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5 Accounts Payable Trends to Watch in 2023

Niek Dekker
4 Min

The world of Accounts Payable (AP) continues to transform.

Over the coming 12 months, we can expect to see many changes in the ways AP departments function. Advances in technology and new regulatory environments will drive a lot of this change, but so will the need for stronger security.

Take a deep dive into the five accounts payable trends to watch in 2023.

5 Accounts Payable Trends

1. Automation

With staffing constraints still a major problem for many AP departments, automation will continue to gather momentum in 2023.

AP departments that automate routine tasks are finding that they can increase productivity and performance levels. Automation also allows AP staff to focus on the more interesting and engaging aspects of their work, including spending more time solving complex problems, as explained by Mary Italiano from Eftsure.

2. Outsourcing

AP teams are under increased pressure to do more with less. This is leading many organisations to look for opportunities to augment their internal capabilities with external resources, rather than simply hiring more AP staff.

As a result, hybrid insource-outsource AP models are becoming more popular.

They allow an organisation to retain the most important, high-risk aspects of AP. At the same time, many of the more mundane tasks can be handled by external personnel, often for a fraction of the cost.

Of course, outsourcing comes with its own unique set of challenges. Ensuring external personnel perform their duties according to your own methods and standards requires ongoing vigilance. An organisation could also be exposing itself to a greater risk of error or fraud if it doesn’t have sufficiently robust controls in place.

Learn more about the implications of outsourcing your AP function.


3. Compliance Requirements

In 2023, expect to see the Australian Government introduce new privacy rules that impose additional compliance requirements on AP teams.

In many cases, an accounting department holds extensive personal information belonging to customers, staff, suppliers and others. This information could include names, addresses, dates of birth, emails, phone numbers and even banking data.

All this data is highly valuable to cyber-criminals. They are out in force trying to steal this information so they can sell it on the dark web – they may even try to extort money out of your organisation.

To ensure organisations are taking appropriate steps to protect this kind of personal information, the Australian Government is introducing a range of new penalties for serious or repeated privacy breaches.

The new rules could see companies facing the following penalties:

  • Fines worth up to $50 million
  • Three times the value of any benefit obtained from the breach, or
  • 30% of adjusted turnover during the relevant period

With new privacy rules, as well as a host of other Government and industry standards, AP leaders will have their work cut out for them ensuring they meet all necessary compliance requirements in 2023.

This loops in with our first prediction – automation – since AP leaders will increasingly need technology-enabled solutions that help their teams do more with less.

4. Expectations For CFOs

Under the Corporations Act, directors are expected to act in the best interests of their company, which includes mitigating any risks – including cyber risk – the company can reasonably expect to face.

A new ruling by ASIC makes it clear that these expectations also extend to a company’s senior executives, such as the CFO.

In the recent ASIC action against Star casino, ASIC chairman Joe Longo was explicit in stating that senior executives, who may not be directors, are also bound by the provisions of the Corporations Act.

Joe Longo, ASIC chairman, explains:

“Senior executives have a responsibility to do the right thing as well, and although they may not formally be directors, under the Corporations Act, they can be an officer. And an officer is someone who participates in making decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of the corporation. So, even if you’re not a director, if you happen to be the in-house lawyer, or the chief financial officer, the duties of care and diligence on you are the same as, or substantially the same as, that of the director.”
Joe Longo
ASIC chairman

While the Star case specifically related to a failure to mitigate the risks of money laundering, previous ASIC actions demonstrate that the regulator also considers cybersecurity risks important.

Senior executives, particularly the CFO, will need to ensure they’re addressing foreseeable and observable risks, like cyber-crime or fraud risks. Otherwise, they may find themselves in hot water with ASIC just like any company director. This may spur CFOs to take further steps to address cyber risks, particularly in their AP departments.

5. New Cyber-Crime Approaches

Cyber-crime rates have never been higher.

Boards, customers, suppliers and regulators all expect organisations to implement measures that mitigate the risks of cyber-crime. And with so many financially motivated cyber-crimes impacting Australian businesses, the AP team is finding itself at the heart of the challenge.

AP staff will need ongoing training and the right tools to ensure they’re able to identify and thwart increasingly sophisticated cyber-criminals.

Your AP team will need to be on the lookout for tactics like phishing, social engineering and Business Email Compromise scams.

Leaving your AP team to contend with all these risks isn’t fair. It imposes unnecessary stress on individuals who were never trained to prevent cyber-criminals, as well as undermining the efficiency of your AP department. Organisations will need to step up to the plate and ensure that AP staff are properly equipped to strengthen their security posture – and this needs to happen as part of a broader cyber-crime strategy, ideally driven by the CFO.

These are five of the biggest trends likely to impact AP departments over the coming year.

Follow Eftsure to ensure you keep up to date with all the latest AP news and trends.

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