Accounting Trends in 2022 That Can Help Your Business

Accounting Trends in 2022 That Can Help Your Business

The accounting industry continues to quietly undergo a transformation that will be revolutionary once the history books are written. This transformation is mainly the fruit of rapid developments in the technological infrastructure that powers the day-to-day functions of accounting practice. 

Those organizations who are adaptable and among the early adopters of these emerging accounting trends stand to capitalize significantly over their competition. On the other hand, organizations that are resistant to change will fall farther behind and may even become obsolete.

In this article, we take a closer look at three emerging trends in accounting practice for 2022 and how they can help your business.

1. Accounting Automation

Accounting automation is enabled by cutting-edge software programs that allow daily accounting functions to be completed with minimal human involvement. Any routine accounting function that has a clear set of rules can now be designed by software and executed by these programs automatically without human intervention.

The automation of accounting functions will be a rapidly growing trend in 2022. There are tremendous benefits for organizations that adopt automation technologies in their accounting practices. The two most significant benefits are increased efficiency and reduction of errors.

Increased Efficiency

Prior to automation, many daily accounting tasks were done manually. These manual tasks were time-consuming and required substantial amounts of human resources. With accounting automation, these tasks that were once done manually are now done automatically by software programs. The result is that those tasks are completed much faster and with much fewer human resources.

This increased process efficiency enabled by automation allows the members of your team to focus on activities that are more valuable to your organization. These high-value activities include delivering better customer service and spending time on strategy and planning. Since the manual tasks are now automated, your accounting team is freed up to delight your customers more as well as spend time and energy planning how to make your business even better for the future.

Reduction of Errors

If your accounting team is overwhelmed by a mountain of daily tasks that they have to do manually, they will have to work faster to try to get everything finished on time. This rushed process will inevitably result in more errors in their work. Accounting errors are not only a source of liability for your company, they also take up a considerable amount of extra time by having to diagnose, correct, and readjust downstream books and records that were impacted. 

By implementing automated accounting technologies in 2022 your organization will experience tremendous benefits because the automated programs will be able to detect and even prevent accounting errors from occurring. Furthermore, if an error is detected by the automated accounting program, it will be much easier and less time-consuming to fix because once the error is corrected, the software will take care of adjusting all downstream books and records that were affected by the error.

2. Agile Accounting

A recent survey found that 54% of CFOs plan to make remote work permanent for their accounting teams even after the coronavirus pandemic is over. This phenomenon represents a major shift in thinking about traditional processes within accounting departments. 

One of the most significant consequences of this shift is that accounting teams will need to be more agile in 2022 than ever before. In short, an agile accounting team is one that can have its members working in different locations at different times, but still meeting the goals of the accounting practice.

One of the keys that is going to enable agile accounting is cloud storage technology. Prior to the dawn of agile accounting in the industry, firms stored their accounting data on local servers within their organizations. As a result of this local storage, team members generally needed to be onsite to access the accounting data. With cloud services, an organization’s accounting data can now be securely stored within the cloud and accessed from anywhere in the world. In this way, cloud storage is a game-changer and has revolutionized the approaches businesses are now taking towards implementing more lean and agile accounting processes in their organizations.

In addition to bringing increased agility to accounting teams themselves, agile accounting is also going to have an impact on hiring and retaining top accounting talent in 2022. Agile accounting methods have obvious attractions for potential new team members. With an agile model, job candidates are attracted by the ability to work from their current cities and not have to move to a new location. They are also enticed by being able to work at different times during the day or night depending on what best suits their lifestyle. 

In short, agile accounting methodologies—enabled by cloud storage technology—will be a major disruptor in 2022. Accounting teams will become more agile and leaner than ever before. Organizations that don’t adopt agile methods may encounter problems hiring and retaining top accounting talent in 2022.

3. Outsourced Accounting

The year 2022 will also see a continued increase in outsourced accounting. Outsourced accounting encompasses many accounting functions including:

  • Accounts payable
  • Account receivable
  • General ledger accounting
  • Budget projections
  • Payroll
  • Time and expense reporting

With outsourced accounting, these standard accounting functions—as well as many others—are outsourced by businesses to specialist accounting firms.

Many organizations will continue to realize in 2022 that outsourced accounting firms bring a wealth of experience to their business. Additionally, by entrusting their standard accounting functions to qualified experts, businesses are freed up to focus on high-value activities such as revenue generation via more sales and better customer service.

Two additional benefits that businesses will realize from outsourced accounting services are the application of advanced technologies to their accounting processes and consultative financial expertise. Third-party outsourced accounting firms are experts in the latest accounting software programs. These outsourced partners can help businesses build valuable accounting software ecosystems that will automate many of their accounting functions. 

Outsourced accounting partners also bring tremendous value to their clients in the form of consultative financial guidance to help their business planning and strategy. With outsourced accounting, you get access to a highly-experienced controller or CFO who can leverage their decades of experience to help you optimize the accounting and financial aspects of your business even further.

Staying Ahead of the Accounting Curve in 2022

As you can see, 2022 is going to be a year of rapid progress for the accounting industry. Accounting teams who are quick to adopt automated accounting technologies will make leaps over their competition in terms of vastly increased efficiencies. 

Additionally, companies who become leaner and more agile will enjoy higher employee satisfaction and be able to attract top accounting talent. For organizations who are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of running a top-notch accounting practice, outsourced accounting services will be more necessary than ever in 2022.
For more information on how Lavoie can help Charlotte businesses stay ahead of the accounting curve in 2022, reach out to us today by calling 704-481-6699.

Top Private Equity Accounting Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Top Private Equity Accounting Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Accounting is one of the most important ingredients of success for private equity firms large and small. 

When accounting is optimized for the best practices of private equity, it becomes an additional catalyst for success. On the other hand, if accounting is not done properly based on the unique aspects of a private equity firm, the results can seriously hinder performance.

In order for private equity accounting to be a catalyst for success, it needs to be competent and actually bring value in several key areas including:

  • Leveraging next-generation automated accounting technologies to enable scale
  • Seizing any and all opportunities to put in place real-time accounting reporting
  • Extracting value from accounting practices to support strategic growth 

While the goals for private equity accounting teams are clear, reaching them can prove challenging. In this article, we want to take a closer look at a few of the most common accounting mistakes made by private equity firms and how those mistakes can be prevented.

3 Private Equity Accounting Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

1. Failure To Scale Accounting Systems

One of the primary accounting mistakes made by private equity firms is the continued use of manual accounting processes while trying to scale growth. If your accounting team is spending most of their time manually performing tasks, the growth of your portfolio companies will be hindered.

The key to avoiding the failure to scale accounting systems is by implementing clearly defined workflows across intradepartmental teams, which are backed by automated accounting technologies. 

There is an increasing number of accounting software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms covering a wide range of accounting functions. It can be helpful for private equity firms to consult with qualified accounting SaaS experts to help build an ecosystem of these platforms for your firm. 

This accounting SaaS ecosystem will bring automation and scale to the accounting operations across your portfolio. Instead of hindering growth, this automation will help scale and empower your firm’s growth.

2. Making Key Decisions Based on a Lack of Real-Time Information

Private equity firm principals and partners need to have the most up-to-date accounting data as possible. 

Prior to the entrance of SaaS accounting platforms, private equity leaders had to rely heavily on the CFO for the pulse on the accounting state of affairs. And often, the CFO themselves did not have the most up-to-date accounting reports. With the introduction of an automated accounting software ecosystem we previously discussed, it is now possible for all leaders of the firm to have access to real-time accounting data. 

This real-time view of accounting reporting and performance is a game-changer for the private equity industry. Leaders of private equity firms can now make the most informed decisions possible about their portfolio companies. 

Often events can unfold rapidly in the mergers and acquisitions world, and vital decisions about the future of a given portfolio company need to be made quickly. In these situations, the old method of having to wait weeks for accounting data to be compiled is a thing of the past. With the current software ecosystems properly implemented, private equity leaders have the key information they need in real-time to make important decisions.

It is imperative that CFOs and accounting leaders avoid the mistake of allowing delays in their accounting reporting systems due to outdated technologies and processes. If these delays aren’t remedied, the leaders of these firms could end up making poor strategic decisions about their portfolio companies and that could prove very costly. 

In order to ensure you are taking advantage of all the opportunities to put in place real-time accounting reporting systems, it is helpful to partner with a consultant that has the ability to understand your unique portfolio and where those opportunities exist. Doing so will result in tremendous benefits for the leaders of your firm when it comes time to make big decisions about the future.

3. Mismatched CFOs

Selecting a CFO for your private equity firm is one of the most important decisions you will make. One of the key roles your CFO should play is in knowing how to use accounting practices to aid rapid growth.

As we discussed earlier, many private equity firms have a growth focus. The mistake that is commonly made is when a private equity firm hires a CFO who does not have robust experience in running the accounting practice to maximize the growth of the organization. 

The reality is many CFOs come from backgrounds that are focused more on accounting for mature companies. In these contexts, the CFOs have not spent enough time in a high-growth environment. They may be very capable CFOs—even coming from very large enterprises. However, if they have not had experience in running a successful accounting operation towards growth, they will likely be unqualified as the CFO of a private equity firm. 

In order to avoid these mistakes, private equity firm leaders should search for CFOs with demonstrated experience in creating and running accounting systems for high-growth companies. 

For CFOs to be successful with accounting practices in a growth environment, they need to have the ability to bring meaningful strategic guidance to the leaders of the firm. This ability to bring guidance can only come from significant past experiences in running the accounting operations in sometimes volatile and chaotic growth environments. 

These CFOs are not expecting to show up on day one and have tightly organized systems in place. On the contrary, they have had past experiences taking a somewhat disorganized, rapid growth situation and cleaning up the accounting operations—streamlining and scaling them in order to foster further growth. 

The best way to find a CFO who could be a potential fit for your private equity firm is to ask them during the interview process what strategic growth-related guidance they have given from an accounting perspective in the past at their previous organizations.

Let Accounting Help Grow Your Private Equity Firm

At a big-picture level, the accounting practice for your private equity firm needs to be just as growth-focused as the rest of the firm. CFOs with a maintenance-only mindset who lack the ability to bring strategic accounting guidance to the table when it comes to growth, will not let your firm realize its full potential. 

Similarly, sticking with outdated accounting technologies and processes will hinder the growth of your firm as you try to scale your portfolio. Not only should you seek the assistance of a qualified consultant to help you select and implement an accounting SaaS ecosystem, you should also have this advisor help you bring real-time accounting reporting to all the leaders of your firm. 

In the midst of rapid growth, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to take the appropriate steps you need to take to ensure the success of your accounting operation. That is why it can be helpful to find a consultant you can trust to aid you in these important initiatives for the future success of your firm. 

To learn more about how Lavoie can help your private equity firm avoid making the mistakes in this article, contact us online or give us a call at 704-481-6699 today.

The 3 Financial Strategies You Want To Remember in 2021

The 3 Financial Strategies You Want To Remember in 2021

An organization’s financial strategy is critical to the health and success of the business. A well-crafted financial strategy enables an organization to optimize operations and can present additional opportunities for growth. In contrast, a poor financial plan can hinder an organization’s operations and drive even a profitable company out of business.

Despite the importance of financial planning, the process of building a robust financial plan does not have to be complicated. By following a few simple strategies, an organization can avoid many of the common pitfalls that result in a flawed financial plan and hamper the growth of the business.

Three Important Financial Strategies for 2021

1. Remember That Cash Is Still King

It is vital to remember that a company’s money (revenue) is not the same as the money that a company has been paid (cash inflow).  While an organization may be profitable on paper, it could be broke in reality based upon the ratio of revenue to expenses.

Bills can only be paid with the money that a company actually has on-hand, making cash management an essential component of an organization’s financial strategy. 

This includes setting the terms of contracts to ensure that they are paid promptly and taking advantage of opportunities to minimize expenses, such as the use of automation to reduce payroll expenses.

2.Keep It Simple

Overcomplicating its financial strategy is a common mistake that businesses make.  To optimize its operations, an organization may break expenses into many buckets and independently monitor and analyze each.

While this is intended to increase visibility and optimize expenditures, it can end up costing an organization more money in the long term.  Additional complexity and analysis require additional headcount to complete.  Since payroll is typically one of a company’s largest expenses, up to 70% of the total, the potential gains made due to increased visibility and optimization are likely to be overwhelmed by the corresponding analysis cost.

A better approach to expense management is to apply the Pareto Principle: 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.  Identify those few things that make up 80% of your expenses (likely payroll, marketing, and rent) and focus optimization efforts on those for maximum impact.

Financial analysis can also be simplified and optimized by the use of automation.  By transitioning manual accounting processes to automated ones, an organization can achieve the same level of analysis while minimizing the associated costs.

3. Bring Management Together & Make It Meaningful

One of the most common mistakes made by founders and entrepreneurs is maintaining too tight of control over a business’s operations.  By trying to do everything themselves, these leaders end up spending more time working “in” their company (day-to-day tasks, putting out fires, etc.) rather than working on their company (strategic planning, long-term goals, etc.).  As a result, the company can stagnate and fail because it lacks a clear path forward.

This also applies to an organization’s financial planning.  A crucial part of building a successful business is hiring competent people and handing over control of the tasks they are more fit to manage.

When developing a financial strategy, an organization’s management likely has a better view of the current state of the parts of the company under its direct control than the CEO.  Asking them about their departments’ current state, their needs, and potential opportunities to decrease expenses without sacrificing revenue can provide invaluable data for crafting an organization’s financial strategy.

 

Preparing Your Financial Strategy for 2021

The most effective financial strategies are based upon experience.  Optimizing cash flow requires knowledge of how to manage contracts best.  Simplifying financial analysis requires an understanding of what is and isn’t important.  Reducing expenses via automation requires the ability to select platforms that provide a tangible benefit and return on investment.  Crafting a strong financial strategy requires knowing the right questions to ask subordinates and take the right actions based on their answers. 

A good starting point for acquiring some of this knowledge is reading Lavoie’s Guide to Strategic Financial Planning. 

This ebook provides best practices and tips for developing an effective financial strategy.

However, in many cases, there is no substitute for experience.  Lavoie has over 25 years of financial planning experience and can manage your accounting for you, allowing you to focus on running and building your business.

The Most Common Financial Mistakes CEOs Make

The Most Common Financial Mistakes CEOs Make

Many CEOs don’t have a background in financial planning yet are expected to develop strategies and make decisions that dramatically impact an organization’s financial health. As a result, CEOs make several common mistakes that can dramatically impact their company’s financial health and success.

 Where CEOs Go Wrong

Getting too comfortable with “how you do things.”

Past performance is not indicative of future results.  While an organization’s strategies may have worked in the past, situations can evolve, forcing changes to “how you do things.”  CEOs must be ready and willing to adapt, not stuck in a rut.

Denying that every decision a business makes has some financial implication

Every decision that a business makes impacts its finances.  Everything that a company does affects its ability to operate in terms of additional or lost revenue, productivity, expenses, etc.  If nothing else, making the decision to do one thing means that the organization likely lacks the resources to do something else.  All business decisions should take into account the associated financial implications.

Making every decision in a vacuum

As the CEO, you will be called to the carpet for every choice you make, financial or otherwise, so it is vital that you justify the decisions you make.  Decisions should be made based upon the best data available and incorporate the input of all stakeholders and subject matter experts.  Making decisions in a vacuum increases the probability that a poor decision will be made based upon incorrect data or assumptions.

Forecasting based on what is in the bank account at that time

An organization’s current bank balance is a snapshot in time.  It can change rapidly and in unexpected ways.  For example, something as simple as a vendor depositing a check earlier or later than usual can result in a significant discrepancy between what an organization’s current bank balance is and what it “should” be.

For this reason, an organization’s financial strategies should not be based on projections based on a current bank balance.  A range of different factors could affect this and render any projections based on it erroneous and unusable.

No visibility into what you are owed and what you have to payout

Visibility into an organization’s liabilities and receivables is essential for a CEO.  For example, do you have more liabilities than what you are expecting in your receivables? You could have 600k in receivables but 800k in liability.

If this is the case, then a CEO needs to develop a strategy to decrease expenses and liability relative to receivables.  However, without visibility into the current state of liabilities and receivables, a CEO is unaware of the need to change.

Ignoring investments that don’t show up on the P&L

An organization’s profit and loss (P&L) statement summarizes its revenue, costs, and expenses during a specific period.  However, it is not necessarily comprehensive and should not be treated as such.

Investments that do not show up on an organization’s P&L statement should still be incorporated into its financial strategy.  While they may not impact long-term revenue and expenses, they will show up in cash flow.  Failing to account for them could leave an organization looking financially healthy on paper but broke in reality.

Not considering seasonality

Many businesses have seasonal ebbs and flows. Such as an increase in work for construction workers in summer and increased e-commerce sales in the months approaching Christmas.

For others, the reasons may be less obvious (such as having more sales in summer because customers have more money), but these cyclic changes will still occur and should be incorporated into a CEO’s financial strategy.  For example, building up cash reserves going into a dry season may be necessary to cover expenses while waiting for sales to trend upward again.

Planning once and refusing to iterate as things change

A business’s profitability is determined by a number of internal and external factors.  While the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts are a high-visibility example, businesses experience smaller changes much more frequently.

Adaptability is a critical component of an organization’s financial strategy.  While the company may have certain goals and plans in place, if internal or external factors demand a change, it is essential to adapt rather than insisting on continuing with a course that isn’t working.

 

Avoiding Common Financial Mistakes

 Understanding how financial planning can go wrong doesn’t tell you how to develop a financial strategy correctly.  To learn more about this, check out Lavoie’s CEO’s Guide to Strategic Financial Planning.

Strategic Financial Planning In 2 Questions

Strategic Financial Planning In 2 Questions

Developing a strategic financial plan can seem daunting; however, it can be boiled down into two questions: what are you doing now and where do you want to be? This article walks you through the process of answering these two questions, providing a foundation for developing a financial strategy for your organization.

Question 1: What Are You Doing Now?

Every journey has a starting point and an ending point. Before you can implement a plan to achieve your financial goals, it is important to consider where you are now.

Current State of the Numbers

The current state of your organization’s numbers are a good starting point when determining your organization’s capability to meet its financial goals.  Some important questions to ask include:

  • Are you in a position of stability? Financial stability is vital to reaching “stretch” goals.  If the organization is not currently financially stable, it is important to identify this fact and develop a strategy for achieving stability as a first step in the planning process.
  • What is actually coming in/out the door? Knowing the size of the company’s cash reserves is not enough for financial planning.  How much revenue is coming into the organization and how much is going out again as expenses?
  • What is fueling the majority of your expenses? While increasing sales is one way of improving the organization’s financial footing, the ability to do so depends on the market and potential customers.  Identifying and minimizing expenses increases profits as well but is less impacted by external factors.

Culture

Achieving financial goals requires the support of the entire organization.  Take a moment to consider your organization’s culture and if the company has the maturity and ability to meet its goals.

  • Do your decisions match your vision and mission? An organization’s goals and procedures are important, but actions are even more so.  Are your decisions, both recent and historical, helping to move the organization towards its goals?
  • Would your employees agree? Employees throughout the organization can have different perspectives, insights, and recommendations.  Ask those “down in the weeds” how well the company is following its vision and mission and how they believe things could do better.

Question 2: Where Do You Want To Be?

The effectiveness of a strategic plan can only be effectively measured if there are usable metrics.  Before starting to build a plan to improve the organization’s financial position, it is necessary to define success and failure.

Targets

The first step in defining “success” for a financial strategy is defining concrete targets.  From there, the next question to ask is what do you need to achieve your targets?

  • Human Capital.  Does your organization have the human capital necessary to achieve its goals?  This not only includes headcount but access to the specific skill sets required now and in the future.
  • Acquisitions. Does your organization have the capabilities that it requires?  Are there areas of your business where things could be done more effectively or efficiently?
  • IT Investments. The IT landscape is evolving rapidly, and new solutions have the potential to dramatically improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.  Are there any IT investments that the organization should make that would help in reaching its targets?

Expenses

A failure to properly monitor and manage expenses is one of the most common ways that businesses fail to achieve their financial goals.  Gaining visibility into past, present, and future expenditures is an essential part of financial planning.

  • How can you gain more visibility into your expenditures? Visibility into expenditures is essential to identifying opportunities for optimizations and cost cutting.  How can you achieve a higher level of visibility into business operations?
  • Do you have an idea of your cash flow on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? What level of visibility do you currently have into your organization’s cash flows?  Examining cash flows at the daily, weekly, and monthly level can help to identify potential inefficiencies and opportunities.

Beginning Your Strategic Financial Plan

Answering the questions that were asked in this article enables you to lay the groundwork for developing your organization’s financial strategy.  To learn about the next steps in your financial planning process, download the CEO’s Guide to Strategic Financial Planning.

Sage Intacct’s 6 Key Performance Metrics For Subscription Businesses [INFOGRAPHIC]

Sage Intacct’s 6 Key Performance Metrics For Subscription Businesses [INFOGRAPHIC]

How Healthy Is Your SaaS Business? These 6 Metrics Will Help You Figure That Out

As a Sage Intacct certified accounting and implementation firm, Lavoie CPA is excited to share the latest findings for SaaS businesses to become successful in 2021.

From startups to organizations ready to scale each one of these indicators is an invaluable piece of information to evaluate your company’s overall health — not to mention prep you for that looming board meeting in the near future.

In this infographic we will dive into why each of these metrics is the difference between getting your next round of funding, scaling year over year, or hitting the wall.

Get the infographic and learn why you should care, how to calculate, and an interesting fact about the following KPIs:

  • CARR (Committed Annual Recurring Revenue)
  • CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
  • CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value)
  • Churn
  • Free Cash Flow
  • CCS (Cash Conversion Score)