Qtrade Financial Group

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Following up from the opportunity to speak with the CFO of Qtrade Financial Group about the challenges of running the finance department of a B2B fintech operation, we took a closer look at how other components have journeyed towards their current day status and how they operate as an important cog in the company’s success. This is how Shayne Kong, Controller, recounts the past few years of the Finance - Corporate Accounting Team.

Most Innovative Finance Team – Canada & Online Brokerage Firm of the Year - Qtrade Investor

At its core, the corporate accounting team at Qtrade is tasked with the responsibility of capturing and disseminating financial information arising from financial transactions. Beyond this is the opportunity to separate ourselves from the other accounting teams and become the best performing team!

The corporate accounting team has certainly evolved over the last several years and together with the reporting & analytics team, the finance department has embraced the choice to deliver outstanding service and be a top performer.
In order to deliver at that top-tier level, the work starts at the hiring stage, continues at the training and development stage and simply continues on after that. It simply never ends! The financial services industry is constantly changing, and technology continues to evolve and improve, becoming readily available to those equipped to quickly identify and put into use. Qtrade Finance attracts, hires and retains staff that can consistently deliver on these demands.

In total, Qtrade Financial Group is comprised of several operating entities offering comprehensive solutions all along the wealth continuum. As a result, a certain level of complexity arises requiring the corporate accounting team to focus on internal as well as external stakeholders or users of our services and output. These stakeholders or users include shareholders and management and department heads, our ever-growing list of partners, industry regulatory bodies and associations and external auditors.

Generally speaking, the corporate accounting team is organised in such a way to align a team member to one or more corporate entities while at the same time taking into consideration the aforementioned stakeholders and users. Functions which tend to permeate across all entities (for example - payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable) are, however, assigned to specific members of the team. Building a strong, cohesive and effective team requires improvements in workflow and processes and integrating financial information capture and reporting.

One of the most pivotal moments in our success today was the decision to invest in an ERP system in 2012, which paved the way for the capturing of financial information at broader and deeper levels. The initial vision of providing granular details for internal and external use forced us to build a framework around flexibility and scale. For example, the combining of all the Qtrade entities into a ‘singular entity’ within the ERP system proved to be the turning point for what was to come. Though not revolutionary, this multi-entity-management concept gave us the opportunity to introduce a shared-services model that quickly paid dividends.

With Qtrade having such a fully integrated suite of product offerings, the shared-services model became an obvious necessity. Building upon a stronger foundation, the focus quickly turned to the reporting of information. What good is the information captured if it is not used to achieve the ultimate goal of accelerating and maximising profit?
In tandem with the ERP system, the development of our proprietary finance database brought our financial reporting to a whole new level.

Expectations within the team and from elsewhere were raised. Senior management needed to understand the financial levers of the company and the key performance indicators in order to make informed decisions on resources. Partners also looked to us to report useful financial information in a timely manner.

As you can imagine, the financial services industry is laden with transactional information. Working with our IT department and reporting and analytics teams, we set out to define and organise all the information already captured within the core operational systems into usable data sets for populating the newly created finance database.
Integrating internal and external reporting was starting to come together.

For example, we utilise a 5 segment, 17-character alpha-numeric string in our general ledger account numbering to provide not only flexibility and scale but to offer the ability to bring reporting and analytics to the forefront. We have the ability to report and analyse by division, department, expense type, and even by partner or any other category. Bringing together the ERP setup with the data sets in the finance database, we were able to efficiently marry the requirements of internal users while also meeting the demands of external users. One early by-product of this integrated process was the ability to auto-generate a monthly journal entry comprising of 800 plus lines for seamless upload into the ERP system.

It soon became very clear very quickly that we needed to streamline processes, and where possible make use of technology to automate. As a result, we could spend less time keying in entries and more time on analysing information and communicating the findings.

Looking towards 2017 and beyond, the corporate accounting team at Qtrade is poised to take on greater challenges. We continue to work closely with our reporting and analytics team to further strengthen our department’s ability to meet and exceed expectations. Perhaps we will also reach out to our finance counterparts at the partner level and offer them a monthly automated set of journal entries, to go along with their existing reports. Regardless of what challenges may lie ahead, we have the infrastructure, we have the tools and more importantly we have the people to move towards even greater success

Name: Shayne Kong
Company: Qtrade Financial Group
Email: skong@qtrade.ca

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