Caseware – Championing Strategic Thinking
Caseware is bringing a fresh outlook to the financial reporting sector, completely changing the way it does business.
Caseware considers itself to be the technological leader in the audit and financial reporting solutions sector, providing robust solutions for businesses, corporations, and even governments.
“We’ve had half a million customers in 130 countries, and have helped them work efficiently, collectively, and more productively to drive transformational change in the audit and assurance, financial reporting, tax space,” says David Osborne, CEO of Caseware. “We enable professionals to see not only what the data reveals in audits, but why it reveals it. Our customers, like our staff, are strategic thinkers and problem solvers, and we are helping them connect better with clients.”
Caseware was founded in Canada in 1988, quickly establishing a name for itself, but talking to Osborne today it is clear that the industry is evolving, and Osborne has a clear vision for the future.
“This isn’t an old boys club with desktop software billing clients as much as we want and moving on,” Osborne says. “Right now, it is more open and inclusive, more accountable on factors like ESG, and more productive. Audit firms are saying ‘I do not want to spend this much money; you need to do more with less.’ For audit firms to be more productive they have to be strategic thinkers and problem solvers. They need to be more connected to their clients and appreciate the growing value of relationships. That is where the industry is moving.”
It is an approach that requires a bold new skillset from Caseware’s people, and fortunately, a new generation is providing just that.
“People in the industry enjoy solving problems. That was not always the case before. They are building trust. That was not always the case. And they truly believe their efforts help the economy and society,” Osborne explains. “We are trying to drive this transformation by being robust, analytical, thoughtful, and designing collaborative tools. The industry before was functional, only talking about the quality of the software. We are now trying to be more experiential, global, and transformative.”
Caseware today is the only end-to-end technology company in the financial and auditing space that really is truly global, allowing multinational corporations to have partners around the world.
“Tax and auditing are very different in, say, Germany, versus Netherlands, or the UK, so we must think about how local compliance can change and created on top of our platform around the world. We want to always ensure multinationals can use one product globally for their office. They should have exactly what product they need when they need it.”
“The market is evolving at a rapid pace. Innovation is increasingly becoming essential to both businesses and customers, who demand and deserve more than ever before.”
“We invest heavily in Research & Development, as we’re building better, more expansive cloud solutions all the time. Historically, auditing software was desktop-based, but now, it’s all moving to the cloud.”
“A big part of our innovation strategy is being nimble and adaptive. We’ve acquired several companies this year, have hired more than 250 people and have an ambitious product roadmap. We’re listening to our global customers and innovating as quickly as possible to meet their needs in through best-in-class products that make their jobs and lives easier.”
Osborne says. “We’re private equity backed, which means we are still fairly nimble and can adapt quicker.”
A New Generation
As Osborne points out, the industry is going through a period of transformation.
“I think these are unprece-dented times, and our industry is changing dramatically. 30, 20, even 10 years ago, the people and the processes were vastly different than they are today. The needs of clients are changing. Our clients need to do more with less, and we need to help them do that,” Osborne observes.
As the industry undergoes this transformation, the biggest challenge becomes finding fresh talent that can meet the demands of the modern industry as it evolves.
“Our industry is at an inflection point, as we’re on the brink of transformation. At the same time, between the great resignation and a competitive job market, it’s a war for talent. Finding exceptional talent is always challenging, but today more than ever.
We have many different programs to help recruit and retain employees. Hiring people early in their careers with great potential is something for which I’m extremely passionate, as I’ve been fortunate to be in stretch roles for myself and was grateful for the opportunity; I’ve also hired many people over the years and watched them grow and succeed. For more junior to mid-level roles, we offer a bootcamp-type experience where you’re immersed into Caseware and also have a great comradery with your colleagues hired at similar times. We spend a great deal of time onboarding, training and launching their careers.”
Solutions providers like Caseware cannot respond to the changing industry by simply charging audit firms more money, so they need to work smarter, not harder, finding greater efficiencies through innovation.
“We also make sure to tap into young, early-in career talent from all the great schools. We were the number one hirer from the University of Toronto a couple of years ago. We are having a University Day soon inviting students from across Ontario. We are hiring earlier in career talent & investing heavily in not just our industry but technology as well.”
Head in the Cloud
While Osborne tells us about changes in attitude and approach around Caseware’s work, a lot of these changes originate with one simple shift- taking auditing software from a single, desktop computer-based location, to a widely accessible and flexible cloud-based solution.
“There is a way of viewing our work as functional,” Osborne says. “That means talking about quality, efficiency, reliability, and simplicity. I am tired of the industry talking like that because those are table stakes. They should be a given. Of course, it has to be good quality software, but there are other components.”
The first of these other criteria is the experiential criteria. Good software needs to be accompanied by training, knowledge, customer support, and a global reach. This is where Caseware excels. But from there, Caseware is working to truly transform the industry.
“That means professional empowerment, strategic collaboration, examining the economic and social impact of the way we do business,” Osborne explains.
Cloud technology provides the leverage to make that happen.
“It allows clients to be more transformational and do more with less. You have to have an analytical platform,” Osborne says. “Cloud is about collaboration and having better collaborative tools allows for better relationships. That is what we are trying to accomplish.”
To accomplish that transformation, Osborne’s plans include organic growth and acquisition, shifting the company from an indirect route to market relying on distributors, towards acquiring those distributors to give Caseware a direct relationship with its customers.
“The industry is changing. It is transforming and we are at the heart of helping to drive that transformation. We not only offer fast and responsive software but a new perspective, better insights, and better questions. We are working more productively, leaving our clients feeling more fulfilled,” Osborne says. “That is what we are trying to accomplish. We are driving that change and nobody else is doing it.”