Morningstar Invests in Automating Accounts Receivable Management

Morningstar, Inc., is a leading provider of independent investment research in more than two dozen countries across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company’s products and services are geared toward individual investors, financial advisors, asset managers, retirement plan providers and sponsors, and institutional investors in the debt and private capital markets. In addition, Morningstar provides data and research insights on a range of investment offerings, including managed investment products, public companies, private capital markets, debt securities, and real-time global market data.

With almost 10,000 customers around the world, Morningstar needed an accounts receivable solution that can serve its global needs. The company uses Credit Intelligence from D&B Finance Analytics to help assess its clients’ financial health, including managing credit risk, and it finds the D&B Viability Rating® particularly insightful. Morningstar also uses the Receivables Intelligence application of D&B Finance Analytics to automate collections, which has led to improved operational efficiency. Both Dun & Bradstreet solutions are integrated into Morningstar’s Oracle ERP for a unified accounts receivable solution that supports the credit to collections processes.

“While we have many reputable clients in the financial services industry, it’s still important to assess financial risk and long-term viability,” said Rachel Hancock, the A/R collections supervisor at Morningstar.

Improving the Collections Process

At Morningstar, billing and cash applications are managed in Oracle. However, like many companies, Morningstar still maintained a rather manual collections process. The team of two relied on a spreadsheet to track aging accounts, and one accounts receivable specialist spent much of their time emailing customers one by one. With a shared service center overseas, it was important to find a solution that was easy to implement and easy to integrate with Oracle.

“Compared with the complexities associated with some of our other enterprise solutions, such as our CRM and ERP, Receivables Intelligence was much easier to implement, and this is an easy tool to train new employees on,” Hancock said.

Receivables Intelligence has helped streamline the company’s collections process, and the automated reminder emails have been particularly helpful to standardize the process globally. During implementation, the Dun & Bradstreet team worked with Morningstar to create tailored workflows that made the most sense for each business unit and subsidiary in each country – and each customer. For example, in one country a reminder email is sent five days after the payment due date is missed; in another country, the reminder email is sent sooner. Certain key clients that require a more personal touch do not receive an automated reminder email at the beginning of collections process.

Moving from Manual to Automated Processes

Moving from a manual process with spreadsheets to one system driven by automation has been a time saver for Hancock.

“The automated workflows in Receivables Intelligence have gotten us away from manual work. We rely heavily on the automated reminders – especially with our shared service center. This process has really helped us, given there is really no way to manually follow up on 3,000 invoices,” she said.

Receivables Intelligence has even helped with cash forecasting. The platform has extensive reporting and readily accessible dashboards that include cash flow projections, and Hancock can also easily see what payments are promised daily. She shares this information with executives who need to anticipate cash flow. The system has the flexibility to build out long-term cash projections using payment data history. Hancock tags doubtful invoices so that she can easily access the information when executives request her reserve forecasting. This, too, saves her a lot of time.

Result? 75% Reduction in % of Dollars 120+ Days Past Due

In addition, the prioritized collections and tailored workflows have helped Morningstar greatly reduce their percentage of days past due.

“Prior to implementing Receivables Intelligence, our 120+ days past due was 20% of our aging file. Today our 120+ days past due is under 5%, and I credit the continuous improvements to the automated workflows that Receivables Intelligence provides,” Hancock said.