Publishing graphs to present a true and fair view

Graphs are designed to help readers understand what’s going on at a glance. They serve a variety of purposes in reports, statistics and presentations. In a report they illustrate what’s being talked about. In statistics they underscore the details, and in presentations they’re used as a simple and coherent way of getting complex information across. The problem is that you often come across graphs that are inappropriate or even wrong.

The test is quick and easy: Enter the term “2016 annual report” (or “Geschäftsbericht 2016”) in your search engine, download one of the many PDFs that are listed, look through it for graphics, and read the accompanying paragraph of text. The findings are sobering. The publicly accessible annual report of a large cooperative in Switzerland includes the following chart:

At first glance everything seems in order. Net proceeds from sales of goods and services and gross profit are increasing, and are presented graphically. Dark blue is used to indicate the year under review. There’s a brief text introducing the graphs and explaining how the result came about.

Only a closer look through the lens of the International Business Communication Standards (IBCS) reveals that the graphics need correcting. They fail to present the facts accurately in various respects.

  • The figures shown above the bars in the right-hand chart indicate a 19.51% increase in gross profit since 2012. The bars themselves, however, show an increase of around 137%. You can prove this optical misrepresentation by measuring the bars: while CHF 99.4 million in 2012 are represented with 2.4 cm, CHF 118.8 million in 2016 take up a whole 5.7 cm.
  • The scales for the graphs for net proceeds and gross profits aren’t identical.
  • On neither graph does the y-axis begin at zero.

Correcting the charts in accordance with IBCS, a completely different picture emerges.

In these examples the representation errors have been corrected. The following year can likewise be represented in accordance with IBCS (a white bar with a black frame). A dividing line gives a clear visual indication that the future development has to be differentiated from current or previous developments. The correct relationships are clearly visible.

Essentially IBCS requires that the true and fair view principle also be applied to business graphics. This means that colours, symbols and other graphical elements must have a meaning. The representation must be formally correct so that the reader does not draw any wrong conclusions.

IBCS defines a visual language and enables appropriate visual and verbal communication. It also ensures that the same facts are presented uniformly all over the world. For example, the prior year is always grey, the current year black, and forecasts hatched or shaded.

We’d be glad to show you how to design business graphics correctly for meaningful communication.

Contact Us

Michael Gniffke
Leader Business Software Integration, PwC Switzerland
+41 58 792 47 74

Enterprise Performance Management (Budgeting, Planning and Reporting)

 Leverage Innovations and fix the Basics

The latest edition of PwC’s Finance Effectiveness Benchmark report shows that many finance functions are trailing in their adoption of latest technologies, and in most businesses finance struggles to find the optimal model to deliver real commercial impact effectively.

PwC Study: Stepping up: How finance functions are transforming to drive business results

How to adapt to the rapidly succeeding technological breakthroughs and how to treat them as opportunities?

How to navigate best through the turbulence resp. how helps an up-to-date enterprise performance management (EPM)?

We will discuss latest trends and developments. We will do so together with our clients and expert network to share real experience and challenges:

  • Key note speech: “Top Trends in Business Intelligence and Analytics 2018”, Herbert Stauffer, CEO Business Application Research Center (BARC), Switzerland
  • Key findings of the latest PwC report: “Stepping up: How finance functions are transforming to drive results”
  • Case 1: EPM at UEFA, Fabian Egli, Head of Corporate Controlling
  • Case 2: Driver-based Planning at an international Pharma Company (Tillotts Pharma), Oliver Isch, Corporate Controlling

The floor will be open for any questions, comments and contributions from your side. Following, you will have the opportunity to explore the potential of leading technological solutions and connect with people in person during an apéro.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to this event

Register online

Date and Time

9th November 2017
Start of the event will be 16:30


Mariott Courtyard
Max-Bill-Platz 19
8050 Zürich


Jana Moser
Tel.+41 58 792 4360


Get on the safe side: train your hotel staff to prevent payment card fraud

Any company can be targeted by payment card fraud. Luckily, there are effective ways of substantially reducing the risk. Most incidents have a common denominator: human behaviour. So the most effective action you can take to reduce the risk is training your staff in best practice.

This has prompted us to team up with Lobster Ink, the leading online education company specialising in the hospitality industry, to develop an online training course in PCI DSS Awareness for the hospitality industry. It’s a highly focused programme for end-users that will help your staff understand and apply the principles of PCI compliance.

Payment card fraud is a massive and growing problem that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The consequences for the businesses affected are severe, ranging from penalties and disruption of daily operations to reputation damage and lost customers.

The scale of the problem is also extreme: payment card fraud resulted in losses of USD 21.8 billion in 2015, and a Nilson Report predicts that this will rise to more than USD 31 billion by 2020. Verizon’s ten year Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance investigation has shown that no company was fully PCI DSS compliant at the time of the breach.

As the pace of technological development accelerates, especially in
payment systems, the risk of security breaches is higher than ever.

How can you protect your business?

With PwC’s expertise in cybercrime and compliance and Lobster Ink’s experience in innovative training, your staff will soon be up to speed with best practices. We’ve designed individual courses for customer-facing staff, back-of-house staff and management to ensure every employee is aware of the risks and mitigating actions relevant to their particular level and department.

The course will help you and your employees to identify and minimise the risks associated with handling sensitive payment card data. They’ll also learn about best practice for reducing risk to acceptable levels and systematically protecting your customer’s data.

Your employees are the first line of defence. Get them trained today!

Contact us to find out more about PCI DSS Awareness:

Nicolas Mayer
PwC Partner & Global Industry Leader
Lodging & Tourism Clients

or via

Lobster Ink

“Many people aren’t aware of the risks of using credit cards. This course was so useful for all of us – to protect our guests and ourselves.” – existing PCI DSS learner

Anaplan vs. Excel: the fight for the financial modelling crown

After more than 30 years of good and loyal service, the hegemony of Excel in the financial modelling space is facing its most serious challenge yet. Anaplan – a leading cloud-based forecasting tools in two of Gartner’s Quadrants – has already won many famous clients, seeing its revenue increase by a whopping 75% in 2016. In the first quarter of 2017 PwC Switzerland and Anaplan joined forces, signing a collaboration agreement. After reigning supreme for decades, could Excel lose its crown to Anaplan?

When do you know you pushed Excel too far?

With more than 650 million customers around the world, Excel is used for an incredibly wide spectrum of purposes. However, many financial analysts familiar with complex models spanning over numerous worksheets will be surprised to know that only 4% of Excel workbooks created globally contain formulae.

In fact, few professionals push Excel as far as financial modellers do and it’s no secret that Excel sometimes struggles to cope. We’ve all heard horror spreadsheet stories involving input files sent out to tens of controllers (then having to be manually consolidated), errors in strategic models or templates, the struggle of reporting analysts to get their data in the right format or more generally, the dreadful amount of time spreadsheet management requires.

From a modelling perspective, one of Excel’s most significant shortcomings is its scalability. Imagine a retailer developing a business plan model to forecast the performance of its 50 stores against their budgets. This simple example would already translate into a rather large Excel model including more than 150 positions (50 stores times 3 versions for the budget, the actuals and the variance). And once the model is built, changing the calculation logic of any given line item can soon turn into a nightmare, as it will need to be amended for every single store.

Leaving the constraints of Excel’s two-dimensional world and moving to Anaplan’s cube, building and maintaining the same model becomes a walk in the park. Since stores and versions can be defined as dimensions, profit and loss calculations need to be entered once only. The result is a single profit and loss account, which can be viewed for any given store (or on a consolidated basis) and for any given version. Amending the calculations in the entire model is as easy as updating a single Excel formula and is reflected throughout the whole model in real time. All that’s required to add a new store is typing its name in the store list, plus there’s no need to manually replicate and link the inputs or to adjust the consolidation and the outputs. Wait a minute, could this be the answer to spreadsheet chaos?

The cloud’s advantages

In addition to its scalability, Anaplan offers great advantages in a corporate environment. As it’s a cloud-based solution, input providers can fill out the assumptions fields directly in the master version, making Excel input sheets sent per email and manual consolidation redundant.

Moreover, Anaplan provides a single, real time source of truth as its connectors and import functions ensure that parameters are always up-to-date. Even better, the access rights can be tailored so that each user only sees the sections of the model relevant to them. So goodbye data security problems.

Finally, reporting analysts will love that Anaplan’s cube works like a giant pivot table, where switching dimensions and changing the way information is presented can be dusted in a matter of seconds.

Flexibility is king

But let’s not burry Excel just yet. It’s still got some very strong assets to play. To start with, Excel is readily available in most companies and many professionals are familiar with it. In fact, it’s the only programming language many people know. But the real key to Excel’s success in controlling divisions and the financial modelling space is its flexibility.

In the world of Corporate Performance Management though, Anaplan is arguably the most flexible tool available on the market. Similarly to Excel, Anaplan relies on formulae and users start from a blank page, offering an extensive range of applications, such as budgeting, supply chain management, compensation planning, … the list goes on.

A technology-agnostic approach to modelling

For the first time in 30 years, financial modellers and controllers do have a genuine alternative to Excel. To us, this marks the beginning of technology-agnostic forecasting, where we’re able to choose the best-suited tool to solve the problems our clients are facing.

When switching from Excel’s two dimensions to Anaplan’s n-dimensional world, utilising a tested modelling approach and applying clear design principles becomes even more crucial. Regardless of the chosen technology, we always rely on PwC’s Modelling Methodology – a structured project management process based on more than 15 years of experience – to translate complex situations into insightful financial models. Similarly, our Design Best Practices and Rules enable us to ensure that all our models are transparent, flexible and user-friendly.

So who deserves the modelling crown? In a business-as-usual environment, Anaplan’s many advantages, combined with its easily changeable model structure are a true revolution. But Excel still hits the mark as it is better suited to deal with the fast-changing conditions and the short timeframe associated with M&A transactions. As Excel certainly won’t give up, the fight goes on…


Marc Schmidli
Leader Valuation and Business Modelling
+41 58 792 1564

Maxence Lüthi
Valuation and Business Modelling
+41 58 792 1164

Webinar: Mastering the fast closing and off-invoice deduction

Beyond a traditional financial close, which typically needs a full accounting cycle with a group ERP supporting the data feeding and multiple manual exercises for group consolidation, a “flash” close provides swift support for the decision-making process, thus enhancing data quality and eliminating internal inefficiencies.

We will demonstrate how the closing process can be mastered with Tagetik natively integrated with one of the Akeron departmental tools, namely Akeron TP, for streamlined contract management by automatically processing accruals and providing a comprehensive check of the “off-invoice” for the business.

A state-of-the-art EPM solution for a smooth and fast-closing process.

Register online

Once you have registered, you will receive the WebEx access details. The WebEx will be recorded and we will email you a link to the recording after the event using the same details. There will be time for questions and answers with your speakers during the WebEx. Questions can also be sent in advance of the WebEx session to the following email address:


Alberto Della Santina
+41 58 792 4950

Management of cyber risks: FINMA introduces new guidelines for banks

Revised circular on operational risks is published

On 1 November 2016, FINMA published a revised version of circular 2008/21 “Operational risks – banks”. The updated circular’s Principle 4 (on technological infrastructure) includes requirements relating to the management of cyber risks. It applies to all banks, regardless of their size or supervisory category, and will enter into force as of 1 July 2017.

New requirements and guidelines regarding the management of cyber risks are set

Banks must formalise their cyber risk management strategy, including the definition of roles and responsibilities as well as of the processes to cover the following five dimensions:


Read more…



Reto Haeni
Cyber Security Leader
+41 79 345 01 24

Yan Borboën
Partner, Cyber Security
+41 79 580 73 53

Nicolas Vernaz
Leader Cyber Data Protection and Regulatory Compliance
PwC Digital Services
+41 79 419 43 30

The opportunities opened up by video and online identification

The digitisation of processes is a key issue for the Swiss financial industry. To create and elaborate the necessary regulatory framework, on 18 March this year FINMA issued Circular 2016/7 ‘Video and Online Identification’. We have written a series of blogs addressing the December 2015 draft circular, the opinions expressed in the public consultation, and the risks of implementing video and online identification. In this last blog we’ll compare the final circular published in March with the draft. We’ll also be taking a look at other countries and showing where their practice differs significantly from Switzerland’s. And finally we’ll look at the opportunities that video and online identification creates.

Since 1 January 2016 the revised Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance has been in force. This has enabled FINMA to take account of new technologies designed to assure an equivalent level of security in meeting the relevant due diligence requirements. FINMA also has to make this practice public. This is why it has published Circular 2016/7 ‘Video and Online Identification’, describing the due diligence requirements for intermediaries onboarding clients via digital channels.

Read more about the opportunities here.

Further blogs
Read more about the digitisation of processes in the Swiss financial industry and about other key developments in this field in our previous articles in our blog series on video and online identification.

If you´re interested in this topic or have any questions connected with it, please feel free to contact our experts:

Jens Probst
Director, Systems & Process
+41 58 792 29 59

Christian Hug
Senior Manager, Leader Information Governance
+41 58 792 23 66

Marco Schurtenberger
Manager, Cyber security & IT
+41 58 792 22 33

The security risks of video and online identification

The digitisation of processes is a core issue for the Swiss financial industry. To create and elaborate the necessary regulatory framework, in December 2015 FINMA issued a draft circular governing the video and online identification of clients. In the meantime the final version of the FINMA circular has been published. In our first blog at the beginning of February we presented the draft FINMA circular on video and online identification. In the second we looked at the opinions expressed in the public consultation. In this, our latest entry, we address the concrete challenges involved in video and online identification.

Since 1 January 2016 the revised Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance has been in force. This has enabled FINMA to take account of new technologies designed to assure the requisite level of security in meeting the relevant due diligence requirements. FINMA also has to make this practice public, and has accordingly published the FINMA circular 2016/7 on video and online identification on 17 March 2016. The circular describes the due diligence requirements for intermediaries onboarding clients via digital channels without gaps in the information process. This is an opportunity for the Swiss financial industry to put the digitisation of business processes into practice. Our aim is to show where the risks lie and advise on how to deal with them.

Read more about the security risks here.

Further blogs
Read more about the digitisation of processes in the Swiss financial industry and about other key developments in this field in the next articles in our blog series on video and online identification.

If you´re interested in this topic or have any questions connected with it, please feel free to contact our experts:

Jens Probst
Director, Systems & Process
+41 58 792 29 59

Christian Hug
Senior Manager, Leader Information Governance
+41 58 792 23 66

Marco Schurtenberger
Manager, Cyber security & IT
+41 58 792 22 33

FinTech: Embracing the people opportunity

There has been a lot of talk about Financial Technology (“FinTech”) companies in recent months. The increasing use of technology to deliver financial services is not new, but recent advances in technology, digital security and processing power are unlocking opportunities for companies to completely rethink the way in which these services are provided, disrupting accepted business models along the way.

Many commentators to date have focused on the impact this will have on the provision of services and the structure of the market, but another important issue to consider is the people aspect. It is people, after all, who develop the innovative and groundbreaking solutions that will cause tremors through the industry.

But where should you start? If an organisation is to be successful in this new world, attracting and developing the right talent will be crucial.

People challenge What can HR do?
How do we develop the skills to be successful in this new market? Focus on innovation and agility to react quickly to change.Redesigned performance management to foster teamwork and “fail-fast” mindsets that promote innovation.Rethinking organisation structures to emphasise flatter, team based structures.
How do we remodel our own processes to attract talent? Develop 21st Century HR processes that deliver HR services through digital channels and cloud-based solutions across the employee life cycle.
How do we develop a FinTech-friendly employer brand? Develop a set of values that speak to innovative talent which is looking for a “grand challenge” to solve.Use events such as business incubators or “elevator pitch” investment programmes to engage with potential future talent.

Many of these changes relate to the culture of the business, something currently on the minds of FinTech start-ups as one of the potential barriers to effectively working with traditional businesses.


This week sees the release of “Blurred Lines”, PwC’s global survey looking to assess the attitudes and emerging trends associated with FinTech. This survey provides some great food for thought, both for existing FS organisations and for those wanting to get in on the action with their own start-up.

There is a great deal to think about in this area, and we will see significant changes in people processes across the industry in the coming years. This presents an exciting opportunity for HR to be a strategic partner to the business when leadership are defining their response and group strategy for FinTech. You can access our survey here.

If you’d like to discuss your plans for introducing FinTech with an expert, please feel free to contact Stuart Jones.

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) – A guide for organisations and institutions

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) has considerable advantages over conventional paper-based billing in terms of costs and working capital management. More and more public authorities and organisations from small businesses to multinationals are tapping into these benefits. Organisations that stick with conventional billing increasingly have to pay extra charges or are even barred from doing business with partners who operate electronically. Introducing e-invoicing does entail challenges, uncertainties and risks – but nothing that can’t be addressed with the right planning and implementation.

This brochure is designed as a guide to help people managing SMEs and institutions who are planning and implementing an electronic invoicing system. You’ll find a summary of the most important legal matters to consider, the pros and cons of e-invoicing, and the main risks. We also give recommendations on what to look out for when introducing e-invoicing, as well as the best way to proceed. Rather than addressing all the tax and commercial law implications in exhaustive detail, we’ve deliberately focused on the key matters relevant under Swiss legislation.

We would be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have about the introduction of e-bills in an international context.

You’ll find the full guide here.

If you’d like to discuss your plans for introducing electronic invoicing with an expert, please feel free to contact our specialists:

Christian Hug
Information Governance
Telefon: +41 58 792 23 66

Jochen Richner
Tax Technology Solutions Leader
Telefon: +41 58 792 57 55

Christopher Oehri
Director, Assurance
Telefon: +41 58 792 27 57

And there’s more information on how to deal strategically with digitised documentation and data in the latest edition of our web magazine Disclose.