In Pursuit of Profit
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From our experience, clients seem to believe one of these perspectives wholeheartedly – there’s very little in between. And yet, neither is entirely right.
On the one hand, if you never hear from your accountant, that’s a troubling sign because you can’t be sure what they’re even doing on behalf of your organization. This kind of communication gap removes accountability, creating the opportunity for underperformance, mistakes, and even fraud to occur. However, hearing from your accountant constantly means they are spending their time talking to you instead of doing the work you have hired them to do, which is problematic (not to mention wasteful). Neither is a desirable scenario!
No matter what the specific scenario is, they always come to us with the same two pain points: cost and fear of making a mistake.
Every decision-maker we talk to is juggling concerns around price (“How much will accounting services cost?” and “Is there room in the budget for outsourced accounting?”) and purchase anxiety (“How do I know what to look for in an accounting company?” and “What if I chose the wrong accounting provider?”) Unfortunately, sometimes we see these concerns derail the research process and the organization chooses to take the “I’ll do nothing for now” approach. Trust us when we say that is never the right solution! If you were at the point of looking for outsourced accounting and bookkeeping services, there was a reason why and that reason will not simply disappear because you feel overwhelmed by your options.
If your team is stretched too thin to keep up, does not have the experience needed to do a good job, or has a new situation that they need help with (like an expansion or audit), you need to get someone in to help right away. So, let’s discuss what you should be on the lookout for and how to know when you find it:
In some cases, holding onto the role internally means hiring an in-house accountant, but at many small businesses, the alternative is simply tasking other employees with these kinds of functions. And, to no one’s surprise, the lucky person who gets the accounting work added to their to-do list tends to be the business owner.
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.
When you hear “outsourced accounting services” what comes to mind? Typically, business owners and managers think of times when they might utilize project-based accounting help or hire a short-term accountant to bridge a hiring gap. And while these are common times to use accountant consultants, they are by no means the only types of roles that these kinds of accountants play. Accountant consultants (also called fractional accountants) can fulfill a number of different roles to help drive organizations forward.
Gig work can trace its origins to before the creation of the internet. However, over the last decade companies like Uber and Lyft have steadily led the push in the mass acceptance of the gig economy. In 2020 as lockdowns swept the nation, hundreds of thousands of new gig jobs became available virtually overnight thanks to Amazon, DoorDash, Grubhub, Instacart, and Shipt. The pandemic accelerated a shift that was already well on its way to becoming the next big trend in work.
But the quickly burgeoning gig economy was not isolated to takeout and grocery delivery. Professional gig work also grew exponentially as workers were laid off and left their traditional office jobs to manage personal responsibilities. According to a Harvard Business Review article on Thriving in the Gig Economy,
Approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left the relatively stable confines of organizational life — sometimes by choice, sometimes not — to work as independent contractors. Some of this growth reflects the emergence of ride-hailing and task-oriented service platforms, but a recent report by McKinsey found that knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest-growing segments of the freelance economy.
There is no doubt the US workforce landscape continues to experience significant changes. The business challenges of the last few years have caused many companies to rethink how they can best execute their operating plans. With more and more companies outsourcing their accounting functions, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure a beneficial outcome.
When your controller leaves, the logical next step is to find someone to fill the vacant position. Right?
Simply hiring another controller may not actually be the best decision for your business.
We work with companies everyday who are looking for accounting and finance leadership roles and it is not uncommon to have clients tell us they need a controller and then listen to them define the role only to discover that what they are looking for is a different position entirely.
Now, some organizations we work with are, in fact, in need of a controller. However, others have needs that better align with more senior financial leadership like that of a CFO, while others have requirements that fit better with a mid-level management accounting position.
Instead of jumping right into hiring a controller, take the time to understand what kind of role will be the best fit for your company.
The last decade has ushered in a digital revolution across all business areas. However, many businesses are still dragging their feet when it comes to automating their accounting and finance activities. In fact, 58% of finance teams surveyed indicated that they do not feel their finance back office is “sufficiently automated.”
Despite a plethora of tools and platforms available to help streamline these critical business areas, it seems many businesses are stuck in the past, relying on manual processes for their daily accounting functions. But organizations can use automation to drive profitability if they understand its benefits and can identify areas where AI will help them the most.
We talk to people every day that are looking for accountants for their companies. And being in the business of staffing organizations through both full-time hires and outsourced accounting services, we have noticed a trend in people’s thinking…
Business owners and hiring managers typically categorize their hiring intentions into one of two buckets: a part-time bookkeeper/bookkeeping service or a full-time accountant hire. But many business leaders overlook the value that a part-time accountant (or “fractional accountant” as they are referred to in the industry) can provide to their organization.
Whether the organization is for-profit or not-for-profit, a fractional accountant can be brought in for a variety of reasons to provide the same level of expertise of a full-time, dedicated accountant. While a fractional accountant from an accounting service provider may work on a less than full-time basis, their experience-level is as high (if not higher) than your average accountant.
The reason a fractional accountant may bring a greater breadth of experience the role is because they work with a variety of companies across a different industries and lifecycles simultaneously, which requires that they be well versed in a wide variety of accounting topics and stay abreast of all the latest news. As a result, fractional accountants may offer more accounting acumen at a much lower cost than their full-time counterpart.