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There are 2 key reason why small businesses expect more from their accountant.
- In recent years we have seen a huge growth in Cloud Accounting Systems such as Sage One and Debitoor and automation of payments and bank feeds, its no longer enough for accountants just to provide book keeping or year end accounts and tax.
- Business owners want personalised, tailored partnerships with their accountant who need to be true business experts
So what are accountants doing differently?
The Virtual FD
According to Accounting Web….
Half the firms entering the Practice Excellence Awards this year (PEA15) offer management information as part of their service for business clients – up from 33% in 2014. One reason for this jump is that the approach has been shown to have a very beneficial effect on client satisfaction and practice profitability. Probably because it serves a fundamental client need.
Many smaller businesses and SME’s can’t afford a Full Time (or even in some cases a Part Time FD) but they need help with:
- Business Plans
- Budgeting and Forecasting
- Cash Flow Management
- Buy or Rent decisions
- Capital Investment Appraisal
- Accounting Procedures and Systems
- Business Strategy
- Business Funding and Investment
Virtual FD’s fill this gap because:
- You only pay for what you need
- There is no employment contract
- It provides access to higher level of expertise (in theory)
But here is the key question you should ask your accountant – Have you actually ever worked in business or been an FD?
It seems bizarre to me that so many accountants offer this service and yet have no experience as an actual FD
Weekly Management Reports
Accounting Web reports…
While many practices are becoming the finance team that puts together monthly reporting packs for company managers, Receipt Bank founder and CEO Alexis Prenn argues that monthly management accounts are not the future of accountancy. Cloud technology has changed the dynamic of accounting so much that advisers should be thinking more creatively about what they could do with this information.
What if accountants and businesses could get their hands on transactional data even more quickly and efficiently? Why not produce weekly management accounts?
In a scenario that is familiar to accountants on the Australian accounting conference circuit, specialist bookkeepers are now doing this for Antipodean coffee houses and eateries. “Cafés can run up costs very quickly – if you have three unprofitable weeks, you’re sunk. With online tools and transaction capture, the café can close its books on Sunday and get the weekly management accounts by Tuesday,” Prenn said.
I can see this being of great value in some businesses and cost effective with cloud accounting.
Business Planning and Forecasting
Forensic accountants are called upon to help in many situations:
- Shareholder and partnership disputes
- Divorce Cases – assessing assets and liabilities
- Professional Negligence claims
- Personal Injury Claims
- Insurance Claims – Business interruption and loss of profit
- Fraud Investigations
- Criminal Investigations
Often Solicitors will appoint Forensic Accountants and obtain quotes from several accountants before making a recommendation to their client.
CIMA Accountants are well suited to Forensic Accounting because of their business experience and analytical skills.
Divorce is a growth area for Forensic Accounting as its common for both parties to value assets and liabilities in different ways, to resolve this in some cases accountants will be jointly appointed by both parties.
The process is normally as follows:
- The Solicitor issues instructions to the Accountant
- The Accountant reads the brief, investigates the information supplied and searches for undisclosed information (for example Land Registry, Companies House, Internet etc)
- The Accountant requests further information via the solicitor
- Appropriate calculations are carried out
- A report is prepared which can be presented to the Court