Top 10 IPO Readiness Tips You Need to Know for Today’s Market

You only get one chance at an initial public offering. Learn what separates a successful IPO from the rest in this 30-minute on-demand webinar from Workiva.

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Workiva has partnered with Carolyn Saacke from the NYSE and Benjamin Cohen of Latham & Watkins LLP to bring you best practices for going public. Listen in as they discuss the top 10 IPO readiness tips that finance and legal executives should be aware of in today’s marketplace.

Duration: 30 minutes

Key takeaways:

  • Understand operational details critical to preparing for an IPO
  • Develop a checklist for key steps needed to successfully go from a private company to a public company
  • Identify and address the current regulatory environment and IPO trends

 

View On-Demand Webinar Here >>

Accounting Today: Four ways pre-IPO companies can get their financial house in order

This article was originally published on Accounting Today on July 31, 2019. Read it here >>

UBER

Uber’s first full quarterly report came with surprising disclosures that the IRS and other tax authorities are investigating its transfer pricing arrangements from 2013 and 2014. That’s the sort of landmine no company needs, especially with the extra scrutiny a newly public company inevitably gets.

Transfer pricing is seen by many industry experts “as a relatively risky strategy” and has even gotten giants like Apple and Amazon in trouble. Given the potential benefits, however, it’s not surprising that Uber would want to push the envelope. That said, cutting $141 million of unrealized tax benefits suggests they were doing more than pushing the envelope.

We don’t know exactly what happened in Uber’s case, but a fair number of nonpublic companies have shoddy or nonexistent processes around sign-offs and reviews, and as a result have plenty of skeletons hiding in their financials. That’s why it’s essential for companies contemplating going public to get their financial house in order well before that bell is rung.

For companies dealing with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s requirements for the first time, the process can be time consuming, burdensome and result in significant inaccuracies, which have disastrous consequences. Early planning for an IPO is essential for avoiding many of those unpleasant surprises, and also helps with establishing best practices for future reporting and compliance.

Based on my experience as an auditor at Ernst & Young, and working with CFOs and controllers of companies at all stages of the IPO process, here are four tips to help your finance team make a smoother journey.

1. Get ahead of it. Twelve to 36 months before a planned IPO, companies need to modernize, automate their accounting systems, and keep an eye on compliance. Going public increases the need for speed and accuracy in your accounting — especially in your closing process — and outdated and inflexible financial systems, coupled with manual processes, make it nearly impossible to hit all those hard deadlines. Older systems may lack the necessary capabilities required for consistent, accurate financial reporting. Those older systems may make scaling your finance operations post-IPO nearly impossible.

Besides updating your current system, you may need to invest in other specialty software to help with the accounting and additional voluminous disclosures needed for the latest FASB and IFRS standards for lease accounting and revenue recognition. Excel alone just won’t cut it anymore.

You’ll need a team, technology and processes that ensure the delivery of accurate financials every quarter. According to a guide from Ernst & Young, companies should “begin the IPO readiness process early enough so that your pre-listed company acts and operates like a public company at least a year before the IPO.” With a long enough runway, you can perform trial runs of investor roadshows, IR presentations and “file without filing.” This may uncover essential issues you’ll need to resolve before you go public.

Since your company likely has smaller accounting and finance teams than most public companies, that additional reporting burden will be shared across fewer people. This makes automation a must and provides an incentive to really look at all your processes and eliminate the bottlenecks.

2. Avoid triggering red flags. There are several areas that have historically raised red flags with the Securities Exchange Commission, including company reorganizations done partially for creating advantageous tax positions. Uber’s difficulties with transfer pricing, and Walmart’s recent settlement with the SEC after years of investigations into their policies regarding international “facilitation payments” (aka bribes), show that there are a lot of ways to get in trouble with the SEC.

According to a midyear report on SEC enforcement activities so far in 2019, the second most common problem was Issuer Reporting and Disclosure, an area that was number three for all of 2018. Issuer reporting and disclosure problems include things like revenue recognition, faulty valuations and impairment decisions, missing or inadequate disclosures, and good old fashioned misleading of investors, which got Elon Musk of Tesla and Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos in trouble.

3. Stay on top of key performance indicators. Pre-IPO companies have to disclose information about past business performance to help provide investor guidance on future performance. The KPIs you select should adhere to a consistent and accurate model. Ernst & Young recommends outperforming competitors: “Investors base their IPO investment decisions on financial factors, especially debt to equity ratios, EPS growth, sales growth, ROE, profitability and EBITDA growth.”

For tech companies, research from McKinsey shows that top-line increases are more important than net profit. Revenue growth represents the momentum of a company, and while other metrics — users, subscribers, bookings, merchandise value — corroborate revenue growth, revenue is especially important to investors because the other metrics aren’t audited.

Investors also like to see predictable revenue streams. This means that any changes to a business model may need time to develop a stable, recurring revenue stream.

Another thing that investors look for is enough cash on the balance sheet to fund the company to the breakeven point. If the company isn’t yet profitable, showing a clear path to profitability is always a plus.

4. Accuracy of quarterly reporting and audits. Companies that aren’t spending enough time on evaluating risks may find their organizations subject to issuing a restatement of their quarterly results, or if they’re private, they may have their IPOs delayed in order to get their financial house in order. Uber is likely going to have to do some restatements once the IRS gets through with them, if not before.

Mistakes or errors can kill a CFO’s career, or even worse, send him or her to jail. That’s what happened to the former CFO of Bankrate, who was sentenced to a decade in jail for playing fast and loose with expense accruals. Even saying something in public that isn’t quite accurate can get you in trouble, as Elon Musk and Tesla found out the hard way, to the tune of $40 million in penalties. Keep in mind that the SEC has a zero tolerance level for errors or missing information.

Adopting a cloud-based ERP system is a start. Automating many processes is essential so you can get away from error-prone manual processes and get the books closed faster. Saving time by leveraging technology also gives you time to think strategically about those numbers.

Getting to a successful IPO is an amazing milestone, and something that only a tiny fraction of startups ultimately achieve. Now maybe it’s because I’m an accounting geek, but I think the best part of making a company IPO-ready is the opportunity to build a best-of-breed, lean and efficient accounting function that gives your company a strategic advantage in insights and business intelligence.

Author Michael Whitmire, CPA, is co-founder and chief executive officer at Los Angeles-based FloQast, Inc., a developer of accounting close management software.

Workiva Named One of Fast Company’s 50 Best Workplaces for Innovators

Workiva joins Amazon, Chobani, L’Oréal, Morgan Stanley, P&G and More on Inaugural List

Fast Company

AMES, Iowa – August 5, 2019 – Workiva (NYSE:WK), the leading cloud provider of connected reporting and compliance solutions, today announces it has been named one of the Best Workplaces for Innovators by Fast Company. The inaugural list honors businesses and organizations that demonstrate a deep commitment to encouraging innovation at all levels.

Developed in collaboration with Accenture, the 2019 Best Workplaces for Innovators showcases 50 winners from a variety of industries, including biotech, consumer packaged goods, financial services, cybersecurity and engineering. Working together, Fast Company editors and Accenture researchers scored all 362 applications, and a panel of eight eminent judges reviewed and endorsed the top 50 companies. The 2019 awards feature workplaces from around the world, and eight of the honorees are based outside the U.S.

“We are proud to be chosen for this prestigious list, which includes some of the most successful companies in the world,” said Marty Vanderploeg, CEO of Workiva. “At Workiva we are innovative in everything we do, from how we build our software to how we serve our customers to how we treat our employees. Our innovation will continue to be a driving force in data transparency and trusted, connected reporting throughout the world.”

“Other titles catalog perquisites and benefits. Fast Company seeks to highlight workplaces that attract and retain the best talent by creating environments where employees are empowered to put forth bold ideas, engage in radical experiments, and even fail, in the name of innovation,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company.

To see the complete list, go to: https://www.fastcompany.com/best-workplaces-for-innovators/2019.

Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators issue (August 2019) is available online now, and the print issue will be on newsstands beginning August 13. Join the Best Workplaces for Innovators conversation using #FCBestWorkplaces.

About Fast Company

Fast Company is one of the world’s leading business media brands, with an editorial focus on innovation with deep emphasis on creativity, technology, social impact, leadership, and design. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication Inc., and can be found online at fastcompany.com.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 482,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at http://www.accenture.com.

About Workiva

Workiva, the leading cloud provider of connected reporting and compliance solutions, is used by thousands of enterprises across 180 countries, including more than 75 percent of Fortune 500® companies, and by government agencies. Our customers have linked over five billion data elements to trust their data, reduce risk and save time.

Read full press release here >>

FAST Act and iXBRL Guidance for Filers

Workiva.com — The SEC recently introduced FAST Act amendments that will soon affect filers. To ensure you are prepared for the new tagging requirements, we have put together the following resources. Be sure to bookmark this page for easy reference in the future.

Large Accelerated Filers and Inline XBRL (iXBRL) Filers

Who is affected?
The first phase affects US GAAP Large Accelerated Filers and all early iXBRLTM adopters, regardless of their filing category, with fiscal periods on or after June 15, 2019.

Foreign Private Issuers (FPIs) are required to comply if they are filing under US GAAP based on their filing category.ixbrl

What forms are included?
Forms impacted are 10-Q, 10-K, 8-K, and 20-F and 40-F as annual reports—this includes amendments, transitional filings, and the 8-K form variants.

When do the cover page requirements take effect?
Domestic filers are required to start iXBRL compliance with Form 10-Q; therefore, Form 8-K will become subject to Cover Page Data filing requirements only after the first Form 10-Q for a fiscal period ending on or after June 15, 2019, is filed.

Overall, compliance dates are as follows: A three-year phase-in beginning with reports for fiscal periods ending on or after the following dates:

  • Large accelerated filers—June 15, 2019
  • Accelerated filers—June 15, 2020
  • All other filers (including IFRS filers)—June 15, 2021

For assistance with Form 8-K Cover Page tagging

  • If you have purchased iXBRL Migration services, the Workiva Professional Services team will assist you with tagging the Cover Page of one (1) Form 8-K document as a template. Please reach out to your Customer Success Manager (CSM) or Professional Services Manager (PSM) to discuss this service.
  • If you have NOT purchased iXBRL Migration services, you may purchase an iXBRL 8-K Cover Page Template Tagging service and the Workiva Professional Services team will assist you with tagging the Cover Page of one (1) Form 8-K document as a template. Please reach out to the Workiva XBRL Sales team for further information.

For assistance with Forms 10-Q, 10-K, 20-F, or 40-F Cover Page tagging

If you have purchased iXBRL Migration services, the Workiva Professional Services team will assist you with tagging the Cover Page of one (1) Form listed above for each iXBRL Migration service purchased.

If you are under a Full Service or XBRL Complete contract and have migrated your document to iXBRL on your own, your PSM will assist you with tagging the remaining items on the Cover Page of your document. Please reach out to your PSM for assistance.
If you have NOT migrated to iXBRL, please consider purchasing iXBRL Migration Services. Reach out to the Workiva XBRL Sales team for further information.

Taxonomy Update Information

The SEC upgraded to EDGAR Release 19.2 to support the 2019 DEI Taxonomy, which includes a number of new DEI elements required for Cover Page Data. Updated versions of 2018 US-GAAP and 2019 US-GAAP Taxonomies will be created in Wdesk to incorporate the new 2019 DEI Taxonomy.

  • If you utilize iXBRL and have purchased a standalone Taxonomy Migration service or are on an existing XBRL Complete service, the Workiva Professional Services team will migrate your upcoming filing to the updated version of US GAAP taxonomy that incorporates the new 2019 DEI Taxonomy.
  • If you have not purchased a Taxonomy Migration service and would like assistance from the Workiva Professional Services team, please reach out to the Workiva XBRL Sales team for next steps.

Read full original post here >>

More Awards for Workiva

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The accolades for Workiva keep pouring in. In addition to other 2019 awards like Fortune’s Best Large Workplaces in Chicago and Best-In-Class Cloud Service Provider at the UK Cloud Awards, Workiva can add a couple more pieces of hardware to the trophy case:

Computerworld magazine named Workiva one of the Best Places to Work in IT

Workiva Wins Technical Innovation of the Year Award and the People’s Choice Award for Big Data Solutions from the American Business Awards

Workiva Wins Three More Stevie Awards

Read more about Workiva’s awards and company updates from the Workiva Newsroom here