Established in February 2000, Fox Symes & Associates (FSA) has grown to be the largest provider of debt solutions to individuals and businesses in Australia. Specialising in mortgage refinancing, bankruptcy assistance, and business finance solutions, FSA helps 100,000 Australians each year take control of their finances. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of FSA Group Limited, a publicly listed company on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Facilitate Growth and Acquisition Strategy

With a growth and acquisition strategy on the horizon, FSA recognised they needed to change their 15-year-old budgeting and reporting processes. A key goal was to deliver reliable and timely data to its main stakeholders.

“Collecting data for our monthly reports was very difficult as we had multiple massive, and complex excel files as well extracting data from our ERP system”.

The digital transformation was driven by FSA’s CFO, Cellina Chen with the assistance of GK Horizons as their trusted implementation advisors. Cellina cites that existing excel driven processes were slow, laborious, and prone to human errors. “Collecting data for our monthly reports was very difficult as we had multiple massive, and complex excel files as well extracting data from our ERP system”.

Budgeting and forecasting were also a challenge. FSA encountered constant data inconsistency and security issues, coupled with key personnel knowledge risks. “At the end of each month, we had 2 key staff spending two days manually adjusting all the spreadsheets and manually refreshing these reports based on actuals.” The complexities associated with monthly reports were extended to yearly reports. Twice-yearly cashflow reports would take up to three days to prepare.

Automating The Entire FP&A Process

The Workday Adaptive Planning solution provided FSA the ability to streamline and automate their forecasting, budgeting and reporting processes. However, a well-thought-out design phase is the key to a successful future state. Cellina mentions that “GK Horizons was very helpful during this phase, had good knowledge of the planning solution and ultimately produced an outcome that suited FSA’s requirements. The team had good attention to detail and was quick to respond”. FSA currently uses the planning solution for Cashflow, Profit/Loss and Balance Sheet management.

“Now that all the data is integrated, everything is accurate, and the team is very happy.”

The models designed by GKH were specific for FSA, including a unique Marketing Model. The glue to all of this was the robust integration build, bringing in data from various sources relevant for FSA. “The initial stages of the build were complex as we had to internally manage parallel systems” Cellina says. “Now that all the data is integrated, everything is accurate, and the team is very happy.”

When it comes to forecasting, Cellina Chen said, “The solution has changed my life”. With the ability to look further out to 3 or 5 years, “all we need to do is change reforecasting dates, review, and adjust. It’s all very easy now with no manual updating of figures every month.

Leveraging Marketing and Finance Data During COVID

FSA extended their use of Workday Adaptive Planning beyond the finance team. With the assistance of GK Horizon’s integration specialist, FSA draws data from various important sources (e.g. Facebook and Google accounts), allowing Marketing Directors access to lead generation and conversation rate reporting daily. This future thinking initiative was proven critical for the organisation during covid, as they had vital information to quickly assess marketing expenditure and impact. This collaborative planning led to monumental savings for the business at a time of uncertainty.

“Best Investment We Have Ever Made”

FSA has achieved a significant return on investment from this finance digitisation. “The board of directors were initially hesitant to fund the investment, however given the results admits it’s the best investment they have ever made” Cellina says.

These results included a:

  • reduced headcount by two
  • reduced month-end preparation by two days
  • reduced time to run scenarios by two days
  • cashflow reporting used to take three days to prepare and was done only twice a year – this can now be done monthly

These efficiencies, because of reliable and centralised data, has meant the team has played a more valuable role in providing insights rather than churning numbers. Office Connect has been very well received from stakeholders, impressed with how quickly and accurately reports can be finalised. Cellina mentions her team’s reputation has been elevated within the business, a success which GKH is proud of given their aim is to make the Office of Finance perform better, function more efficiently and to make better decisions.

Continued Growth and Self Sufficiency

FSA continues to grow their business through acquisition. “The great thing about Workday Adaptive Planning is that it is quite flexible and easy to use” says Cellina. With the recent acquisition of another business, Celina’s team was able to merge two company’s financial data and report on it quite quickly.

“It was very easy to bring the new business data into Adaptive and consolidate. We can set up our own Chart of Accounts for new business and map relevant codes to bring in the right data”. More so “GK Horizons’ experienced training and education process earlier on was key to FSA becoming self-sufficient”.

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