SAS® Enables Finnish Insurer
Tapiola Group Improves Financial Reporting and Fine Tunes Performance
Tapiola Group, Finland's third largest insurance company, offers services that cover life, pension and corporate insurance, together with asset and fund management. The group's underlying principle is to "produce surplus value to the owners" – which means to their policyholders. Using a combination of SAS Financial Management Solutions and SAS Strategic Performance Management, Tapiola can now achieve its goal of creating value more effectively while working towards meeting stringent new standards for accounting.
"We face various issues in our business," explains Markku Paakkanen, Financial Manager at Tapiola Group. "These include globalization, managing our company's continued growth and dealing with structural changes in the financial services sector." Another example is preparing for the stringent reporting structures as detailed in the European Union regulations for International Accounting Standards (IAS).
New accounting standards
"One problem is that an IAS standard for insurers doesn't exist yet, although it will probably be in place by 2004," says Paakkanen. "The real challenge is that IAS rules differ significantly from the Finnish system; therefore enormous changes are required in terms of the content of reports. We'll also have to produce reports more rapidly and include more extensive information. SAS Financial Management Solutions are helping us to adapt to IAS demands.
"We have a long-standing relationship with SAS and have used SAS solutions for many years, and we enjoy good personal relationships with the people at SAS Finland. We decided on SAS Financial Management Solutions after concluding that SAS covered our needs most extensively."
Faster and more accurate reporting
He believes that the structure of the SAS solution and its flexibility are key. "Reports can be assembled quickly and efficiently based on certain variables. We've reduced the time required to close our books by over 30 percent, and we can produce quarterly reports fast. Although we're not listed on the stock exchange and aren't required to produce quarterly reports, we want to be competitive with the larger insurers in the marketplace who do publish them.
"We provide around 200 single reports, and most users receive summaries. With our 'standard' users, I'd say the marketing reports are the most important. We can produce these in less than 24 hours and post them on the intranet. Before SAS, this wasn't possible. We can additionally now deliver monthly reports directly to everyone's desktops. We've reduced reporting time by several days, cut out the paperwork and can provide reports graphically." Several reports feature more detailed information, and can run to 30 pages. "Our finance people use SAS to drill-in to single items and explore them further, and the figures are now linked so you can easily find the sources of an aggregated figure. People like this multidimensional capability. Further, SAS' flexibility means that figures are easier to change if necessary," says Paakkanen.
"We've been using SAS for over 10 years, so obviously we're happy with the company," adds Kalervo Rinne, IT Manager at Tapiola Group. "SAS Financial Management Solutions fits well into our system landscape. In fact, it's fair to say that SAS is our system landscape. The main benefit of using SAS is that we can trust our reports now. We create them fast, and provide easy access - our salespeople are heavy users. We also use SAS for consolidation, drawing on information from many different systems to provide figures for the whole group. As for the balanced scorecard, it's widely used and will be deployed company-wide in the future."
Linking strategy with activity
"If you imagine Tapiola as a super-tanker that cannot change direction very rapidly, with SAS Strategic Performance Management we have a steering wheel that, if somebody turns it, something really happens – strategy and activity are linked." The main areas covered by Tapiola's 250 scorecards are Client, Internal Processes, Economic and Market Position, and Personnel. Each perspective has two sets of measures with corresponding goals. "We update how performance relates to the key indicators on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis," says Paakkanen. "The more updates we make, the more 'alive' the scorecard is. "It was a natural extension to choose SAS Strategic Performance Management when starting to work on balanced scorecards. We did a very detailed competitor comparison, but we chose the SAS solution because it was easier to use and it had the scope we need for further development, it can handle larger amounts of data and, perhaps most importantly, because our data is already being handled in SAS systems. We therefore decided that we also wanted a SAS-based balanced scorecard, as we could then build the links we needed more easily than if we brought in some other vendor's software. Lastly, the SAS Strategic Performance Management solution is simply more advanced than the others and, of course, our users already had been using SAS for a long time."
Bottom line benefits
"The speed of reporting at management level has also influenced decision making. For example, quarterly competitor analyses mean we can compare ourselves to other insurers in the market. We can see trends in our activity earlier and take action: how premiums or costs are developing, the profitability of different branches, and so on. This is a big advantage. We can also provide information to the market even though we're not a public company, which helps to support our company image and brand. SAS supports our tradition of being open and transparent."
Concludes Rinne, "We are very happy with the SAS solutions. SAS is the best when it comes to data processing. We will for sure use SAS more in the future."
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.
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To improve financial reporting in a complex environment and focus on performance across the business.
SAS Financial Management Solutions and SAS Strategic Performance Management provide faster and more accurate financial reporting, improved management decision making, and enhanced strategic management of the business.
“ SAS Financial Management Solutions are helping us to adapt to IAS demands. We've reduced the time required to close our books by over 30 percent, and we can produce quarterly reports fast. ”