Global Compliance: Get on the Wave or Get Stuck at Sea While Sharks Circle.

AuthorSimons, Tad

Pick the Right Wave to Ride to Shore

Some people call it transformation, others disruption. Change is coming in the broader world and in business. The world and business environments are less certain as economies slow. Businesses need to streamline and sharpen their focus to survive. Tasks are either taken away from traditional roles and outsourced or placed on existing staff as increased demands.

With all this change and uncertainty, you may feel as if you are waiting out at sea, the sharks circling and the waves around you getting bigger and bigger, with no way to shore. Eventually, if you want to get back to stable dry land, you need to pick a wave and ride it the whole way home.

If you have ever watched a televised surfing competition, you have probably wondered how competing surfers choose which wave to ride. To get a score, surfers must commit to and ride at least two waves. Waiting around without catching a wave will mean that they score nothing at all and lose.

Elite surfers can adapt to the changing conditions presented to them, allowing them to catch the right wave and guarantee success. This contrasts with amateur surfers who may stay in one place, using the same techniques and therefore missing all the opportunities.

At the moment, the approach in the tax and accounting world is more like that of an amateur surfer than that of an elite professional. Traditionally, organizations have looked at in-house strategies for compliance in one country alone, where compliance would generally form a portion, albeit time-sensitive and intensive at times, of a broader country- or region-focused tax or accounting professional role.

What Are Other Segments of the Enterprise Doing?

Tax and accounting teams can take note of how other segments of the enterprise approach change. Departments such as IT, HR, sales, and marketing have all experienced the need for change that harmoniously aligns people, processes, data, and technology. The main strategy that has enabled this change has been the centralization of work.

Traditionally, only transactional roles have been centralized and offshored, but organizations are moving up the value chain to compliance and, eventually, decision-making as technology enables it.

Within the area of global statutory reporting, there has been a push over the last five years for organizations to centralize their accounting compliance functions through shared service centers or global business service offerings (people who...

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