Business Advisory Blog

Evaluating Your Accounting Staff and Outside CPA

Over the years of working with companies as a consultant and running companies, it has amazed me as to how many accounting personnel within companies and, even worse, how many outside accounting professionals just don’t understand how that business is organized to “MAKE MONEY”.  I’ve heard, “I just can’t get the information that I request”, or “I just look at the bottom line of my financials”.  All too often financial personnel and professionals are not trained in the fundamental profit controls of the company for which they work, don’t ask questions to learn, and simply do what they know how to do, not what the business requires.

The purpose of an outside accountant is to not only prepare taxes or provide an acceptably formatted financial statement for your bank or bonding company, but to understand and challenge the financial controls of your business.  If they don’t understand the nuances of your bidding process, if they’ve never questioned it and requested information to support what has been explained, it’s likely that your internal personnel are preparing financial statements in a format to support whatever your accountant asks.  The accountant will often do what’s been done before, utilize a format that supports them in preparing your tax return, but not supporting management needs and profit control requirements.

A financial statement is simply a control or “sanity check” to determine if what you think has occurred during the last month, quarter, or year is accurate and consistent with the internal information (or gut sense) that you’ve assimilated and with which you’ve managed your company.  The purpose of monthly financial statements is to allow more rapid response to issues that arise when the financials don’t match what you think occurred or by effective analysis of key trends and data, focus the company better on means of increasing profit.  This can only be effective if the accountant asks questions, verifies responses so he or she truly understands the issues and business.

Question, when was the last time your accountant took the time to conduct an in depth review of your financial processes, procedures, and statement presentation?  When was the last time that you had a meeting with your internal or external accountant and learned something new about your business besides tax planning?  You are in the business of making money.  Profit should be the primary topic of every conversation with your accounting or financial professional. The simple purpose of your outside advisor is to increase profit, increase cash flow, maintain compliance needs, and to MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER.  Ask yourself the question of whether all those primary issues are addressed.  If not, you’re missing profit and missing the right professional.