One of the key decisions a business owner must make is what capabilities to build in-house and what services to outsource to experts.
Accounting and finance are among those capabilities. Anyone can hire a bookkeeper to make sure the numbers add up, but business owners should think about how they go beyond that, building high-level expertise and professionalism into their enterprise.
Here’s why you should be thinking about outsourcing.
One reason is obvious – cost. Hiring and maintaining an experienced Chief Financial Officer, Controller or Analyst on staff can be expensive. Why pay a six-figure salary for a dedicated executive when you can pay a fraction of that when you contract for just the number of hours needed?
But it’s more than just cost; one must also consider the level of expertise and vision.
Professional accounting firms are structured to provide a team of experienced, credentialed professionals, with a wide range of backgrounds, talents and perspectives. They deal with many clients across several industries, so they see the best practices and innovation among your colleagues and competitors, and also know the pitfalls and dangers that may not be obvious to business owners operating within their own enterprises.
But at this point it is important to determine what kind of firm you are looking for – not all accounting practices provide the same services. Some concentrate solely on bookkeeping, making sure your numbers add up, which is an important service, but provides little in the way or planning and strategy. Some CPA firms focus on tax strategy and compliance with financial regulations. A full accounting services firm, meanwhile, will provide a balance of these services, but with a focus on your operations, which incorporates a robust capability in planning, strategy, budget-building, and long-term sustainability.
Whatever kind of firm you choose, an outside team brings deep knowledge and education that would be difficult and expensive to recruit in house. Often these professionals have worked in executive-level positions such as a CFO in major corporations. Many have certifications such as Certified Management Account (CMA) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which require hundreds of hours of classes and study leading up to a rigorous series of tests. Extensive continuing education is required annually to maintain these certifications, guaranteeing that these professionals are at the forefront of understanding regulations, learning best practices, and maintaining industry standards. Such professionals are also part of extensive professional associations, giving them unmatched access to wisdom, experience, and problem-solving ideas from across the financial world.
Outsourcing your accounting services will open a door to a team of experts that are always available to address your needs and answer questions. They will be there to help you make informed decisions, guide you in solving your financial problems and create a sustainable long-range plan for prosperity.
But would an outside accounting services firm have your best interests at heart the way an inside staffer would? Absolutely, if they are a firm with seasoned professionals looking to be in business for years to come. As professionals, there are legal and ethical requirements that must be met for their clients, but they should also be passionate about the accounting tasks they perform, as well as their clients’ business. The firm to choose is the firm that believes that success is directly related to the success of their clients’ businesses. These firms will favor engaging clients who value and act upon the recommendations and insight they provide, resulting in more of a partnership between the firm and the client.
While each company’s needs and options for managing its accounting is unique, the benefits for outsourcing these services is clear: cost, expertise, breadth of vision, passion and commitment. Outsourcing your accounting and strategic planning services makes sense if you believe executive-level financial support should be a part of your business’s future.
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