Collaborative Disclosure Management: One Source of the Truth

Back in September, I had the opportunity to speak at Tagetik’s annual In Touch conference about how John Hancock and Manulife have automated financial reporting.  If you weren’t fortunate enough to be in Tuscany (more on that below), here’s a snapshot of our story.  It revolves around the merger of these two companies, both of which been around for more than 125 years. The deal created one of the largest insurance companies in the world. The combined company operates as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife in Canada.

When I joined John Hancock in 2011, my job was to figure out how to improve financial reporting processes throughout the merged organization in a cost-effective and streamlined manner.  The merger had proven hugely successful in the marketplace, but the finance groups in the United States and Canada shared some big pain points --  multiple databases, manual and error prone processes and a lack of consistency in financial statements and disclosures, to name a few. 

As we put together our project team, we focused on creating one source of the truth within our existing Lawson general ledger environment that would allow us to produce all of our financial statements on the various basis of accounting for our numerous legal entities.  We selected Tagetik’s Collaborative Disclosure Management (CDM) solution based on its advanced functionality, including the ability to leverage our existing GL and other tools.  

Our approach was to implement CDM first within John Hancock, using the United States as our test pilot and allowing our finance team to become expert users.  Then, with a full year of reporting and refinement behind us, we would introduce Tagetik throughout Manulife.  

To give you a sense of our reporting complexity, my Boston-based team is responsible for producing financial statements for more than 26 entities in the United States alone.  While some of these financial statements are audited and some are just for board use, they were all coming from different sources. Today, using Tagetik CDM, we can upload all of our financial information into a central repository and pull the data directly into our financial statements.  

The benefits of using an automated disclosure management solution are many, but one of the biggest is that it provides a single source of truth. For instance, when you have the same dollar amount in numerous locations, you upload it once and simply map it where you want it to appear in your financial statements. Like many companies, we used to type every number into our financial statements -- a burdensome task for our team responsible for producing nine documents simultaneously for the SEC and insurance regulators. Using Tagetik has significantly reduced our manual entry, not to mention the number of errors.    

Tagetik CDM has also brought standardization and consistency to the narrative in our reports. Our many insurance entities are managed by different finance team members, each with different wording styles. Prior to implementing Tagetik, we didn’t have the time to look at our disclosures and make sure the terminology was consistent. With Tagetik, you can set up the linking feature so that as the master document is updated, so is the comparable text in all of your underlying documents.  

If you’re interested in more details about how we automated financial reporting at John Hancock – and continue to implement throughout Manulife globally -- you can view my In Touch presentation or download the case study.    

Finally, a note about Tagetik In Touch: The spectacular Tuscany setting aside, the conference is true to its name. I had many opportunities to share stories with innovative finance professionals from around the world.  And Tagetik management, product development and consulting teams are deeply in touch with customers, welcoming feedback and ways to help us optimize the solution. If you’re thinking ahead to 2015, this is one event I would encourage you to seriously consider attending.


Tagetik Collaborative Disclosure Management

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