Anatomy of a first-class tax information reporting process
Artie Wolk | vice president, Wall Street Concepts, FIS
May 04, 2020
Growing financial firms will be among the first to tell you that one of the most pernicious sources of hidden cost and compliance risk lies in their tax reporting processes. As firms grow, their staff and legacy systems are challenged to keep up, not only with the influx of new reporting activity, but with the ongoing stream of new products and changing regulations that are ever-present in the financial services industry. As the workload grows, often, junior tax professionals are charged to pick up the slack, making manual corrections on critical details with limited knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of our massively complex tax code. Altogether, an inefficient and risky proposition.
In light of the challenge, growing firms would do well to conduct a best practice review of their tax operations, to better align with customer needs and evolving industry statutes.
Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- What manual tasks can be automated to improve efficiency?
- Where are the most likely points of failure?
- Are infrastructure or legacy systems creating latency, privacy or IT issues?
- Are there sufficient controls in place to ensure compliance?
- Is the system able to scale in step with firm growth?
With answers to these questions, the next step is to review existing procedural documents, including run books, tax calendars, guides, organizational charts and client service protocols. The goal is to minimize year-end pressure by eliminating manual interventions and identifying gaps between existing and industry standards.
Next, review the tax operation horizontally and vertically, from account opening to corporate action processing to tax withholding and other upstream activities that can potentially impact a smooth, seamless workflow. Look at the forms required for year-end reporting and consider how the data can be groomed and collected in advance in a more accurate and efficient manner.
In all things, consider customer and regulatory perspectives. What will these stakeholders be looking for and how can you make the information more accessible and easier to understand for them?
Lastly, as in any review of this nature, it is always wise to seek outside, independent counsel. It is simply too easy to overlook a flaw that has been a part of the established system for years. A fresh set of eyes can reveal especially valuable insights.
FIS’ Wall Street Concepts has been helping financial services firms meet U.S. Federal and state tax information reporting requirements for more than 30 years, perfecting the systems and technologies it takes to ensure a free-flowing, efficient and compliant tax reporting process. To learn more or schedule a professional best practice review of your tax operation, please contact FIS’ Wall Street Concepts at www.WSC.com.