3 Things Millennials Want from Accounting Firms

3 Things Millennials Want from Accounting Firms

Bill.com recently presented results from a survey they conducted with more than 1,000 business owners on services, technology and billing. The 2017 Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey primarily focused on accounting expectations from Millennials and other cohorts as it relates to their roles as business owners.

Why Is the Focus on Millennials?

Well, as of the beginning of 2015, they are the largest cohort in the US labor force. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to figure out how and why this cohort is fundamentally different from earlier generations. Based on insights from the survey we have summarized the 3 main things millennial business owners want from accounting firms.

1. Go Paperless

Paperless is no longer an expectation, it’s the norm. Filing and storing paper is cumbersome. We live in a digital world. Electronic and cloud-based services offers access anytime, anywhere and from anywhere. 82% of respondents said they would be “very pleased” or “pleased” if their accounting firm offered paperless services.

2. Strategic Guidance

52% of millennials in the survey indicated that they need a firm that offers insight as it relates to strategy and guidance. Thus, they want services such as fractional CFO or controller services.

3. Respond in a Timely Manner

An overwhelming majority of millennials (72%) said that the most important trait of an accounting firm was to respond to their communications in a timely manner. We live in a world where businesses no longer have regular business hours. The Internet has extended the hours that businesses are operating and also changed consumers’ expectations. Consequently, millennial business owners expect prompt responses from their accounting firms.

So What?

The insights from Bill.com’s survey are not surprising. Cloud-computing is predicted to continue growing at a steady rate. Additionally, consumers continue to expect more as the digital climate continues to develop and empower consumers. Thus, the takeaway from this should be that accounting firms need to be experts on what their customers expects. The bottom line is – you want your customers to be happy – and to do so you need to make sure you are meeting their expectations. If your main customer base consists of millennials, then three things you should consider doing are going paperless, offering CFO services and oversee your processes on response time with customers.

To learn more about what millennial business owners want from their accounting firms, download the 2017 Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey special report or infographic.

Accounting Solutions for Early Stage Companies

Accounting Solutions for Early Stage Companies

The Struggle for Early Stage Companies

Early stage companies can often struggle to keep up with their day-to-day accounting requirements. This is especially true, as founders and management try to handle accounting in addition to all their other responsibilities. This challenge is compounded as business activity and business complexity increase. Accounting solutions for these types of companies vary of course depending on their industry; however, outsourcing accounting services can be beneficial in order to keep staff focused on core competencies and revenue-generating tasks.

Solution: Outsource

Nothing is more important or sensitive to your business than your financial position. That is why you should invest in both people with deep experience and an infrastructure with enterprise strength. Early stage companies can find solutions to their day-to-day accounting requirements by outsourcing the following services:

1. Transactional Requirements

This includes accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank reconciliations, payroll processing, asset tracking, etc.

2. Financial Control and Decision Making

This could be for a short term engagement to review processes, set up budgets or refine financial reports or on a continuing basis. Additionally, early stage companies can hire a consultant to act as the CFO/Controller that oversees daily activity, managing cash flow, communicating with tax advisers and presenting financial status at board meetings.

By leveraging resources and enterprise quality accounting applications, you will have the controls, confidence and focus to help drive operational improvements in your business. Companies in the early stages usually need to spend most of their attention on acquiring clients, developing business and performing their core competencies. The day-to-day accounting requirements can add to the stress of all the other challenges of being in the starting phase of growing your business. Deciding whether you should outsource or not depends, of course, on your situation and business; however, it undeniable that outsourcing services that are non-revenue generating can be extremely beneficial and valuable.

5 Myths around Outsourcing Finance Fuctions

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Should Small Businesses Forecast?

Should Small Businesses Forecast?

The short answer is ‘yes’. The longer answer is ‘absolutely yes’.

Seriously, there are multiple reasons why smaller businesses need to forecast and implement a FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) framework. First, cash is generally the most delicate asset of any small business, especially those under $20 million in sales. Cash (and the corresponding line of credit) has to use forecasting regularly so that potential shortfalls can be addressed as quickly as possible.

The second reason is not as readily apparent. Businesses who plan revenues, margins, and operating income regularly and compare actual results to these plans will do significantly better than those who do not. The former will seek answers to why plans fall short or are even exceeded. In such cases, strategies and action plans are the result of plans which are not met. Conversely, those businesses doing little to no planning are typically ‘winging it’ or flying by the seat of their pants.

A FP&A Checklist for Small Businesses

  1. Daily treasury management is a must. That means reconciling cash every day and drawing or paying down on the LOC each morning. Other daily processes need to be adhered to in the areas of billing, collections, purchases, and cash disbursement. No shortcuts allowed.
  2. Cash should be projected 8 to 13 weeks each week on a rolling basis, and this is not the job of the accountant or just the CEO. This should be done by everyone in the business who has an impact on cash (whether producing or consuming it).
  3. A few key metrics should be maintained and monitored weekly, but only a few which can lead to actionable change.
  4. Financials MUST be completed on a monthly basis within a reasonable time frame after month-end. There are no excuses to not making this happen.
  5. And finally, ensure your actual results are a part of your FP&A tool. What went right last month or quarter? What did not go according to plan, and why? Running a causal analysis is an incredibly powerful tool to use when answering these questions. At this time, re-forecast the P&L and relevant balance sheet items over the next 12 months.

Check out Harvard Business Review’s: Why Budgeting Fails: One Management System is Not Enough below to learn more about best budgeting practices. 

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Learn what is wrong with the current approach to budgeting and how to fix it. 

DOWNLOAD FREE REPORT
Outgrowing QuickBooks?

Outgrowing QuickBooks?

Congratulations, you’re outgrowing QuickBooks

When your business grows, you should celebrate—not suffer. Try telling that to the finance team that’s still trying to make QuickBooks work. It’s just too basic to handle growing organizations with evolving needs. So your team might be compensating with inefficient workarounds and spreadsheets. And you may realize you can’t rely on your basic reports to be of any strategic use. That’s a lot to pay for a “low cost” solution. Find out what makes Intacct the top solution for QuickBooks graduates.

Make the “day to day” easier

If your team is spending hours on spreadsheets, your entry-level accounting solution isn’t doing you any favors. Ditch the extra data entry with Intacct’s feature-rich cloud accounting solution. Automate multi-entity close and reporting, revenue recognition, project accounting, and more. Save team time today and be prepared for tomorrow with a solution that can handle almost any accounting process you can imagine.

Flex your reporting muscle

Intacct was uniquely designed to give you endless reporting flexibility. Unlike QuickBooks, Intacct enables you to track both financial and operational data in real time. You can easily drill from top-level results down to the performance for a specific entity or location, then down to individual transactions. And you can access your reports from any web browser, on any device. Integrate without IT, and other cloud benefits Organizations that are outgrowing QuickBooks can expect high ROI when switching to cloud accounting. You don’t have to worry about system availability and security—that comes guaranteed. Plus, it’s instantly easier to connect with other cloud-based best-in-class business systems, like Salesforce CRM, so you can share data between systems without human data entry or errors.

Key outcomes:

  • Improve productivity by eliminating manual processes and spreadsheets
  • Get instant visibility into business performance, anytime, anywhere
  • Integrate with your other applications to eliminate data re-entry and information silos
  • Save money, increase security, and reduce IT headaches

5 Myths around Outsourcing Finance Fuctions

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Visibility: You Need Eyes in the Back of Your Head

Visibility: You Need Eyes in the Back of Your Head

As business people, we all know that access to the best information is critical to good decision making. Yet many of us struggle with outdated processes and technology that limit our visibility into all aspects of our business, thereby diminishing the quality of our decisions. There is no place where visibility is more important than the accounting and fiancé departments. If we can’t actually see the state of our financials, then we can’t know what’s going well, what’s going poorly and what needs our attention.

The true measure of accounting visibility is how quickly and easily you can see any given aspect of your businesses financials. Ideally, this should include everything from cash flow to outstanding invoices to cash on hand to receipts and beyond. If it is difficult or time-consuming for you to view any of this information, then you really don’t have optimized accounting visibility, creating uncertainty and undermining your ability to make fully informed decisions.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize that visibility into company accounting is only valuable when in information is not just available, but also usable. That is a key distinction which often goes overlooked. If the accounting information isn’t easily discernible that means it is not actually useful-at least not immediately. Visibility becomes irrelevant if you can’t leverage what you are seeing. The question then becomes how to make sure that the accounting data is both visible and usable.

Software Availability

First, how accessible is the software itself? With legacy accounting software, the solution needs to be installed on a single computer and that is the only device which can access the financial information and programs. Alternatively, cloud accounting software, just like all cloud based solutions, can be utilized from any computer or device with an internet connection and user access permission. This far greater accessibility to information naturally makes the company’s financial information more visible to all authorized users, who then can collaborate to make the business more efficient.

Streamlined Data

How is the accounting and financial information presented? A streamlined display is critical- you need to be able to move easily from viewing one aspect of the business’s financials to another without having to pore through hard to read accounting tables, or worse, raw data. When the accounting software can consolidate the information in an intuitive and easily navigable fashion, you and your team can gain a much better understanding of the state of your business.

Comprehensive View

Ideally, your accounting solution should provide insight into every corner of the company’s financials – otherwise, it cannot truly deliver maximum visibility. A dashboard that offers a complete view of the organization’s financial situation at a single glance offers a level a visibility that drives better analysis and decision making.

Real Time

Finally, the most visible accounting solutions will feature real time capabilities, offering up the most up to date insight at any time, with no exceptions. Accounting and financial solutions that cannot deliver real time information will inherently be incapable of providing visibility in to the company’s financials as they currently stand, and that’s just not good enough for a lot of businesses.

For most businesses, a cloud based accounting solution is best – it provides comprehensive information that is organized intuitively and is based upon real time data that is easily accessible. You really can have eyes in the back of your head when you utilize cloud based accounting and financial solutions for your business!

Cloud Software Helps Faith-Based Organizations Reach their Goals

Cloud Software Helps Faith-Based Organizations Reach their Goals

“Drowning in a sea of Excel spreadsheets.“

 

“Plagued by confusion, delays and lack of confidence in reporting.”

 

“Cost and headaches of on-premise accounting systems and IT infrastructure.”

 

“Need for a user-friendly cloud solution that would support anytime, anywhere access while minimizing IT efforts.”

These are just a few of the most common challenges that faith-based organizations struggle with. The good news is Intacct,the customer satisfaction leader in cloud ERP software, is the solution for those problems. And it is not just me saying so, below are a few examples of what leaders from churches around the country are saying about Intacct:

“Intacct has allowed us to bridge the gap between efficiency and being a people- oriented caring ministry.” Dennis Richards, Executive Pastor, Preston Trail Community Church, Frisco TX

 

“They (the ministry staff) wanted to know right away how they were doing in that new campus, What’s our attendance? What’s our giving? What are our expenses on capital expenditures? (With Intacct) we were able to provide that information, fast.” Randy Bell, Executive Pastor of Administration, Gateway Church, Dallas/Fort Worth TX

 

“With the efficiencies we’ve gained through Intacct, we’ve kept our staff size low even as we doubled in size. By using the system to manage all of our day-to-day bookkeeping, we’re saving $85,000 or more a year in salaries and benefits, while doing deeper analysis and reporting.” Aaron Goin, Finance Director at Faith Promise Church, Knoxville, TN

 

“QuickBooks was a good fit when we were starting out, but now we need a more robust financial management system. Intacct will enable us to double the productivity of our finance team while providing better overall control and visibility into the use of our funds. With Intacct, we can continue to grow without the need to immediately add headcount to our finance team—providing a nice savings to the church.” Gay Lynn Martin, Financial Director, Canyon Ridge Christian Church, Las Vegas, NV

Reasons Why Intacct Software is a Great Tool for Faith-based Organizations

  • It’s a cloud-based. Forget about needing an expensive on-premises system.
  • Like the staff at Gateway Church says, good data drives good ministry; Intacct frees up staff time that can be spent on ministry. For example, checks and payments can be reviewed and approved from anywhere via internet so events can be organized, budgeted and funded quickly and easily without running around for approvals.
  • With the Statistical Accounts and Journaling functionality, you can capture and track non-financial data such as attendance, baptisms, missions, members in small groups and volunteers. And then you can produce reports such as the Giving Scorecard in a blink. Just think of how quickly you can produce reports showing changes in worship attendance, variations in giving or average giving per attendee per week. All from one system!
    • You have easier, faster and more accurate reports using Intacct Dimensions. This functionality makes reporting a much simpler process. Gateway Church estimate they spend 25% less time preparing reports.
    • With Intuitive dashboards your church leaders have easy access to real-time key information such as revenue vs. expenses, giving by period, current cash position, attendance and more.
    • Budgeting is so much easier when you have reliable data and analytics.  Preston Trail Community Church reports that with Intacct, the 2015 budget was much easier and delivered ahead of time.
  • Intacct provides immediate access to important data and documents so decision-making is much easier and supporting documentation is easy to access for review.
  • Imagine your church’s executive office being completely paperless. Invoices are submitted electronically and payments are made the same way. Data on incoming funds is available to all pastors as soon as the amounts are posted.
  • Intacct provides open APIs so other software can easily interface with it. This is great for churches that outsource their payroll to a third-party processing company, use expense management software to track business travel expense or use church management software to track membership and giving. Also, with the APIs, data uploading using Excel .csv files is easy and time-efficient.

Lavoie is an Intacct business partner and we have an accounting and ERP implementation team dedicated to helping our clients get started on Intacct.  If you have any questions about how your church or nonprofit can benefit from our products and services, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.