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CPA’s are Specialized

The Difference in CPAs

Looking back at my career I don’t know how many times I have introduced myself to someone and they ask, “Are you a CPA?” and I say yes. Then they tell me “you must be very busy with tax season” and I look at them with a bit of awe and try not to roll my eyes at them. Then I go into the discussion of the different roles that CPAs have and areas of interest they may specialize in.  I have a current CPA license, but I do NOT hold myself out to be a CPA…I don’t even do my own taxes!  I have a CPA that specializes in tax, and she prepares my annual federal return.

 

What is a CPA?

CPAs are Certified Public Accountants.  They are individuals that have met the minimum requirements of studying accounting and passed the CPA exam in one of the 50 states. In other countries, they are called Chartered Accountants.

 

In order to claim you are practicing CPA or a CPA firm, you must meet certain requirements that are dictated by regulators such as AICPA, FASB and SEC.  This may be confusing, but for example, I hold a current CPA license…but I am NOT a practicing CPA and our firm is NOT a CPA firm.  We do not perform any sort of attestation engagements. We do this on purpose. We do not market ourselves as CPAs because we don’t do things like audits.  We do not want to be a CPA firm. Instead, we focus on helping companies with accounting problems and have the accounting work outsourced to us. We also provide consulting work.

 

You do not have to be a CPA to do “accounting” but adhering to the frequently updated accounting principles and guidance provided by the AICPA, FASB and SEC will make you a better, more professional accountant.  Keeping a current CPA license shows that you know and do this.

 

Different Types of CPAs..

CPAs can specialize in many different areas.  Some hold out to be practicing CPAs, others join CPA firms, and others have a current license but do not hold themselves out to be a CPA that practices and provides attestation engagements.

 

You would not go to your cardiologist for a colonoscopy, so why would you to go your tax preparer who is a CPA for managerial financial statements?

 

These are some areas that CPAs can specialize in:

 

Often, I am introduced to a business owner or CEO running a multimillion-dollar business and I ask them about their accounting department.  They tell me that they have a bookkeeper, and a CPA, but the CPA is the tax preparer.  The same person that has been preparing the tax return for years who is often a trusted advisor.  I love tax CPAs; I have a good friend who prepares my taxes and she’s a CPA. I would never try to prepare my own tax return because that is a specialized field, and the tax preparer must know the latest tax laws.

 

This is not a knock on Tax CPAs. Most of them are very good at what they do, but it’s safe to say that someone who spends their entire full time work week on tax is not going to be the right person to assist you with running your business and preparing managerial financial statements per U.S. GAAP. Many tax returns are on a cash basis, and the tax preparer is assisting the business owner to minimize the tax liability. This means expense as much as you can and have the smallest net income or negative income if possible.  In running a business and managerial accounting, we want to have the biggest bottom line as possible and highest margins.

 

So, are you starting to see why there are two different roles?

 

As managerial accountants (CPAs that know U.S. GAAP), we have experience running companies.  We have been Controllers, CFOs, and CEOs of companies.  We have managed through financial distress and economic down turns. We have managed payroll, treasury and other functions.  We manage cashflow and we are focused on maximizing margins and cash flow.  We want Earnings Before, Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (“EBITDA”) to be as high as possible because that means your operating cash flow will be high and the value of your business will be high.  We want the value of your business to increase.  Your tax preparer, who is an expert in their own field is only focused on the smallest bottom line as possible and the current tax law that is applicable.

 

Monthly Financial Statements

I am sure I will get some heat from good tax CPAs, but I am simply pointing out that we all have our own area of specialty.  Business owners and CEOs need to understand that a Tax CPA may not be the best person to consult with about running your day-to-day operation or preparing your monthly financial statements.  As a business leader you need a monthly management report that includes financial statements on an accrual basis per U.S. GAAP. You need KPIs and dashboards for both the financial and operating side of the business.  You also need tools such as a budget, cash flow forecasts and flash reports.  Margin analysis and cost accounting if you are a manufacturer.  These are things that a good managerial accountant can provide you and something that the Tax CPA will likely not be able to provide or provide with little accuracy.

 

Growing Companies Need More…

It is just a fact of a growing company.  When you are running a company with millions in revenue you will need more resources.  A tax CPA for sure, attorney, insurance broker and a good accounting staff that is more than a Bookkeeper.  Good managerial accounting is required for growing companies. You’ll eventually need a Controller, who is probably someone that holds a CPA license, and eventually a solid CFO.  A solid professional accounting department will pay for itself.  Do not be afraid to make that investment. The financial health of your business is critical, the only way to measure it is with professional accounting and solid financial reporting at the end of each month.

 

Strategy for Managing Cash, How to Manage Cash Flow

Accounting VS. Bookkeeping

In our industry we often run into businesses that do not understand the difference between bookkeeping and accounting.  It is not the business owner’s fault. After all, they are in the business of making money for whatever service or product they sell.  But, to know if you are making any money you need to measure the results of all transactions. That is where bookkeeping and accounting are required.

 

Most small business start the same way… the owner is the CEO, CFO, salesperson, AND the person that puts together quotes and delivers the product or service.  As the company grows the owner will hire more people and then find themselves with a business invoicing 10, 20, 30 million in revenue and more.   Now that they have tens of millions in sales, they are going to spend money on marketing, salespeople, insurance, rent… but very little on “accounting”.  After all its just bookkeeping, right? Wrong.

 

What is the difference you ask?

 

BOOKKKEEPING

Bookkeeping is taking a transaction and entering that transaction into whatever accounting system you have (Quickbooks/Netsuite etc…).  The bookkeeper then pushes a button to print. An invoice is entered for a sale, and a vendor invoice is entered as an expense and a payable.  That’s it.  There is usually no thought from the bookkeeper as to the process, or what the transaction does to the income statement or balance sheet.   Anyone that can use software and read, can enter things into a system.  Some bookkeepers learn how to reconcile the cash account much like we reconcile our check books at home, but there is no application of accounting principles to bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is a clerical exercise, not an accounting function.

 

ACCOUNTING

Accounting is applying accounting methodologies and principles to those transactions entered into the system.  Understanding what each transaction does to the income statement and balance sheet, and understanding the ever changing accounting principles and applying them to the business.  This can get pretty complex which is why CPAs often get involved and why many companies go through an audit or review of their business.  Accounting has been a profession for generations and there is a reason why it exists, so yes, it costs money to have your accounting properly completed.  You will either need to hire a qualified accountant/CPA or outsource the accounting function. Beware, when I say CPA I do not mean the one who does your taxes. CPA’s are specialized and you’ll need a managerial CPA that will create your financial documents per U.S. GAAP.

 

Not applying the correct accounting principles and methodologies will lead to misleading financial statements. That means that your financial statements do not reflect the proper margins of the business and proper balances on your balance sheet.

 

Each transaction in a company starts with bookkeeping.  Someone needs to enter each transaction into a system.  But then immediately an accountant must apply the accounting principles to those transactions.

 

Time and time again we see businesses think they are “saving money” by hiring a bookkeeper to keep their books and records.   Then the business cannot make sense of the margins, or they are suffering a cash crunch, and they do not understand why.  In business it is just a fact that as you grow your accounting process and reporting must get more sophisticated.  As a company grows to 5 million, 10 million in revenue you must have what we call “a professional accounting staff”.  This does not mean you need 5 bodies in the accounting department, it just means you need the right people on the bus, and they need to be in the right seat on the bus.

 

One of the most basic accounting principles is using accruals in your accounting to properly reflect the timing of the transactions.   We often see good size businesses either on cash basis, or some blend of cash and accrual basis.  Incorrectly using accruals in your business means your financial statements are not reflecting reality.  Cleaning up and converting cash to accrual financial statements represents a good part of our work at The Strategic CFO, LLC.    It is an eye opener to CEOs and business owners when they see that the financial statements now truly reflect their business.  Most CEOs and business owners have a gut feeling about their business.  And the really good ones are right about their gut feeling.  They know their business, they know their margins, but the income statement generated does not reflect the business performance.  That is usually because they are using bookkeeping, not accounting.   Once the business owner can look at a financial report that makes sense, and properly reflects the business, it is a good feeling.   Sometimes CEOs think they are running an operation that makes sense, but cash always seems to be tight.  “Cash is King”.   Every decision and transaction either generates cash or consumes cash.  With proper financial statements that have the correct methodologies and accounting principles applied, a business leader or owner can look at problem areas and make decisions to correct the situation.

 

There is no way around it.  If you grow your business and are now dealing with millions in revenue and millions of expenses, you cannot afford not having a professional set of accounting records.  You must have people that know the latest accounting principles (CPAs) that can guide your staff accountant and bookkeeper.  As companies grow, they will need a Controller, then eventually a CFO, and if you get to 50 million in revenue or more you are likely needing a Controller, CFO and an accounting department.  Having the right people in place will pay for themselves over and over again.  You will have a financially healthy company and you will be able to weather the economic storms that are ahead.  You will have monthly financial reports that tell you if anything is wrong in your business and you will be able to properly plan ahead by making smart decisions.

 

Strategy for Managing Cash, How to Manage Cash Flow

How to Improve Your Resume

The concept of resumes might seem difficult to grasp at times. After all, you’re set with the task of conveying all of your life’s accomplishments and skills in a single sheet of paper. Creating a good resume is an essential skill necessary to be successful in the workforce. A good resume can be the difference between getting your dream job or not. In this blog, we will demonstrate some tips on how to improve your resume.

How to Improve Your Resume

Make Your Resume Stand Out

Recruiters have the task of going through countless number of resumes, so it is crucial that yours stands out from the pack. This doesn’t mean to have exotic fonts or arrangements, but it should convey your accomplishments and skills in an order that could be best perceived by the reader. Here are some tips that could help make your resume stand out:

Tailor Your Resume

Tailor your resume to the specific role you are applying for. Make sure that you are emphasizing the skills and experiences that are most relevant for the position you look to apply to. Completely read and understand the job you are applying for and make it clear in your resume why you are applying.

Use Keywords

Most companies and recruiters now use keywords to find the qualified candidates. If you don’t use the correct ones, your resume can be left out by the electronic applicant tracking systems.  To help you find the best keywords, try looking into online job postings and the company website.

Proofread

Proofread it and ensure that there are absolutely no errors Read it line by line, read it backwards and read it aloud until you are absolutely sure that there are no errors. Mistakes whether big or small can have a significant impact on the recruiter’s decision. A simple mistake can make it seem like you are not actually “Detail Oriented” or that you are a “Perfectionist” and can lead to the difference between getting a call back or not.

Be Professional

Use a profesional format that is easy to read. Recruiters and hiring managers can see straight through the fancy fonts and colors. They want to get straight to the point so make sure you have a profesional format that is easy to read and pleasing to the eye.

Bullet Points

Use bullet points not paragraphs. Be aware that recruiters have a lot of other resumes to look at, so make your information concise and to the point, nobody wants to read a long paragraph that could have easily been summarized in a bullet point or two.

Quantify

Quantify your previous accomplishments by using metrics. Don’t just put your previous job responsibilities but explain how well you did in them. For example: All Basketball players have the responsibility to put the ball in the basket, but the things that really differentiate them is how often they do that and how good they are at doing that. Use numbers to show how you excelled in your previous jobs and how it can lead to success in this new job.

Have a Cover Letter

Add a cover letter to set yourself apart. Almost half of recruiters said specifically that a cover letter can set your resume apart from the others. Cover letter let you show your personality and build a rapport. The only time you should not write a cover letter is when the job you’re applying to specifically says not too. In any other scenario it can provide you with an extra edge, so why not spend a little extra time on the cover letter if it may mean you increase your likelihood of getting a callback.

Hyperlink

If the application is online, add hyperlinks to your online profiles. This will make it easier for them by linking your profiles such as your LinkedIn, your personal website, or your blog. However, if the resume is online, making it a hyperlink can immediately send them to the designated website within seconds. Make sure you also tune up your websites before that.

Things That Shouldn’t Be On Your Resume

When you upload a resume, you are competing with numerous other people for the hiring managers attention. While there are many ways to make your resume more noticeable, there are certainly ways to make it look inferior. There are various steps and measures that you can take to prevent your resume from appearing substandard.

Here are several key things you shouldn’t put on your resume, including the following:

Also, don’t post in a Word document. The formatting may be different depending on how views it. Save your resume as a PDF.

What Recruiters Look For

According to a poll made by CareerBuilder, recruiters said would make them pay more attention to certain resumes :

  • Tailored to their position: 61%
  • Cover letter: 49%
  • Addressed to the hiring manager or recruiter by name: 26%
  • Hyperlinks to the applicant’s online portfolio, blog, or website: 21%

Instead of applying for multiple companies, interviewing for hours, and risking not even finding the right job, Short|LYST is the one stop shop for connecting you to our network of employers. Our team of experienced HR and financial executives take the financial and time burden off of both the candidates and the employers. All the candidate has to do is become a member and interview for Short|LYST then be vetted and listed. Learn more about Short|LYST here.

How to Improve your Resume

Financial Ratios

See also:
Quick Ratio Analysis
Price to Book Value Analysis
Price Earnings Growth Ratio Analysis
Time Interest Earned Ratio Analysis

Use of Financial Ratios

Financial Ratios are used to measure financial performance against standards. Analysts compare financial ratios to industry averages (benchmarking), industry standards or rules of thumbs and against internal trends (trends analysis). The most useful comparison when performing financial ratio analysis is trend analysis. Financial ratios are derived from the three financial statements; Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Statement of Cash Flows.

Financial ratios are used in Flash Reports to measure and improve the financial performance of a company on a weekly basis.

Financial Ratio Categories

The following five (5) major financial ratio categories are included in this list.

  • Liquidity Ratios
  • Activity Ratios
  • Debt Ratios
  • Profitability Ratios
  • Market Ratios

Liquidity Ratios

Liquidity ratios measure whether there will be enough cash to pay vendors and creditors of the company. Some examples of liquidity ratios include the following:

Activity Ratios

Activity ratios measure how long it will take the company to turn assets into cash. Some examples of activity ratios include the following:

Debt Ratios

Debt ratios measure the ability of the company to pay its’ long term debt. Some examples of debt ratios include the following:

Profitability Ratios

The profitability ratios measure the profitability and efficiency in how the company deploys assets to generate a profit. Some examples of profitability ratios include the following:

Market Ratios

The market ratios measure the comparative value of the company in the marketplace. Some examples of market ratios include the following:

If you want to check whether your unit economics are sound, then download your free guide here.

Financial Ratios, Financial Ratio Categories, Use of Financial Ratios

Financial Ratios, Financial Ratio Categories, Use of Financial Ratios

Collect Accounts Receivable

See Also:
Accounts Receivable
Accounts Receivable Collection Letter
Financial Ratios
Accounts Receivable Turnover
What is Factoring Receivables?
Accounts Receivable Turnover Analysis
Net 30 Credit Terms

Collect Accounts Receivable

Every company has them…past due and slow pay accounts. Here are some ways to help keep your cash coming in the door and collect accounts receivables.

Improve Accounts Receivable Collection and Invoicing

Commercial and industrial experience has proven the following percentages… Of ten new customers, six will pay on time, two will pay in 60 to 90 days and two will become collection problems.

Always watch your new sales. As money becomes tighter, you will receive one-time sales from firms that may be experiencing financial problems. While these customers will bounce from business to business, they need your close attention if you want to retain them. A useful management tool for collecting accounts receivable is the Flash Report.

Credit

Be familiar with your customers’ credit. Only extend credit to organizations you feel confident will pay you. Make sure you don’t have to write off your hard earned sales through bad debt!

Pay close attention to the credit terms you are offering your customers. One good way to collect accounts receivable (ar) is to do so before you deliver your product and structure your terms accordingly. An example of this would be a propane company in the winter months; nothing works better than to be paid prior to delivery.

Examples of accounts receivable payment terms:

For custom manufacturing companies:

50% before work begins, 40% before delivery and 10% after delivery

For wholesalers and retailers:

Depending on creditworthiness, 10 days net for companies with good credit, prior to delivery for companies with questionable credit or those that are past due.

Develop a minimum sales order that will require a credit check

Check three references on a new client

If payment history is greater than 60 days obtain supervisor approval

Perform the following steps when invoicing the customer:

  • Invoice within 24 to 48 hours after performing service
  • Review invoices for accuracy
  • Double check that everything has been billed
  • Note payment terms on the invoice

[box]For more tips on how to optimize your accounts receivable, download your free A/R Checklist here.[/box]

Assign Responsibility for Accounts Receivable Collections

Use a dedicated collections individual. Then designate one person in your organization to be the accounts receivable collections representative, someone who can make the collection calls and stay on top of accounts receivable. There are some personality traits that you should look for when assigning this function. Some traits to look for: A professional presence, adept at working with and handling difficult people, skilled at follow up and well organized in order to document collection efforts.

You may want to pay your accounts receivable collections individual a commission as an incentive to keep accounts receivable collections current. Alternatively, you might consider paying a bonus at certain increments based on established criteria.

The goal is to work with delinquent companies and receive payment as quickly and cost effectively as possible!

For many companies, add accounts receivable collections to a current employee’s responsibilities as it should not be a full time commitment. If there is a legitimate reason the customer has not paid, then it’s best to get this taken care of early so as not to impact your cash flow for any longer than necessary. Never underestimate the impact of reminder and collection calls!

Accounts Receivable (AR) Collection by Telephone

Given the use of voice mail the effectiveness of phone calls are somewhat diminished. However, they are still an effective means of collection. The phone calls enable the credit manager to present their case to the debtor for immediate response. During the conversation you can determine whether the claim will be paid in full and when. This is the time to determine the reasons for non-payment.

We have put together the following three main reasons for non-payment:

  • Lack of funds. Most non-payments result from lack of funds.
  • Dispute. Discuss disputes to determine whether or not they are valid. Adjust the valid claim quickly and fairly, the non-valid claim exposed and immediate payment requested.
  • Refusal to pay. If it is refusal to pay, you must take third-party steps to enforce payment. Consider hiring a collections attorney.

Check out the following tips on phone collections:

  • Identify yourself and the company
  • Call the person in charge
  • Ask for the payment in full by a specific date
  • If the bill is in dispute, suggest a solution
  • Put it in writing if a solution is met
  • Set up a personal meeting with the client if the solution is not met

Download The A/R Checklist


Managing the Accounts Receivable Process

To quote Peter Drucker: You can’t manage it if you don’t measure it! The same holds true for collecting accounts receivable! So how do you measure your effectiveness in collecting accounts receivable?

Daily Sales Outstanding (DSO)

What is DSO?

DSO is the average of your accounts receivable. The numerical accuracy of the number is not as important as the trend. But blend an estimate of how long it takes to collect your accounts receivable. If you are making progress then it should be trending lower. First, calculate where you are today.

How do you calculate DSO?

Use the following formula to calculate DSO:

DSO = 365/ (Annual Credit Sales/ Average Accounts Receivable)

Commercial Collection Servicies

Hire a collection agency. Ways to find a reputable collection agency include referrals from other companies as well as professional firms and organizations with which your company does business. No matter how you receive the referral, be sure to ask the collection agency for customer references and call the references. Ask some of the following questions:

  • How responsive is the collection agency to your questions?
  • Do you have a report on the progress of your accounts promptly and in a format that is user friendly?
  • Do they remit proceeds quickly and accurately?
  • Can you resolve these issues quickly?

Final Comments

Review your internal process. Remember, collecting accounts receivable is an internal process as well! Before initiating collection calls, be sure your internal house is in order. It is vitally important that your cash applications are timely and done correctly. It’s extremely embarrassing and inefficient when you run into the following situation. Your collections representative conducts a collection call only to find that the customer has in fact paid the bill and the payment has been misapplied. Furthermore, a similar situation also exists when your employee makes a collection call when the payment was received 2 weeks earlier.

Accounts Receivable Collections

AR Collections should start with your cash applications function. Remember, your process here is critical. So follow it without exception. Further more, apply payments quickly and accurately. If you cannot identify a payment to an invoice, then call the customer in a timely manner to identify what is being paid. This is absolutely critical!

Issue invoices that make cash application quick and easy. If you have large volumes of invoices or are short staffed, automate this process. Then, have an organized and mechanical follow up of accounts at regular intervals in your systems. For instance, use 10,30 and 60 days past due.

Any program that permits three statements or a two to three month time lag before the first collection step is taken will result in a lower recovery ratio. Make collections update meetings a priority for the controller and collections person. At the meeting, review collection notes, progress and next steps.

Know the Cost of Past Due Accounts

If you cover your cash shortfalls with a line of credit, then consider that at an interest rate of 10% on your line, every $100,000 in past due accounts costs you $833 per month or $10,000 per year.

Train Your Customers to be Good Payers

Creating an accounts receivable collection process and following it consistently will allow you to accomplish this important goal.

For more ways to add value to your company, download your free A/R Checklist to see how simple changes in your A/R process can free up a significant amount of cash.

collect accounts receivable

[box]Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Cash Flow Tune-Up Tool Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to get ahead of your cash flow.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs[/box]

collect accounts receivable

The Dreaded “F” Word

See Also:
What is Factoring Receivables
Accounting for Factored Receivables
Journal Entries for Factored Receivables
Can Factoring Be Better Than a Bank Loan?
History of Factoring
How Factoring Can Make or Save Money
Factoring is Not for My Company
The What, When, and Where About Factoring
Working Capital

Factoring: The Dreaded “F” Word

The dreaded “F” word, FACTORING. Now that factoring has been said, I am sure we all are feeling a little more at ease. I was in a meeting recently with a prospect, a Houston based oilfield servicing company, and their CPA whose name was John.

The company was experiencing cash flow problems because of growth. And they have more new business opportunities coming up in the near future. They were trying to determine how to capitalize on these opportunities in their situation of stressed cash flow. The topic of factoring their accounts receivable came up and John said “Only companies about to go broke factor their accounts receivable!” Knowing the CPA profession as I do since I was a CPA earlier in my career, I knew John’s concern was cost. So I had to ask him why he felt that way. He did not disappoint me when he said “factoring is too expensive.” I then told him that I would not normally recommend factoring to any client unless it will make or save them money.


Download the Free 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow Whitepaper


Situations Where Factoring Would Make or Save Money

John then asked me “Tell us some situations where factoring would make or save money.” Knowing that he thought he had me now, I gave him the following examples:

Conclusion

Taken back a bit John still held his ground by saying “It is still to expensive and it will break a company!” Being more perplexed than ever, I told John “Let me explain in terms I think you will understand.”

Let’s say the oilfield service company sells their service for $50 and has a resulting profit of $5. Now let’s say they have an opportunity for more business but do not have the capital (cash) to take on the jobs. So, would you agree they will not make any profits? John reluctantly responded with “Yes”. Let’s say the company has access to the capital (cash) presently locked up in their accounts receivable. Now, they can take advantage of their opportunity in the following manner. They still sell their services for $50 and now have a $3.50 profit instead of a $5 profit. In other words, your client will make $3.50 with me or $0 without me.

Before John had a chance to comment, the business owner said “I like your deal. Factoring can make me money.” Finally, John agreed, and the meeting moved forward.

For more tips on how to improve cash flow, click here to access our 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper.

factoring, Situations Where Factoring Would Make or Save Money

[box]Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs[/box]

factoring, Situations Where Factoring Would Make or Save Money

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