As the accounting profession evolves, how can small accounting firms offer extra value to their clients and differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive landscape?
It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves at Magic Beans, and the reason we stepped up to offer VCFO services. I could see the shortfall in services provided by traditional firms to businesses with no in-house finance manager. Getting accounts once a year, 9 months after the year end, wasn’t the service that clients needed. And with cloud accounting it didn’t need to be like that. For us, offering VCFO services means we can help our clients who are looking for financial experts to consult in their decision making and position ourselves as a trusted advisor that’s integral to their business.
The concept of a Virtual CFO is relatively new and has emerged as a result of small businesses looking for CFO support that’s more affordable than hiring an in-house equivalent. A VCFO does everything an in-house CFO would do - except we work remotely and spend less time with each client. As VCFO, our responsibilities include monitoring the financial health of a business, offering insight and guidance to aid decision-making, and carrying out back-office jobs such as managing accounts ledgers.
Cloud technology forms the backbone of any VCFO offering. Cloud-based software has helped us become more efficient and productive, as such systems can automate previously labour and time-intensive tasks. We only work with Xero, mainly because that has allowed us to become experts on one system and then work with the add-ons to make sure our clients have the best overall experience.
By using cloud-based software we can easily share or sync data between systems and gain access to real-time reporting - any time, anywhere. As a VCFO it’s really important to have a dependable app-stack that you go back to time and time again.
At Magic Beans, our favourite apps are:
- Float for cash flow forecasting and scenario planning
- Dext (previously known as Receipt Bank) for data entry
- Futrli Advisor for bespoke management reports
- Tripcatcher for mileage tracking
- Stock & Buy for inventory management
- Unleashed for stock management
- Vend for multi-store retail businesses profitability insights
However, being a VCFO is more than the software you use. It’s in how you work and communicate with your clients too. If you can explain the value you can add to a small business and give them the insights they need to make good business decisions - then you’ll secure your place as an essential part of their team.