Kingdom
Financial Services

TransferGo is the most convenient way to send money abroad for migrants and businesses. TransferGo is a ‘pure-play digital’ international money transfer service that is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as an authorized payment institution, enabling international money transfers across Europe and other global destinations.

After successful Nolan replacement, today TransferGo uses ReconArt for its daily bank reconciliation activities. TransferGo’s reconciliation is a high volume, daily process, which leads to automatic journaling and import into NetSuite. ReconArt allows for clear auditing of past transactions and follow-through of existing records.

 

Deliveroo, London, United Kingdom
Food & Beverages

Deliveroo is on a mission to bring you meals from high-quality restaurants with a transparent, speedy delivery service, courteous, friendly drivers and unparalleled customer service. Founded in 2012, Deliveroo is bringing great food to customers in 12 countries and over 200 cities.

Deliveroo reconciles all cash and bank transactions through ReconArt on a daily basis in GBP. They use the automatic upload and reconciliation functionality of ReconArt, allowing for them to focus only on reconciled items.

 

InstaReM, Singapore
Financial Services

Founded in 2014, InstaReM has created a unique payment mesh in Asia, which is being leveraged by financial institutions, SMEs and individuals to make fast and low-cost cross-border payments to more than 60 countries across the globe.

InstaReM reconciles worldwide transactions from all vendors through ReconArt, with more than 60 different data sources. The company is able to synchronize their data into a uniform and coherent format, which allows for easy statistics and comparison between the various vendors.

 

Texture, CA, United States
Online Media

Texture is a completely new way for readers to experience the world’s best magazines, reimagined for how people consume content today. Texture combines everything readers know and love about the print magazine experience and layers onto it the power of digital—giving people a curated reading experience that’s available anytime, anywhere.

ReconArt was initially referred to Texture by an existing Bay Area customer from the Hospitality space. Today they use ReconArt to reconcile hundreds of thousands credit card transactions between their sales records and multiple payment provider records including PayPal.

 

Pepperstone, Melbourne, Australia
Capital Markets

Pepperstone Financial is an execution only forex brokerage firm. The company provides access to fair, competitive and transparent pricing across all major currency pairs by equipping traders with best-in-class trading technology and customer service.

Pepperstone leverages ReconArt to reconcile accounts for several payment processors, as well as multiple bank accounts, all in multiple currencies. ReconArt is utilized for matching purchase orders and withdrawals against bank settlements and processor data in various data formats. ReconArt also assists the team in tracking and booking journal entries coming out of the reconciliation into NetSuite.

 

Smiles Inclusive Limited, Queensland, Australia
Health, Wellness and Fitness

In an increasingly collaborative economy, Smiles Inclusive was established to leverage the best parts of owning your own practice with the greatest aspects of joining a corporate business. Smiles Inclusive offers interested practice owners the ability to retain a vested interest in their business, while alleviating themselves of routine business functions which can diminish the very reason the core business exits – to perform dentistry.

Smiles Inclusive leverages ReconArt to automate and control the transactional reconciliation of their multiple dental practices in one centralized and auditable solution. ReconArt reconciles income and journals revenue, through the process of matching receipts of payments to invoices of services rendered. The solution sits between NetSuite, their practice management software, and multiple external payment sources and Medicare, Veterans Affairs, and other insurance providers.

 

Become a partner and spread the benefits to your clients

Partnerships in ReconArt matter a lot. We understand, appreciate and respect our partners. ReconArt has forged different kinds of partnership models to fit any need and delivers flexibility to accommodate specific requirements. It all comes with transparent pricing and clear terms. At the same time, we solve a number of potential challenges that partners usually face – it is easy and convenient to cooperate with ReconArt:

  • We take care of hosting our solutions and supporting the required environment
  • We take full care of the application’s support
  • We provide optional implementation services in case you do not have the capacity to handle it
  • Our solution works equally well with any industry and any company size
  • We are not afraid to stay flexible and confront unique cases and problems

We invest constantly and heavily to align our solution with client requirements while helping our partners understand and meet their ever-changing needs. It is a process of continuous improvement that differentiates ReconArt from similar solutions on the market.

Learn more about the Partnership Program at ReconArt: https://www.reconart.com/become-partner/

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Reconciliation Beyond Spreadsheets

by ReconArt

ReconArt

Spreadsheets are no doubt a great solution for data analysis and intermittent calculations, but their use as a long-term reconciliation solution proves unsustainable.

Recent studies suggest that Excel is still the most popular reconciliation tool for roughly 70% of the world’s financial institutions. Undoubtedly, its versatility, flexibility and wide accessibility make it a “weapon of choice” for the majority of finance and accounting professionals. But does conventional spreadsheet software have the proper functionalities to serve as an end-to-end reconciliation solution?

As reconciliation tasks grow more complex and transaction volume expands, F&A specialists inevitably encounter numerous unforeseen issues down the road. Backlog is piling up, technical failures emerge, document owners and users change. As a result, business critical pieces of information may fall through the cracks, carrying unpredictable implications. It becomes evident that the long term usage of spreadsheet technologies as a permanent approach in the reconciliation process is far from a productivity enhancement.

Spreadsheets containing interrelated tables with thousands of rows and columns have innate limitations and tend to fail under excessive data loads. Manual manipulation of intricate formulas and advanced Visual Basic scripting are likely to produce flaws. Changes in source systems and migration campaigns, or even a key user out of office could cause major disruptions in the workflow and data inconsistencies. Additionally, unrestricted control on user permissions, absent audit trail options and minimal data security easily constitute compliance lapses.

Here is a summary of the top 6 reasons why commonplace spreadsheet technology can no longer meet the advancing reconciliation needs of mature business organizations.

1 )  Lack of automation – a taxing compromise

As a rule, manual reconciliation is an overwhelming job. Input data is retrieved from various sources and in different formats. Compiling and transforming it to achieve normalization and enrichment on import, all done by hand, is tedious, time consuming, error prone and without auditable control. Reliable, scalable and maintainable automation of those recurring tasks is beyond the scope of spreadsheets product features. However, a modern reconciliation tool can handle the entire process automatically, applying any necessary data clean-up and enrichment as soon as the data is available.

2)  Slow and unreliable performance in larger scales

Dealing with larger data sets than a spreadsheet application is designed for can really slow you down. Heavy duty documents take ages to load, update and save even with the simplest of changes. Almost every organization at some point generates such documents for a variety of purposes in different departments (Budgeting, Sales, Planning, etc.). Also, in a regular spreadsheet, manual cell value updates may accidentally interfere with prior values, formulas and settings. The insertion of an additional field normally suggests that historic data should be related. However, maintaining historic relevance in spreadsheets is not always feasible. Obviously, in those cases the capacity of customary spreadsheet software is exceeded. Paradoxically, growth in data loads (usually a measure of success) can become a significant challenge for which spreadsheet technology is ill-suited.

3)  Rudimentary matching capabilities

Reconciliation via spreadsheets relies excessively on the knowledge of the reconcilers. In spite of the numerous predefined financial, mathematical, statistical, and database functions, spreadsheets are incapable of applying complex business logic. A specialized reconciliation solution, on the other hand, accommodates a rule-based communication across data sheets and information sources. It also takes steps further with exception management features, thus ensuring reconciliation process continuity, independent of the human factor.

According to Ignat Chakaroff, Product Specialist at ReconArt:

“The only known way to find duplicates within Excel is to have them all on one single sheet, which not only creates a data and processing burden, but also limits your matching capabilities to one single column at a time.

Our data shows that three out of four new ReconArt clients today face one-to-many or many-to-many matching scenarios, sometimes even coupled with variance tolerances which is near-impossible to achieve just by using Excel.”

4)  Versions history and data accuracy

Employees regularly store documents locally on their PC for reporting purposes. When a handful of experts rely on the same Excel report exchanged over email or some form of shared repository, it is arguable which is the latest version. Rolling back changes is also out of question. Collaboration among multiple users and keeping track of document versions easily gets out of hand. The aftermath can involve overlapping modifications, conflicting redactions, as well as inaccurate and repetitive data. Utilizing web-based applications hosted in the cloud, the proper mitigation of these complications is essentially effortless. They would allow smooth, secure, and synchronized collaboration while sparing troublesome deployment and upgrades.

5)  Tracking changes and auditability

Data entries and calculations output in a spreadsheet reconciliation framework often appear chaotic and unstructured. There is no clear workflow schedule visible or enforced. The separation of duties remains a vague concept. Changes administered on the formulas leave no definitive audit trail, although the reconciliation results can be affected dramatically. Drilling down to the finest transaction details frequently relies on fleeting human recollections which renders basic understanding by uninvolved parties impossible. There are no comprehensive exceptions management procedures at place. Those factors seriously hamper audit readiness.

6)  Absent analytics functionality

Spreadsheet based reconciliation relies on daily / monthly snapshots of data and fails to fully capture the dynamic process. An essential functionality such as transaction dating, which flags and sorts out outstanding transactions, is unattainable with generic productivity software. Reporting on aging and tracking exceptions to resolution remains out of scope. It is nearly impossible to generate advanced analytic cross-sections of matched transactions revealing important metrics such as volumes through different channels, fees paid, payment delays, etc. On the other hand, a specialized reconciliation tool offers enhanced analytics, sophisticated aggregations and dashboards, visualization of KPIs and integration with more advanced analytical solutions.

In Conclusion

An automated end-to-end solution is the smart choice to manage an elaborate reconciliation process in a professional manner. If you identify with the pain points outlined above, it could well be the right time to upgrade to an agile reconciliation and reporting solution.

ReconArt™ was developed with these challenges in mind and has successfully replaced retrograde spreadsheet-based tools with a solution capable of:

  • Full automation under one integrated product – data sourcing & import, transformation & enrichment, matching, exceptions management, reporting & analytics
  • Reconciliation of multiple data sources in various formats – fast & efficient
  • Web-based, ERP integrated, business user friendly
  • Super granular audit trail & full compliance
  • High volume transactional matching with the support of a powerful rules engine capable of applying advanced rules across many accounts at once

Learn more about the challenges our clients faced and how ReconArt™ revolutionized their reconciliation process in the post-spreadsheet era.

 

TekSavvy

Prior to adopting new technology, TekSavvy was using Microsoft Excel to perform its monthly reconciliations. However, the single workbook created to handle them grew to be very cumbersome to deal with. Additionally, the way it was set up back then, only one person at a time could perform reconciliation tasks. There would be errors and sometimes, most likely because the workbook was so large, Excel would crash before the document could be saved. This would result in data loss plus all the ensuing wasted time to recover it.

As TekSavvy was expanding rapidly, the company knew it needed to get beyond Excel which wasn’t able to keep up with the level of activity that the company was seeing. Therefore, TekSavvy went out to market looking for a tool that would automate its month end close and account reconciliations.

 

University of Auckland

The University of Auckland has a decentralized finance function. This leads to over 2,500 individual reconciliations that have to be completed each month. The task of collating all the balance sheet reconciliations for the quarterly review was overly onerous and time consuming. Accountants would perform balance sheet reconciliations manually using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. These reconciliations were then printed, reviewed and approved, and then stored as hard copies across multiple physical locations.

In summary, prior to embarking on the search for technology to address these issues, the University was experiencing major process inefficiencies, lack of visibility over key account balances and compliance with internal policy, internal control weaknesses raised by external auditors, risk of non-compliance with GAAP, and unnecessary printing and storage costs.

 

First National Bankers Bank

Prior to implementing ReconArt™, the bank used an internally IT-developed program only for the transaction matching and account reconciliation of its own account with the central bank (the Fed). All other reconciliation processes were done manually in Excel spreadsheets, with a heavy reliance on IT personnel when a mismatched item occurred.

FNBB has gained multiple advantages from the deployment of the ReconArt™ solution, such as:

  • Automation of key reconciliations in Finance Division, which were previously Excel based.
  • Time savings in several different areas – minimized IT support, 75-80% time saved in Fed reconciliations, speed up audit at month and year-end.
  • Elimination of manual and semi-manual spreadsheet-based processes.
  • Immediate identification of exceptions and their related risk.

 

Fiesta Insurance

As a direct result of deploying ReconArt™, Fiesta has gained multiple benefits, including automation of processes that were being handled manually using Excel spreadsheets and manual data input into QuickBooks.

“ReconArt™ offered excellent value and immediate return on investment. ReconArt as a partner demonstrated a clear and concise understanding of transaction matching. The modern design of the ReconArt™ solution means business users can configure new processes including data mapping and match rules with no more than Excel skills. This extreme ease-of-use makes ReconArt™ “revolutionary in the field of automating reconciliations” without IT involvement.”
says Diane Chaidez, Controller at Fiesta Insurance Franchise Corporation

 

New South Wales Treasury Corporation (TCorp)

TCorp was spending time extracting information from a number of systems and importing them into spreadsheets manually. After that, users were required to print the information and manually match items line by line between reports to undertake a reconciliation. The main cash reconciliation could itself take up to half a business day each day for one staff member. The information was stored in spreadsheets, something that TCorp’s leadership team believed posed a risk.

TCorp went out to market looking at a number of options for an automated reconciliation solution. Its two primary objectives were to find software to:

  • Reduce operational risk – move away from vulnerable spreadsheets, and
  • Save time and resource – free up valuable headcount to focus on higher value tasks

The overall benefits are best summed up by TCorp’s Head of Finance & Reporting, Raffi Kalenderian:

“ReconArt™ has delivered significant time savings along with risk reductions. It paid for itself almost immediately. We will now continue to deploy ReconArt™ to other important reconciliations within the business as time progresses.”

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ReconArt Is Developing Its Partnership Channel

by ReconArt

ReconArt

ReconArt is a single-solution technology company providing a modern, enterprise-class, fully web-based reconciliation platform to a diverse, global client base of all industries and sizes. Our firm is headquartered in the United States just outside of Washington DC and also has offices in Europe. We have been serving our clients and the market since 2011.

ReconArt is created as a web-based solution that comprehensively caters to all reconciliation needs while also being scalable and modern – not just in the sense of latest technology but also in the way it is priced, implemented, supported, and enhanced over time.

Why is ReconArt different from other similar solutions?

  • It is a full scale reconciliation tool – it originates from its matching engine and can perform any type of reconciliation – for financial, non-financial and industry specific data
  • We constantly reinvest and make the tool better – 2 major new releases per year based on market trends and client feedback and multiple small releases in-between
  • Total reconciliation lifecycle in just one integrated solution – data import, transformation and enrichment, matching, exception management, reporting and analytics, period end reconciliation, certification, compliance and auditability, journal entries back to the GL
  • You can rely on very strong ETL and automation capabilities, configurable by business users
  • Enhanced compliance is a focus– super granular audit trail, configurable workflow, total visibility, separation of duties
  • Self-sufficient and business user oriented

 

Why being a ReconArt partner isPartnership Grows

  • so different to other partnerships
  • a great experience
  • easy and beneficial?

Successful partnerships have always been a hot topic and main concern for both companies and analysts who strive to find the perfect recipe for joining forces. We also put great effort in developing our program – we aim to provide maximum value for our partners, to utilize our competencies, both technical and industry specific, and to leverage all strategic advantages of the solution.

Partnerships in ReconArt matter a lot. We understand, appreciate and respect our partners and seek to provide mutually beneficial and successful relations that create added value, foster development and inspire market innovations.

ReconArt offers different kinds of partnership models to fit any need and is flexible to accommodate specific requirements. It all comes with transparent pricing and clear terms. At the same time we solve a number of potential challenges that partners usually face. It is easy and convenient to cooperate with ReconArt:

  1. We take care of hosting our solutions and supporting the required environment
  2. We take full care of the application’s support
  3. We can take care of the implementation in case you do not have the capacity to handle it
  4. Our solution works equally well with any industry and any company size
  5. We are not afraid to stay flexible and confront unique cases and problems

We invest constantly and heavily to align our solution with client requirements while helping our partners understand and meet their ever-changing needs. It is a process of continuous improvement that differentiates ReconArt from similar solutions on the market. At the end, our ultimate goal is to respond fully to both customer and partner challenges in the most efficient way.

Learn more about the Partnership Program at ReconArt: https://www.reconart.com/become-partner/

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Coca-Cola Bottling Co. – Customer Success Story

by ReconArt

ReconArt

Company Profile

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (CCBCC) is the nation’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler. The Company operates primarily in the Southeast, with corporate offices located in Charlotte, North Carolina. CCBCC stock is traded on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol COKE.

Challenge

Steven Richards, Accounts Payable Manager and Lucia Kok, Accounts Payable Analyst, were trying to figure out whether the market had a good solution fit for the company’s corporate expenses reconciliation. Between the three data sources at play (JP Morgan credit card transactions, Concur for expenses control, and SAP as the system of record) and the company growing rapidly, this particular process was starting to become a challenge. As exceptions were growing increasingly difficult to identify and investigate, the process was starting to demand a disproportionate amount of time from the team.

Steve and the team were set on finding a reconciliation solution that was flexible enough to accommodate this process, yet straightforward to use and easy to implement. At the same time, it was important for the associated price tag to reasonably correspond to this initially limited business scope.

Solution

CCBCC looked at several reconciliation software vendors on the market and after seeing a number of product demonstrations, the company chose to implement ReconArt.net™ hosted in the cloud. ReconArt was selected because CCBCC felt the system offered rich functionality, yet was highly configurable and intuitive. CCBCC also received a very positive reference about the tool from another ReconArt client:

“We were already sold, but the person we spoke with was so excited about the product and what it’s done for them, so we echoed that excitement. It helped us in our decision.” – Steven Richards, Accounts Payable Manager, CCBCC.

Today ReconArt™ is up and running in CCBCC’s corporate office in Charlotte, NC and all expenses reconciliations are already automated in the system.

Benefits

Before adopting ReconArt.net™ for their expenses reconciliation, CCBCC could not achieve zero variance at the end of every month. Today, as a direct result of implementing the tool, CCBCC is able to enjoy many benefits related to operational accuracy and efficiency, including:

  • Running custom rules with the hit of a button
  • Intuitive and user-friendly system
  • Dramatically dropped level of error
  • Business self-sufficiency with minimum IT involvement
  • Substantial time savings, allowing the team to focus on higher-value tasks
  • Robust support resources, helping the team make the most of their investment

“The system helped us tremendously as far as doing the matching and the amount of time that it takes. Overall it’s been a great experience. We speak highly of ReconArt.” – summarizes Steve.

What’s next

Seeing ReconArt in action has inspired the team to consider other uses for the reconciliation solution across the company. One thought is to expand transaction matching and exception management benefits across other Accounts Payable processes involving data from SAP and other external sources. Another opportunity actually involves non-financial reconciliation: to help the company manage employee lists for increased HR visibility and master list accuracy.
ReconArt is proud to help support CCBCC’s growth and is looking forward to help implement the above processes later this year.

Industry and Topics Referenced by this article: Food & Beverage

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TekSavvy – Customer Success Story

by ReconArt

ReconArt

Company Profile

TekSavvy Solutions Inc. (TekSavvy) is one of Canada’s leading independent telecommunications service providers. Founded in 1998, TekSavvy provides residential and commercial internet and home phone services and more recently has developed a fixed wireless network which is used to provide high-speed internet access to underserved rural areas, TekSavvy has offices in Chatham, Ontario, and Gatineau, Quebec.

Challenges

Prior to adopting new technology, TekSavvy was using Microsoft Excel to perform its monthly reconciliations. However, the single workbook created to handle them grew to be very cumbersome to deal with. Additionally, the way it was set up back then, only one person could be in it at a time. There would be errors and, sometimes and most likely because the workbook was so large, Excel would crash before the document could be saved. This would result in data loss plus all the ensuing wasted time to recover it.

As TekSavvy was expanding rapidly, the company knew it needed to get beyond Excel which wasn’t able to keep up with the level of activity that the company was seeing. Therefore, TekSavvy went out to market looking for a tool that would automate its month end close and account reconciliations.

Solution

Angela Bilyea, Finance Leader at TekSavvy Solutions, evaluated numerous providers but most of them did not meet Teksavvy’s needs. Either the software solutions were extremely complex to set up and administer, or the functionally was too simplistic for TekSavvy’s growing requirements. Of course cost was always a factor as well.

ReconArt was selected as the fastest growing provider of automated reconciliation software solutions to deliver intuitive reconciliation functionality for the period close process by keeping all the work contained within a single platform.

“We thought we were getting great value with ReconArt™. It’s easy to use with a very quick learning curve. All of our users could just go in and figure out what they had to do with minimum training. The ReconArt implementation team was awesome. TekSavvy received the level of sophistication that we were hoping for at a price that was reasonable and we have not regretted the choice.” – says Angela.

Results & Benefits

The web-based ReconArt.net™ solution hosted in the cloud was deployed in Teksavvy’s headquarters in Ontario, Canada, in under two months. Today TekSavvy reconciles all of its balance sheet accounts within ReconArt each month. The resultant benefits that TekSavvy enjoys are multiple, among them:

  • The ability to have better control over documentation and having a more formal and visible process flow.
  • The system allows multiple users to be involved in the process and more than one person to be logged into the system at any time. It has allowed the company to bring accountability to different staff members based on their area of responsibility.
  • Teksavvy’s team is empowered to collaborate with full visibility through the automated workflow from preparer to reviewers and approvers, and back to preparers if reconciliations are rejected.
  • Functionality exists where unreconciled items are carried forward into the next month which gives an instant view of what the outstanding issues are by simply running a report.
  • The notifications engine with ReconArt automatically alerts staff to when work needs to be done, thereby ensuring that the close calendar is adhered to.
  • ReconArt provides a full audit trail for tracking and verification. External auditors can easily login into ReconArt to look at Teksavvy’s accurate and timely reconciliations on demand.

“I like the fact that all supporting documents are protected. Once they’re attached to ReconArt, the reconciliations are carved in stone but always retrievable; you can pull them up and look at them. Supporting documents are in the database, so if I ever want to go back and look at how a transaction was reconciled in the past it’s all right there.” – adds Angela.

In the future TekSavvy is looking to expand its use of the inherent reporting functionality of ReconArt to better track the progress of the period-end close, monitor account history, and collect and present outcomes and status information during and after the financial close process.

Industry and Topics Referenced by this article: Telecommunications

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Harmoney – Customer Success Story

by ReconArt

ReconArt

Company

Harmoney is New Zealand’s leading peer-to-peer lending platform that matches borrowers with investors to provide everyone with a better deal. Peer-to-peer lending is disrupting the traditional bank lending model around the world, using secure, trusted technology to bring people together to invest and borrow at rates they love.

Challenges

Harmoney receives investor money, disburses this to borrowers and collects repayments via trust accounts set up for investors. Harmoney is essentially in a custodian role, meaning that the capital they are responsible for managing is not on their balance sheet, but they carry significant responsibility in ensuring that the money transfers they perform are complete, accurate, properly recorded, and fully auditable.

In proactively auditing their own operations to prepare for anticipated growth, Harmoney found that although things were under control so far, transactional volume would soon begin to bottleneck and take a toll on internal resources. The team relied on a time-consuming, custom tool to identify reconciliation exceptions that needed attention. Itself a company dedicated to great technology that empowers people, Harmoney thought that there must be a good reconciliation system for these issues out there.

Evaluation

In educating themselves further on what was available, Harmoney became eager to put a solution in place that could not only scale up with its growing footprint, but also ensure visibility into common issues across systems and operations. It was also important to Harmoney to adopt a reconciliation solution that provided best practice reconciliation standards from the finance industry in terms of compliance, auditability, and automation.

Harmoney went out to the market to search for an automated reconciliation solution that could meet all the above requirements as well as offer a long-term, partnership approach. Following a swift and in-depth Proof-of-Concept evaluation with its own data sets and matching criteria, Harmoney rapidly identified ReconArt as the ideal reconciliation partner.

Solution & Results

According to Kriti Nath, Finance Manager and Simon Ward, Harmoney’s CFO, the selection of ReconArt’s reconciliation system came down to the following reasons:

  • Ease of use – everything in ReconArt, from parsing and mapping data to transaction matching, is laid out in a very logical, easy-to-understand interface. Harmoney’s process requires a complex string of matching rules, but extensive rule testing and optimization together with the ReconArt Specialist helped ensure the best possible matching results.

“Changing the rules has been very straight forward. When we have had changes to the way files are structured it has been very easy to modify the rule itself to accommodate that.” says Kriti.

  • Exceptions handling – ReconArt’s solution allows for exceptions to be manually or automatically categorized, so that the common reasons for outstanding items can easily be filtered and reviewed at any time.

“ReconArt has been really helpful in highlighting common issues for cash movements not coinciding with source system transactions… it has been really helpful in showing us how we can improve our existing system reporting and monitoring.” – states Kriti.

  • Partnership mentality – ReconArt proved its desire to be not just a vendor, but a partner that would work with Harmoney to derive the most value from its investment.

“Working with ReconArt so far has been nice and smooth…we definitely receive prompt responses to questions from our ReconArt Specialist.” – summarizes Kriti.

ReconArt’s support was essential to help configure Harmoney’s complex matching logic and transfer the skills to key business users who will be expanding use of the product internally.

What’s next

Today, Harmoney’s first process with ReconArt™ reconciliation software is successfully up and running. Having acquired the full knowledge set to independently administer and use ReconArt, Harmoney is actively working towards transitioning all trust accounts to a daily ReconArt reconciliation process. Further reconciliation processes will likely be on-boarded later in 2016.

ReconArt is proud to support Harmoney’s dedication to best practices in reconciliation and financial integrity, as well as be a part of its ongoing success in the region and beyond.

Industry and Topics Referenced by this article: Finance, Financial Services, Lending

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BBN (Bankers’ Bank Northeast) – Customer Success Story

by ReconArt

ReconArt

Company

Bankers’ Bank Northeast (BBN), based in Glastonbury, CT, was founded in 1998 and is one of 17 bankers’ banks nationally. The Bank offers a variety of correspondent services to community financial institutions throughout the six New England states, New York and New Jersey. BBN is committed to offering products and services that enhance the customer experience and improves profitability.

Challenges

BBN’s strategic plan included the implementation of a bank-wide reconciliation platform to automate daily, monthly and quarterly reconciliations that were being manually processed. Primarily the Bank wanted to automate matching of the ever-growing volume of transactions from its principal Federal Reserve account. This included all wire transfers for the Banks’ customer base. BBN also wanted to initially automate a suspense account through which individual ACH transactions for all respondents flowed. Using the manual method, when errors did occur it was a time and resource consuming process that could take the bank days to research and resolve. Addressing these challenges would improve efficiency and reduce associated costs thereby helping drive ever greater customer satisfaction – clear goals of BBN for its customers.

Evaluation

BNN was introduced to the concepts of automating reconciliations at the annual Bankers’ Bank Operations Conference 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana; hosted that year by First National Bankers’ Bank, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

After learning the benefits of automation and control, BBN initiated a due diligence exercise to identify an automated reconciliation platform that would achieve the following:

  • Deal quickly with daily reconciliations thru process automation
  • Improve the efficiency of high cost, valuable resources
  • Early Identification of operational risk situations
  • Standardize reconciliation activities within an integrated platform
  • Have the potential to turn the new platform into a future revenue-generating service for their clients

The ReconArt™ platform, already proven in many other financial institutions, was selected as the best solution to meets all the Bank’s needs.

Benefits

Since implementation, ReconArt™ has delivered multiple benefits to BBN.  These include:

Summary

BBN has implemented 16 reconciliations on ReconArt™ with plans to identify additional target areas for automation and control. Furthermore, BBN has shared its successes with their clients that are evaluating similar technology solutions automate processes and improve efficiencies.

Charlotte Hansen, SVP & CFO, perfectly summarizes the general verdict: “ReconArt’s reputation for service and technology caught the attention of BBN as we searched to automate internal processes, expand reporting capabilities and enhance efficiencies.  In our recent core conversion, there were transactions posting in the wrong direction. These were easily researched and identified with ReconArt™, with our previous manual process this could potentially have taken a couple of days. Transitioning to Recon Art has proven to be the right choice for BBN.”

Industry and Topics Referenced by this article: Banking

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