cost control

Cost Control Tips for Business

Want to boost your bottom line? Think cost control, whether it’s hiring, technology or supplier contracts, it impacts your profits. It could also determine the long-term success of your company. 

Cost control may be one of the most complex aspects of operating a business.  However, implementing a solid cost control strategy will help you keep your company’s performance strong in varying economic environments.

Approach Cost Control Positively

It’s best to approach the subject of cost control in an enthusiastic manner. Cutting your budget can often have a negative impact on company morale but try to look for the good in the budget cut. For instance, cutting the budget in one area may free up enough spending to implement  new equipment, technology, or other resources that the company and employees desperately need.

Evaluate Necessary Spending

There are some costs that are completely unavoidable but should be accounted for. An example of such spending includes technology and staff. These are the costs that you know you will incur regularly, so you must move them to the top of the list.

Negotiate Your Vendor Contracts

Periodically, let your vendors know you are price shopping.  Many vendors have loyalty programs and may be able to cut your costs in order to keep you.  If you are leasing, evaluate your lease contract.  If the market is soft,  negotiate a lower rent.

Rely on Expertise

Don’t try to improve cost control on your own! There are experts who can help guide you in the right direction. You can obtain quick access to valuable cost saving information by hiring a financial analyst to review your situation and make recommendations.

Consider Interim or “GAP” Professionals

Hiring an interim consultant helps keep current employees from becoming overwhelmed when there is a temporary spike in workload.  Additionally, by working with consultants on a project basis, companies can quickly access subject matter experts as needed, without the expense of hiring a new full-time employee.

Artificial Intelligence – Technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) is accurately automating complex and repetitive tasks, reducing operating costs and increasing efficiency.  By taking on the repetitive tasks, AI allows employees to spend valuable time on more important aspects of the business.

Go Green

CFL and LED lights use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Businesses can save thousands of dollars annually by using these eco-friendly technologies.

Motion sensitive switches or switches with timers can turn off lights when nobody is in the room, avoiding the wasting of electricity. 

Overview

Cost control may not be the most exciting aspect of running a company, but it is crucial to the long-term health of your company.  

business continuity management

Business Continuity Management

If tomorrow your business was targeted by a natural disaster, cyber-attack, or total systems failure, could your company handle it? You may be surprised to learn that disasters are responsible for over 186 billion dollars’ worth of economic loss. The capability of managing the risks associated with disasters, is imperative. A good place to start is by developing a business continuity management plan (BCM).

What is BCM?

Essentially, a BCM outlines procedures a company must follow in the face of an operations disruption.  An effective Business Continuity Plan should cover business processes, assets, human resources, business partners and more.

When Should You Create a BCM?

A BCM should be created before a disaster occurs. Don’t wait for an issue to arise to create the plan as this may lead to disorganization and improper strategies. You may need to create a plan for additional employees, the utilization of a backup system, or a third-party resource that takes over in certain situations. You’ll have to consider what your company will need to continue its operations with the least amount of interference.

What is Included in the BCM?

The BCM is outlined by three core areas: crisis management and communication, business resumption planning, and IT disaster recovery. These primary areas should be what you focus on when creating the plan as the entire functioning of the business will fall into one of these three categories. If you have such areas covered, then it is likely that your company can continue to function even if disaster tries to wipe it out.

Support for BCM

A solid business continuity management plan will include ownership, custodianship, and sponsorship in order to thrive. You’ll need to select individuals within the business to be a part of the BCM plan. Focus on those that have a bird’s eye view of the entire company and have a background in risk management. Taking care to select the right people will go one step further in ensuring that the business continuity management plan has the best chances for success.

Form more Business Continuity Management tips,

check out Combating Data Breaches

SOX compliance training

Finance Team SOX Compliance Training

In 2006, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was passed, and this was a moment that changed the finance sector forever. Essentially, this act regulated financial practices. Thirteen years later, many businesses have succeeded with the implementations, but others are still struggling with SOX compliance.

As with any new financial compliance, the transition can be somewhat challenging, especially for companies who heavily relied on a regulation that has been significantly changed.  However, companies that find themselves non-compliant can certainly make a move in the right direction by incorporating a SOX compliance training program for their employees.

Make the Investment

Proper SOX compliance training will take a bit of time, money, and additional resources to incorporate in your business. However, it is certainly worth the effort. This type of training will cover the basics of the SOX act as well as teaching how small errors could lead to big impacts on the long-term success of the business. The type of training, time commitment, etc. is something leadership will have to determine. The size, budget, and goals of the company should all be taken into consideration.

Add Value to Your Business

It’s imperative to have professionals on your team who have proper SOX compliance training. Each person that learns and understands SOX will be able to help steer the company toward financial compliance goals.

Options for SOX Training

There is a multitude of options when it comes to the educational platforms for this type of training. One of the most common choices is in-house training, while other people choose to rely on the expertise of a consultant. This choice is likely determined by the size and existing resources of the company. Either way, the choice to incorporate the raining into your business is a sound investment.

Overview

SOX compliance training is a critical resource for your company. It’s important to determine the status of your employee’s SOX knowledge and how they incorporate the knowledge into their role with the company. A simple training could yield a rewarding result for your business. 

mistakes

4 Mistakes Growing Companies Must Stop Making

Growth is often the fruit of hard work; however, when a company grows without a strategy, it can become a pain point for the business. During growth, the company must be flexible and make transitions to keep up with the transformation. Failure to do so could mean the end of the business. Here are a few mistakes that fast-growing companies need to stop making if they want to continue to thrive:

Mistake #1 Borrowing too much money

Just because you can borrow a lot of money, doesn’t mean that you should. Take a the time to thoroughly evaluate your entire business. Make sure that there is a equitable purpose for each dollar that you borrow.

Mistake #2 Not having a financial team

Before you make any financial decisions, you should consult a professional. An accounting and finance professional will be able to break down the numbers of your business and provide the proper guidance that you need to make the most informed choices. You might, consider hiring a consultant until you are ready to add a full-time financial expert as part of your regular team.

Mistake #3 Spending too much money

Just because business is good right now, doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Most businesses have lean times, so you should make sure that you’re keeping back enough capital to help you navigate harder times. Until you know that your business can handle heavy spending, be money conscious about each and every purchase.

Mistake #4 Hiring “bargains” instead of “experts”

One of the biggest challenges for growing companies is the urgency they feel to hire  when demand for their products or services increases. Therefore, it’s common to make mistakes as growing companies strive to string together a team quickly. This can lead to hiring employees based on their pay grade rather than their expertise, which can cost more in the end.  Hiring bargain staff might allow you to get twice as many employees, but if those employees don’t have the skills or motivation required to hit their targets it could cost you more in the long-run.  Remember, you get what you pay for.

Fast growth does not guarantee longevity. If your business is starting to grow, don’t stop aggressively nurturing it until it forms solid roots.

consultant

Considering Becoming a Consultant?

Many accounting and finance professionals who are seeking diverse projects, competitive compensation and a rewarding work-life balance choose careers in consulting.   Coincidentally, many employers turn to interim financial consultants because they only need a particular skill-set for the duration of a project. Additionally, many employers will bring in an interim consultant to train and support their employees during system upgrades.

Consultant Project Options

Interim or “GAP Financial Management —  Using interim staffing allows businesses to function smoothly while in management transition.

Project Management — These consultants establish project plans, timetables, resource requirements and circumvent potential obstacles.  

Staff Augmentation — During busy seasons many employers bring in short-term consultants to ease their staff’s workload.

Benefits 

  • Flexibility 
  • Diverse Projects 
  • Learning New Skills 

Challenges 

  • High Pressure
  • Fluctuating Expectations 
  • Learning New Office Policies 

Overview

Demand is high for financial professionals who can provide support and expertise on an interim and project basis. If consulting interests you and you have relevant experience in a Fortune 1000 company and are a Big 4 CPA and/or an MBA from a Top 25 Business School, click here, to start searching our available opportunities. 

pmp certification

PMP Certification Benefits

Professional certifications demonstrate a documented level of expertise established according to set standards within a given field. That being the case, perhaps it is time to learn more about the PMP certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a professional organization dedicated to advancing the field of project management. The PMP certification confirms your ability to lead and direct teams as a project manager (PM).

List Your PM Qualifications

Begin this look into PMP certification with an accounting of your project management history. Note the responsibilities you have fulfilled that align with this partial sample of typical PM activities:

  • Effectively leads teams of various sizes.
  • Coordinates cross disciplinary members to achieve established benchmarks.
  • Prepares performance and financial reports for leadership, regulatory bodies, and funding agencies/organizations.
  • Manages project budgets, including oversight of fund/revenue acquisition, expense authorization, and contract coordination.
  • Develops and implements systems, procedures, and training that lead to positive project outcomes.

 Review PMP Certification Benefits

Most notable is that the PMP Certification moves your resume from a hiring manager’s ‘received’ list to the ‘review’ list. Others include:

  • A boost in salary from 5-20%
  • Validation of performance that meets an agreed upon set of international standards.
  • A certification that is truly global, offering the potential benefit of employment in a multinational environment.
  • One of the leading PMP jobs in the U.S. is consulting, a management role for projects needing financial leadership.

Assess Your Readiness for Becoming a Certified PMP

As with other certifications, the PMP certificate has set educational and experience requirements to fulfill prior to taking the exam. These are:

  • Regardless of educational level, you will need 35 hours of PM education.
  • A minimum of a secondary degree (high school diploma, an associate degree or global equivalent), and 7500 hours of leading or managing projects; or
  • A bachelor/four-year degree, and 4500 hours of directing or leading projects.
  • Set requirements for maintaining certification.

If you have a PMP certification and relevant experience in a Fortune 1000 company and/or a Big 4 CPA and/or an MBA from a Top 25 Business School, please click here for information about our current openings.

credit losses standard

Credit Losses Standard Tips for Audit Committees

The new credit losses standard being introduced by FASB focuses on new credit losses. And the financial services sector will certainly have to wade through some challenges as it’s implemented. 

However, the good news is that there is also a tool that can be used to help reduce some of the concerns and keep businesses on track as much as possible. It’s critical for companies to be aware of the new standard even though it won’t be fully introduced in the private and public sectors for a couple of years.

What are the Requirements of the New Credit Losses Standard?

The new standard requires an expected credit loss (CECL) model and is intended to outline financial reporting of credit losses that financial institutions are expecting for the future. Fortunately, a new Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) tool is being implemented in order to provide committees with valuable information that can help them see how certain aspects could impact their overall business function.

The new standard will be in full swing for public sector companies in the year 2021, and private companies will be effective in 2022.

What Should Committees be Aware of?

In the oversight role, the CAQ indicates that the audit committees should be aware of the following:

  • A full understanding of the standard
  • The methods to make proper credit loss estimates
  • Any issues associated with the company’s previous methods and credit loss experiences
  • A thorough understanding of how the company is forecasting credit loss
  • Just how the standard will impact the financial institution
  • Effectively communicating the new standard both internally as well as with investors
  • How accounting will respond to financial deterioration
  • Permissibility of reversal of credit losses based on net income

Overview

While the new credit losses standard may take some time for companies to implement into their business, the tool will help keep things in mind as you move forward. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will go without issue, but it could reduce some of the expected issues and get financial leaders on track.

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leadership communication

The Pitfalls of Bad Leadership Communication

Strong leadership communication can be the difference between success or total failure of a business. Therefore, it should be a leader’s objective to ensure that their communication remains consistent, effective, and appropriate.

Types of Leadership Communication

Not everybody communicates in the same way, but it’s important to identify what your communication style is how it impacts your colleagues, partners, and employees. Different scenarios will require a slight adjustment in your tone and approach. For instance, motivation may be necessary to get employees back on track after a slip-up. Then again, the direction may be required for a new employee while other situations may require advice-giving, patience, or simply knowing when to stop talking and start listening.

Tap into your communication style to better address the issues as they come up. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to evaluate how you should respond. Not every situation should be handled immediately, and you may need to consider which approach you should take before moving forward.

Issues from Bad Communication

Bad communication can create a crumbling business faster than anything else. If you don’t communicate well, then this could lead to confusion or even hostility in the workplace. Work on keeping your communication transparent and direct, but also positive. If you notice that other factors such as stress or even personal issues are influencing your communication, then it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate how you should communicate within the workplace.

Communication Training

Of course, one of the best things a leader can do is continue communication training. Even if you consider yourself as a strong communicator, it doesn’t hurt to attend conferences, training, or other resources that will help you stay abreast of the latest communication trends. Plus, self-improvement is something everybody can work on continuously during their lifetime. Doing so could very well mean the difference between success or failure for your business. 

Form more communications tips, check out: Communication Skill for Career Success

data breaches

Combating Data Breaches

We live in a time that it’s pretty typical to get notified of data breaches. It’s not something that anyone wants to hear, but it’s important that we know where our information stands so we can better protect it in the future.

Although we may be familiar with data breaches, often, our understanding of what causes them is limited. It’s important to have a solid understanding of the source of the breach in order to be better prepared and possibly prevent it in the future.

Where Do Data Breaches Start?

At the core of a data breach is always the same thing: a person. This is an individual who is tech-savvy enough to break into systems and extract sensitive information. However, it can also stem from people not protecting their information or even providing their information too readily to individuals who have malicious intents. After all, it is our duty to protect our data first and foremost, and that responsibility should not be taken lightly.

What Companies Can Do

One of the best things that companies can do to protect information is to ensure that all employees have proper training. One of the most common tactics of hackers is to create a phishing email, which then leads to a person giving up their information. At that point, the information can be used in a variety of ways.

Fortunately, since training programs have been introduced, breaches via phishing emails have dropped drastically. The hope is that not only will people avoid interacting with this type of scheme, but that they will also report it when it does occur.

Evolution of Data Breaches

Unfortunately, one of the most frustrating things about data breaches is that the moment we think we’ve finally put a lid on some of the common tactics, another method is created. This is why ongoing training is essential.

Hacking may change over time, but we should always be willing to learn those tactics so that we can protect ourselves from moving forward. It’s less about knowing all of the ways a person can accomplish a data breach and more about what we can do once it happens. 

For more tips regarding data breaches, check out: Building a Cybersecurity Plan for the Unknown.

trouble shooting ASC 606

Troubleshooting ASC 606

Private equity CFOs are certainly in a challenging position. While it is a slightly different role than you’ll see within the public sector, the great thing about it is that they can still learn from the challenges and obstacles that the public industry faces. This is especially true when it comes to ASC 606, as we’ve already seen how it impacted the private industry last year.

What is ASC 606?

ASC 606 is a new standard that influences when and how a company recognizes revenue. And yes, this will impact private companies as well—it was adopted January 1, 2019. While there were certainly a lot of issues in the public sector, private companies can learn from those and move forward at a faster, more secure rate.

Essentially, proper revenue reporting is the cornerstone to company success, but it also provides critical insight that may influence investor interest in a company.

What can Private Companies Do?

The best thing that private that the private industry can possibly do is stay ahead of the issues. Being prepared for the potential fallout and concerns of investors is almost a guarantee. Let sponsors in on the process and be as forthcoming as possible about what the new revenue reporting looks like.

Not only will this keep the investor’s confidence intact, but it will help the business run more smoothly overall.

You’ll likely experience shifts in revenue swings, and while this is expected, a good CFO will know how to ride that wave so that the company remains on task and investors understand the impact.

Getting Back to the Basics

While ASC 606 is likely to create some confusion and even possibly some upset initially, a quality CFO will utilize their strategic thinking to ensure that financial climate remains as consistent as possible. This will mean utilizing good judgment, quality communication, and remaining calm during any type of revenue rollercoaster created.

 After all, it’s the skill and ability of the CFO that ensures that new standards don’t totally overtake a company’s ability to thrive. Only those that have such skills will be able to troubleshoot their way toward success.  

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