In Pursuit of Profit
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As fractional accountants, we have experience with a wide array of “less than full-time” accounting engagements ranging from ongoing part-time work and extra assistance during busy periods to short-term project work and interim roles while a new accountant is hired. Of these, interim work is notoriously underutilized, which is disappointing because it is an area where bringing in help expeditiously can have a huge impact.
The pandemic caused innumerable business obstacles, and among all the added barriers, accounting-related woes have emerged as a universal challenge.
Every day we talk with companies that are fighting the good fight to keep up with their daily accounting demands amid pandemic-related complexities. And while each business has a unique story, what we are hearing in the way of accounting challenges is starting to become predictable. Whether the pandemic has increased or decreased revenue, the common threads that unite companies these days are more work, staffing problems, late and messy financials, a lack of accurate and actionable information, and budget issues.
When a company is undergoing a significant shift, like a big cultural change or a change of ownership, a financial assessment can give them a comprehensive picture of where they are financially to aid in their strategic planning. A business financial assessment helps with decision-making related to everything from short-term cash flow management to long-term vision-setting.
Over the last year and a half many companies have brought in consulting accountants and fractional CFOs to assess their current financial position. Let’s take a closer look at what a financial assessment includes and who is best poised to conduct one.
“Finance” is a broad term every business leader has heard, but it can mean many different things.
Businesses have banking relationships, investments they need to track, fundraising and financial analysis needs. Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A), the work performed by Financial Analysts, is a complex specialty within Finance that all successful businesses need in some degree. There are multiple FP&A components of which every business requires a different combination. This complexity makes hiring to satisfy your FP&A needs difficult. To make matters harder, many accounting and FP&A functions can overlap.
So how do you know if you need to hire a dedicated Financial Analyst or a hybrid accountant? It helps to first understand the components of Corporate FP&A, the value each adds, and how much time each activity should take.
We see a variety of circumstances in our practice at ASP, whether it be outsourced consulting needs, or an organization growing and needing to consider a fulltime resource. Our recruiting efforts are responding to those fulltime needs daily. The pandemic has shifted the business landscape significantly, making strong financial leadership universally important.
Small companies that previously had their CEO at the helm of financial operations have realized that they need a fulltime controller to oversee their accounting operations and staff. With the increased demands of operating during financially uncertain times, CEOs need to focus on their core role of running the company overall (pivoting and shifting as needed), while entrusting another professional with the financial management of the company.
As a result, hiring a fulltime controller is no longer optional these days with the following business trends occurring:
Your accountant just gave notice, what do you do now?
Hopefully, your accountant gave you more than the obligatory two weeks, but regardless of what the timeframe looks like, the steps are the same:
Time is of the essence in this situation, especially if it coincides with a closing period or tax season, so you should get started immediately!
Since March, 62% of employed Americans have worked from home, which is more than double the previous figures from earlier in 2020. Furthermore, 59% of these employees want to continue to work remotely, moving forward even after public health restrictions are lifted. This sentiment has led businesses to examine the costs of maintaining a remote workforce closely. They are asking:
2020 has been a year of disruptions and reactions. Companies have reacted to supply chain interruptions, new regulations, shifting market demand, and staffing issues, among other challenges with some faring better than others.
Marcus Wagner explains, “Because of COVID-19, businesses and their accounting departments are going through a cycle of shock (and maybe some denial), survival, learning and adaptation. For those of you who haven’t done so yet, it’s critical to begin the shift into the learning and adaptation phases as quickly as possible so we emerge stronger as a result."
Adapting has been critical thus far and will continue to be as we move into 2021. An adaptation mindset allows your business to respond to current challenges and anticipate future disruptions to generate better financial outcomes. Companies with accounting teams that adapt quickly can minimize revenue loss during a downturn and capitalize on revenue opportunities faster during a recovery period.
A guest post from our colleagues at CFO Selections:
When adversity hits, the knee jerk reaction is to swiftly cut spending across the entire organization, but that response is a mistake.
Strategic cost cutting can keep a business going through tough times, but it must be approached with long-term value in mind. Reducing costs should abide by three essential principals:
Evaluate your spending and determine where you can cut costs to weather tough times while still protecting critical functions, minimizing long-term expenses, spending where it could end up costing more not to do so, and looking for opportunities to reduce waste.
The word ‘downsizing’ is often accompanied by a cloud of negative connotations, but it is rarely the result of poor employee performance or leadership mismanagement. Instead, downsizing usually results from other factors like an economic slowdown, overcrowded market, plant closure, or manufacturing outsourcing. Downsizing is simply part of running a business, just like managing rapid growth, which means that leadership must plan, manage, and execute it correctly.
At the most basic level, managing downsizing requires four steps: developing selection criteria, determining how much notice to give, providing outplacement support to employees that have been let go (where applicable), and protecting employee productivity and morale among retained workers. These activities are typically considered part of HR’s purview, but downsizing has implications that trickle down into other areas of the business. There are numerous bookkeeping implications during downsizing as well.