In Pursuit of Profit
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Do you see your accountant as a number cruncher or an advisor? In an article that we published almost two years ago, our team pointed out that,
Today’s business climate requires more skills from your accountant than ever before… Successful companies need someone that will not only manage cash flow and provide accurate forecasting and reporting, but also offer sound advice. Having an accountant that can do the job is essential but having an accountant that can act as an advisor can really give you a competitive advantage.
And if that was true back then, it is certainly still true today! The best accountants are disciplined, proactive, collaborative, and operate with high ethical standards; and aside from just executing on deliverables, they also add value to the company with the work that they do in the following ways:
Maintaining Clean Books
An accountant should always strive to maintain clean books with the work that they do. However, in some instances an accountant may be brought in after someone less experienced was doing the job, requiring that they clean up the books as a part of taking over the role. Good accountants will take the time to review current accounting practices when hired to ensure that nothing is amiss. Where best practices have not been followed or the books have gotten muddled over time through errors and omissions, they should get the books in good order and educate support staff on how to keep them that way.
Having clean books lays a foundation for smart decision-making and sound strategic planning. It is also crucial when applying for financing, pitching to investors, and keeping partners informed. A company that does not represent themselves truthfully with their financial data, even if it is an accidental misrepresentation, can miss out on growth opportunities or be faced with fines or penalties as a result.
Implementing The Right Technology
Today’s accountants are more tech savvy than ever before. They have familiarity with popular online accounting platforms like QuickBooks and Xero, but their expertise often does not end there. Most accountants also have experience with a whole suite of expense reimbursement, mileage tracking, payroll, and invoicing apps, among other types of popular technology to help your business go digital.
A good accountant can look at a company’s financial operations and identify pain points where technology can be used to streamline these areas. Whether it is using automation, software plugins, standalone apps, or something else, your accountant can add value by removing friction and improving efficiency. A good example would be implementing a mobile expense tracking app for outside sales reps so they can easily submit expenses for meals, mileage, and hotels by simply taking pictures of their receipts.
Ensuring Timely Deliverables
Timely reporting is the cornerstone of any accountant’s job. Ensuring that financial reports are generated from clean books and shared with the right audience on a regular schedule keeps everyone on the same page so that executive leadership can make shrewd business decisions. Where investors and partners are concerned, regular reporting is an essential activity (perhaps even required in their contract terms), so an accountant’s timely delivery of key reports serves to retain trust and preserve these critical relationships.
In addition to generating balance sheets, cash flow statements, and income statements, accountants will also perform regular bank and credit reconciliations. These reconciliations are how accountants mitigate fraud risk and help manage cash flow to aid in the day-to-day operations of the business. Without accurate reconciliations, leadership only has a picture of how much money the company should have, not how much it does have. Therefore, bank reconciliations are one way that accountants add value to the strategic decision-making process while also protecting the company against bad actors.
Utilizing Internal Controls
Bank reconciliations are a detective form of internal control, which is to say that they can help to identify fraud that is already occurring. However, accountants also use preventative internal controls to thwart the opportunities for fraud as well, stopping it before it ever starts.
Good accountants will identify areas where internal controls need to be implemented as well as maintain existing controls to manage risk. They will use segregation of duties, access controls, required approvals, asset audits, document templates, trial balances, reconciliations, and data backups to protect the company. The result is that more money that the company generates stays in the company, adding not only immediate value in the form of increased cash reserves, but also long-term value in the form of growth.
Supporting Strategic Business Drivers
Strategic business drivers are the people, conditions, and information that allow your company to accomplish its goals. Business drivers represent the influences and factors that matter most to your company’s success. They can be financial, customer-based, offerings-based, internally focused but what unites them all is that they are used in strategic planning to drive business success.
As our team explains,
One of the best ways to ensure that your firm's projects remain on track is to align them with your company's strategic business drivers. Agreeing to launch a new product or begin a project just because it's convenient or advocated by management may not make sense once it is viewed with a fresh pair of glasses. Before a project is even considered, the first step should be to confirm that it aligns with your firm's top strategic business drivers.
Accountants live in the numbers every day, which puts them in the best position to help identify strategic business drivers and speak to them when leadership is having strategy conversations. In fact, representing your strategic business drivers is probably the most important place where accountants add value to their companies.
If you need part-time or full-time accounting help, please contact us. Our team of experienced accountants can work on-site or virtually for as much or as little time as you need them. We deliver top-rated accounting services that add value to our clients’ businesses by coming alongside them wherever they need help. Find out more today!