If you’re looking to expand or grow your business, it may help to think about how you can shape your finance team. A well-structured team can assist in delivering results at a competitive rate, while paving the way for new growth opportunities.
Not a One-size-fits-all Approach
Successful medium to large enterprises invest in an integrated business finance team to work like a well-oiled machine. There’s often a chief financial officer (CFO), accountant, actuary, risk, compliance and audit officer, and payroll and accounts payable/receivable officers.
The structure of these teams – and the need for outsourcing – depends largely on the company’s size and strategy. For example, a large listed company with ASX-reporting requirements will generally engage external advisors to prepare and sign-off on financial reports. This is due to the level of obligation and risk, as well as the ever-changing rules governing listed companies.
Strategic Management is the Key
A non-listed company may, however, use a more integrated internal finance team to collect financial data for its annual reports. In these teams, recent trends show that the scope of a CFO’s role and of the treasury team is becoming increasingly strategic.
In fact, a 2015 Deloitte report on global corporate treasuries revealed that, “The modern treasury group is strategic, collaborates with the businesses it serves, and is using automation, offshoring, and treasury centers of excellence to consolidate and standardise tactical areas.”
Regardless of size, all businesses can also benefit from having appropriate and strategic finance structures in place.
For the self-employed, an online bookkeeping tool like QuickBooks Online may be all you need to keep track of expenses, receipts, bills and receivables. It can create invoices, manage BAS and GST, all in a few clicks, and is accessible anywhere and anytime.
Best of all, you don’t have the costs of retaining a bookkeeper and can retrieve financial data you require while on the go.
Small Business Options
For a business with a few employees, a bookkeeper and accountant might be the only tools needed to keep abreast of accounts payable and receivable, as well as tax, payroll, insurance and superannuation requirements.
Given the insurance, superannuation, tax and other obligations associated with hiring additional employees, small business owners often find it useful and cost-effective to engage external bookkeepers and accountants. However, online bookkeeping tools like QuickBooks Online can remove the need for an external service provider – saving time and money.
A bookkeeper maintains the business’s day-to-day finance ledgers by keeping records of all payables, receivables and other financial transactions. This information is generally reconciled fortnightly or monthly and is used to assist an accountant in preparing an income statement.
The accountant also assists the business with its tax obligations and provides strategic financial advice to help improve business operations.
For larger enterprises, a strategic finance team may be required. In a 2009 global report, financial advisory company McKinsey defined four possible roles for a business finance team in an organisation. Of those roles, the largest group of the survey respondents fell into the ‘strategic’ function. This is where finance is an integral part of the management team – used to identify opportunities and provide information to management in order to make superior operating and strategic decisions.
The roles in the strategic model include: value managers (business improvement, research and analysis), business partners, process managers (reporting, tax, audit, treasury) and bean counters (accountants, payroll, bookkeeping).
The report also noted that in spite of the strong emphasis on cost management, over two-thirds of the respondents said that their companies do not currently outsource or send any finance activities offshore. This could be partly attributed to the availability of existing technologies.
Thanks to software such as QuickBooks Online, data and analysis can be recorded, segregated and shared departmentally within an organisation, leading to a transparent reporting approach – without having to outsource these services to external providers.
So when it comes to building your business finance team, be sure to integrate your company’s strategy with expert knowledge and the latest in accounting technology.
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