The story behind our disclosure management and narrative reporting acquisition has seen firsthand how difficult it’s become to reach the so-called ‘last mile’ of financial reporting.
When a public company creates an annual report, for example, finance and accounting aren’t working alone. A sustainability team might want to include the firm’s ESG numbers. Investor relations, HR and legal might need to review, edit and approve the content. The report might have to be shared with designers, then sent to translators.
Producing annual reports and others can mean months of manual, disjointed cutting pasting, updating and editing. The risk for errors, inconsistencies and out-of-date information is high. It makes meeting deadlines even more stressful.
“It just makes sense to do this in a central environment where you have collaborative access to whatever documents you need,” Didier says. “It's as simple as that.”
Since the company was founded in 2018, its cloud-based approach has accelerated that journey to the last mile.
Anyone can use the platform to manage and deliver a variety of documents to stakeholders in a reporting process. This not only includes the financial close and FP&A reports, but iXBRL, IFRS 17 and solvency documents, among others.
Last week I proudly announced that Fluence acquired Sturnis365. It’s an important milestone for us, and exciting to welcome Sturnis’s customers, partners and team to the Fluence family.
To jump right to the product details, visit the Fluence Disclosure Management section on our site.
Sturnis365 has developed technology that seems almost tailor-made for today’s world of decentralized teams and remote work. The logic behind the acquisition goes much deeper than that, though.
Complex business ownerships, changing reporting requirements and disparate data sources often result in inefficiencies and data quality issues and other risks with traditional disclosure management. These can lead to problems in compliance, governance and the ability to have a clear audit trail.
Sturnis365 has not only made disclosure management collaborative but has addressed these challenges too. Like Fluence, it is:
Disclosure management is not a "one-and-done" exercise, either. Companies need to go through this every time a report is updated or recreated for a new financial reporting period. Normally, that means starting from scratch again. More analysis, designing a new project, creating a template, writing and validating.
One of Sturnis365’s most notable innovations is in what it calls inverse design. It means you can take an existing annual report and have Sturnis365 break it down into metadata and objects.
Imagine something in your business changes, for instance, like a decrease in sales one quarter. Intelligence within Sturnis365 can determine what code or dimensions need to be updated.
By taking an end product and working backwards, Sturnis365 says its customers have seen huge benefits and quick time to value including:
This is not a matter of engaging a large consulting firm for months on end. This is all out of the box, which is another quality Fluence and Sturnis365 share.
See how in our 3-minute demo:
The marquee names among Sturnis365’s existing customer base speak to the strength of its track record. Take Anheuser-Busch Inbev, for example.
The multinational drink and brewing company deployed Sturnis365 in the U.K., the U.S. and and elsewhere. When we interviewed the company’s Global Finance Director for Group reporting, life before using Sturnis365 was compared to the Stone Age.
Life before using Sturnis365 was compared to the Stone Age.
Today, the disclosure management process sounds completely streamlined:
"Basically, what I do is I connect to Sturnis, then I go to the data source. I open my Excel file, I review the numbers and then extract the numbers from the tool automatically. I review it, and if it makes sense, I prepare my notes and close it. Then I refresh it in our document and the disclosure is there."
There are more than 50 active users of Sturnis365 across AB-Inbev. No matter who needs to make an update during the reporting process, though, data integrity and version control is maintained. This includes when different stakeholders are working on specific subsections, or when data needs to be linked or refreshed across Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
As Didier has pointed out, Fluence and Sturnis365 share some DNA. In fact, the Sturnis engine was originally developed by Hervé Capo, our own VP Product and architect of much of the consolidation software on the market today.
Before Fluence, Hervé built the consolidation engines for OutlookSoft/SAP BPC, Cognos/IBM Controller and other household names in finance over 30 years.
Strategically, bringing Sturnis365 into Fluence gives us a final pillar in a complete financial corporate performance management (CPM) solution. It means finance now has a platform to handle consolidation, close, reporting and disclosure management.
“It's about time that we have one company on this planet that has a solution for every stage of closing,” Didier says. “Everybody was missing at least one piece. We were as well. But not anymore.”
“It's about time we have a solution for every stage of closing. Everybody was missing at least one piece. Not anymore.”
The acquisition not only extends Fluence's value to larger public and other regulated companies; it allows us to help finance teams transform how they handle any narrative reporting need.
Adding Sturnis365 doesn’t just meet the growing demands modern finance functions are facing today in terms of disclosure management. It also means Fluence can better prepare them for the future of narrative reporting.
In order to stay agile to changing conditions, for instance, many businesses are trying to boost the cadence of reporting. This can include monthly and even weekly reporting to a range of internal stakeholders. Today, this might look like an e-mail containing an Excel file, along with a message that describes what happened.
Bringing financial and non-financial together through integrated reporting sets you up to tell a more meaningful story about the business. Sturnis365 has built-in capabilities to do that. You can tell those stories through an annual report, board books, lender reports or investor updates. This is not limited to publicly regulated entities that need disclosure management, but any business. It also means:
Robert Kugel, SVP and Research Director at Ventana Research, has been following the performance management and disclosure management space for decade. Not surprisingly, the significance of our acquisition was clear.
“Fluence’s acquisition of Sturnis365 adds the essential capability of efficiently creating and managing documents used for regulatory filings and other reporting where accuracy and control are critically important,” he observed.
“Sturnis365 complements Fluence’s robust, enterprise financial consolidation, close and reporting solution, enabling time-pressed finance departments to spend more time on analysis while addressing broader mandates for narrative reporting.”
“It complements Fluence’s robust, enterprise financial consolidation, close and reporting solution, enabling time-pressed finance departments to spend more time on analysis while addressing broader mandates for narrative reporting, including internal board books, investor presentations and more stringent environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting,” Kugel added.
“Company reports are becoming more and more lavish. And there's more and different kinds of people that have to interact,” Didier says. “Before it was just finance people, sifting through the numbers and juggling written documents. That time is behind us.”
The way forward has been clear for some time, and it’s been the backbone of Fluence’s strategy from day one.
Modern finance needs a pure-play, purpose-built solution for today’s reporting needs and tomorrow’s, not a patchwork of Excel spreadsheets.
This goes beyond simply an ability to report across subsidiaries, regions and currencies, though. That’s table stakes.
What separates the true leaders is complete integration across the end-to-end finance process. Something that spans from account rec to consolidation. reporting and disclosure.
Right now, organizations spend too long figuring out all the pieces required for narrative reporting to happen. With Sturnis365, Fluence will allow finance leaders to focus more on the narrative itself:
Fluence will not only help companies bring those narratives to life, but ensure they remain “living” stories.
Want to learn more yet? Get started with Fluence’s disclosure management and narrative reporting solution today.
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