5 MIN READ
In the busy world of firm ownership, shouldering a full plate of responsibilities can often feel like part of the job description. From following up with clients, to sitting in tech demos, to navigating a regulatory audit, all tasks eventually fall on you. Because you can’t get more hours in the day, efficiency and time management are incredibly valuable skills that successful business owners must hone. However, being in charge doesn’t mean that you need to burden yourself with as many responsibilities as possible.
As your responsibilities increase, being selective with how you allocate your time means delegating duties to trustworthy contractors, teammates, or service providers. Delegating tasks is not an admittance of defeat; it is simply a way to ensure that your time and energy are spent on the activities that you do best and enjoy most. You work hard as a firm owner, yes, but you should enjoy what you do, after all!
When it comes to tasks that most firm owners don’t enjoy, tracking, reporting, and analyzing financial information are often at the top of the list. They can be very cumbersome tasks, and your business (and you) may benefit from offloading these tasks to a bookkeeper, accountant, or controller/CFO. You’re probably thinking that the differences between these three professions are minuscule, and it’s easy to see why. However, these roles all have subtle differences and as a firm owner, you should know their unique functions so that you can decide if and how they’ll make your life easier by delegating tasks to them. Let’s dive in and discuss the unique role each plays.
Bookkeeping typically involves the day-to-day processing, organizing, and categorizing of transactional data. Data entry and record-keeping are the primary functions of bookkeeping—these aspects are foundational to a successful business. Bookkeeping services primarily revolve around account reconciliations and accurate transactional postings. Bookkeepers track vendor and customer-related data and routinely monitor the short-term cash flow of the business. If you’re already bored, we don’t blame you! It’s not the flashiest profession and you probably shouldn’t personally tackle it, but it's an essential function nonetheless. The value of a bookkeeping service yields a consistent and tailored financial information infrastructure.
Whether a business outsources or performs internal bookkeeping activities, it is an administrative task that generates useful data for a business. The size, complexity, and maturity of the business are not make-or-break factors when examining the value proposition of bookkeeping—good bookkeeping stands to benefit any business that requires transactional reporting and record-keeping, especially those that operate in a regulated industry (yep, that’s you).
Tax preparation and generating accurate financial reports are among the primary responsibilities of an accountant. Accountants rely on sound financial record-keeping to accurately generate financial reports for internal personnel. Hiring an accountant without providing them reliable financial data would be like hiring a personal trainer and never going to the gym for sessions with them. Accountants can offer incredible value, but you have to create a foundation for them to be successful through accurate and consistent bookkeeping.
An accountant presents an opportunity to better strategize and direct your business dealings, both in the immediate and distant future. Accountants offer immense value to a young business or one that is in the process of starting operations. Determining the optimal business structure, assistance with compliance, and developing a comprehensive business plan are all essential tasks that are naturally best suited for an accountant. An accountant can leverage information and offer holistic solutions at every level of your organization.
These roles frequently prepare budgets, analyze financial statements, and direct capital structures and expenditures. If your business is struggling to accurately forecast, identify trends, or understand the implications of potential activities, then a Controller/CFO offers a versatile solution. As a business owner, creating and utilizing high-level analysis is incredibly difficult to balance with your operational responsibilities. Bookkeeping and accounting relate in that they primarily deal with how a business is operating; a CFO/Controller will be more focused on how a business ought to be operating.
Bookkeeping and accounting both supplement various processes and elements of the business. A bookkeeper represents a meticulous and attentive service tailored to daily operations, while the accountant is specialized in business development and periodic reporting. There is no one function that is inherently superior to another; their value is almost entirely determined by the nature, infrastructure, and goals of a business. In deciding between a bookkeeper and an accountant, evaluating your needs and objectives will ultimately determine which stands to offer more value and utility to your business.
Controllers/CFOs offer insight and analysis of the financial data produced from bookkeeping and accounting; they interpret data and seek to provide useful information so that you can make informed decisions. So to summarize, bookkeepers enter and record information, accountants ensure their accuracy and generate reports, and controllers/CFO’s extract information from reports and offer high-level financial knowledge.
It is incredibly common for a business owner to have a natural inclination towards analysis and evaluation; however, a flawed set of books prevents any potential benefits from an accounting-related inquiry. Accountants and controllers/CFOs are only as good as the information with which they are provided—bookkeeping is a necessary fixture of any business foundation. Offloading the responsibility to a bookkeeping expert will allow you more time to work on your business, serve your customers, and improve your service. Your primary objective should be to maximize your time spent on revenue-generating activities rather than on administrative tasks. A good bookkeeper can save time and money while also providing you with peace of mind that your financial data is categorized and recorded accurately.
Business owners attempting to manage their own books have the potential for a wide array of difficulties that are tough to overcome. Common issues stem from not properly tracking expenses, failing to properly reconcile books with bank statements, and not separating personal and business finances. Mistakes become compounded over time, which can leave a chaotic and lengthy set of records to be fixed. Identifying and fixing past mistakes is decidedly more difficult and stressful than if the books had been prepared correctly the first time—trust us on this one. A qualified bookkeeping service ensures that your books will be set up and updated correctly, accurately, and timely. Just as a business owner should consider delegating things such as marketing and IT management, they should also seek to delegate their transactional record keeping.
If you find yourself wanting an industry-specific bookkeeping and accounting service, the XY Bean Counters may be the most ideal choice. XYBC's team of experts offer a thorough and insightful lens into the regulatory and compliance requirements of the financial advisory industry. These regulations are numerous and often vary from state to state. Many states require FP&A businesses to record transactions on an accrual basis, but most bookkeeping services operate on a cash basis.
Frankly, XYBC is a service with a wider range of offerings than the typical bookkeeping service. Our experts frequently handle accounting-based functions; they gross up payroll, track and gross up revenue sources, and maintain a healthy chart of accounts. Data entry is performed with the purpose of easily generating reports and analysis. XY Bean Counters have the expertise and qualifications to resolve complex accounting issues, as well as consistently rock out routine data input.
Dealing with the hassle of educating your bookkeeper on the ins and outs of financial advisory standards is a painful and time-consuming task to undertake, especially when you're looking to save your time and energy in the first place. XYBC has a major leg up as we need no introduction to the financial advisory world—we live and breathe it. This niche position amongst comparative services is a testament to our capabilities and dedication to our clients. Leverage the expertise of the bean counters to help you crush your goals and keep your focus on the things that you do best, and love to do most. Check out how you can work with XYBC here.