Gone are the days of ledger books and manual calculations. In their place, we find automated processes, real-time reporting, and a level of efficiency that was once unimaginable. This dynamic synergy between accounting and the digital landscape has not only streamlined financial procedures, but has empowered businesses with data-driven insights and the ability to make informed, strategic decisions.
One company that has embraced this change is Stepping Stone. Founded in 2014 in Singapore, this digitally native accounting, compliance, and advisory firm has rapidly grown its presence, establishing offices in global hubs including Hong Kong, The Philippines, India, Australia, and Ireland. The organisation prides itself on a world-class advisory team, with backgrounds as international CFOs, investment bankers, and independent directors. Not to mention, the CFO team offers a depth of expertise spanning major markets throughout the Asia-Pacific and Europe, all bolstered by knowledgeable accounting, compliance, and finance professionals. Cementing the firm’s leading status, Stepping Stone currently holds the esteemed place of being the sole Xero Platinum Partner and Spotlight Reporting Super VCFO in Singapore.
Leaving a spreadsheet nightmare
Like many businesses, Stepping Stone has grappled with the excessive use of Excel, a manual process that too many of us are familiar with, with too much time spent on gathering data, instead of actually analysing it thereby adding value for their clients. Tired of spending too many hours in Excel, the Stepping Stone team approached Spotlight Reporting for help.
Their journey to discovering Spotlight Reporting started with a group of CFOs exploring and evaluating new solutions that integrated with Xero. It wasn’t long before the team were diving into the app through demonstrations and engaging in in-depth team discussions. The onboarding process was well structured, with dedicated training sessions delivered by the Spotlight Reporting support team, whose customer-centric and partnership approach resonated with Stepping Stone’s own practice principles. The CFOs earned their Spotlight Certification and gained access to valuable resources like the Transform in Action guide tailored for advisors.
Driving data and insights with Spotlight Reporting
Spotlight Reporting became an instant game-changer for Stepping Stone. Moving on from burdensome tooling, the team were able to streamline processes and provide valuable insights into historical performance and future predictions. These insights can then be the catalyst for informed, timely decisions that empower businesses and entrepreneurs to grow strategically.
With comprehensive three-way reporting, including executive summaries, action plan tracking and KPI reporting, they were able to emphasise not only profit but also cash flow. The reporting improved their client's financial approach to their reports visibility, thereby basing decisions focused on data-driven and responsive analysis. They have seen a clear shift in the way business owners and entrepreneurs are analysing and reacting to the reports.
With a click of a button, data can be imported from a variety of accounting systems and Excel making it a powerful tool when juggling multiple clients and ledgers at once. The data imported can then be drilled down at a business segment, and location level further enhancing the analysis. Also, the data held in Spotlight Reporting is in the ledger currency so having a seamless audit trail helps their business, especially during busy seasons.
“Providing valuable financial analysis acts as a catalyst for informed, timely decisions that empower businesses and entrepreneurs to grow strategically.” - Zenaida Bharucha, Portfolio CFO
When it came to the technology, Stepping Stone was able to utilise the 3-way cash flow forecasting feature, which gave them accuracy and completeness. Spotlight Forecasting forces the users to think through assumptions and their impacts, thus ensuring data integrity and value. In addition, Scenario Planning is key in the forecasting module for Stepping Stone, as not only can they prepare multiple scenarios quickly but comparisons can be made between scenarios and original forecasts. This has become particularly relevant for Stepping Stone as they use this as an M&A tool for their clients who are selecting acquisition opportunities.
Saving time and making investments
In a short span of time, Stepping Stone were able to see the real benefits of Spotlight Reporting, and were truly impressed when it came to helping their clients.
As an example, when a regional client in the alcohol distribution space approached them, Spotlight Reporting allowed the firm to work out the profitability and liquidity results across different entities and multi-currency ledgers in a timely and accurate manner, by automating consolidation adjustments and identifying consolidation differences. Once historic reporting was implemented, the focus of the business moved to future predictions for profit and cashflow to derive ordering forecasts thereby ensuring target KPIs were achieved.
In Excel, our reports would have taken days to complete, whereas in Spotlight Reporting, it took no more than a few hours. Stepping Stone discovered that the upfront investment in time and effort can go a long way in future reporting – not only for numbers but also chart analysis and management projects with action plans.
With Spotlight Reporting, Stepping Stone has experienced exponential growth in their CFO clients. In their team of four CFOs, they are doing two to three more client presentations per week with Spotlight Reporting at the front and centre of those discussions, and they’re seeing 75% conversion rates. It has also allowed Stepping Stone to work more closely with their regional and larger clients in training and upskilling in-house finance teams, thereby future-proofing their business for years to come.
“In Excel, our reports would have taken days to complete, whereas in Spotlight Reporting, took no more than a few hours.”
Stepping Stone going global
To take things globally, they have seen how with Spotlight Reporting they have been able to expand in other Asian and European markets and partner with local accounting practices - a major win for Stepping Stone and their clients. Spotlight Reporting acts as the enabler of their advisory services maintaining their own brand and identity where clients can see their financial analysis in white labelled and customised reports.
Stepping Stone has seen huge client benefits in the last 12 months, with a greater demand from business owners and entrepreneurs to understand their cash flow needs, plan for the future, secure funding, and enable their businesses to grow. With Spotlight Forecasts there is complete and insightful financial visibility for businesses looking to grow successfully whether it is organically or through acquisitions.
Streaming financial operations - a blossoming partnership
The partnership between Stepping Stone and Spotlight Reporting stands as a testament to the power of having a robust digital reporting and forecasting tool. The adoption of Spotlight Reporting has not only streamlined financial operations for Stepping Stone but has elevated the quality and value of data-driven decision-making.
Ready to grow
In the digital age, the synergy between financial expertise and advanced technology is a driving force behind the evolution of the financial industry. Stepping Stone's journey with Spotlight Reporting demonstrates a prime example of this transformative partnership, and it underpins the potential of digital tools in shaping the financial landscape of tomorrow. The industry is poised for remarkable growth, and those who embrace and leverage these digital innovations are bound to thrive in an ever-growing world of accounting.
Discover more on Stepping Stone here: https://steppingstone.io