Remote Financial Management: More Accurate, Timely and Efficient

Date March 20, 2020
Article Authors

COVID-19 is causing businesses to rethink the way they get things done. Travel has been curtailed. Social distancing is separating us from our customers and associates. Working remotely is the new normal. In particular, efficiency is at a premium. Survival for many small and mid-sized businesses means operating in ways that reduce costs. Efficient financial operation is the core business of Craig Steinhoff and his HBK Client Accounting and Advisory Services (CAAS) group. They have become the virtual financial department for a host of small and mid-sized businesses, allowing them to outsource their financial management, everything from issuing invoices to adding technology. Companies find their services are not only less costly but they infuse their organizations with higher level and broader financial expertise than they could afford for an in-house department. That kind of support is even more critical in the current COVID-19 crisis environment. “We’re ready to plugin and get to work,” said Steinhoff, a CPA and CITP, and Principal-in-Charge of the HBK CPAs & Consultants Sarasota office. “We’re executing the day-to-day back office tasks, like accounts receivables and payables, while also providing real-time financial management, the level of expertise that can significantly enhance financial performance.” In some cases, CAAS support is temporary, filling in for an employee on leave or a departing employee—and now when the company must downsize to accommodate the reduced income resulting from the coronavirus crisis. At many other companies, CAAS has become a permanent member of their team. “Some of our clients find it hard to imagine that they don’t need to have someone on the premises, someone they are face to face with handling their finances,” Steinhoff offered. “But they find that well-executed remote management can provide more timely, accurate results. I have some clients thousands of miles away who we’re involved with on a daily basis, providing up to the minute financial reporting and direction. “We have competent people with the right skill sets and the technological acumen to work remotely. We can fill in while you find a permanent employee. Or we can take the job on completely so you don’t have to concern yourself with hiring, cross-training or filling in for someone when they’re sick.” New technologies have made working remotely increasingly easier in recent years, Steinhoff pointed out. Banking platforms are designed around remote access. Invoices can be generated, and payments made and received virtually. “As CPAs, our CAAS team members understand the organization from a financial reporting perspective as well as operationally. We assess risk and help our clients become more nimble, which is especially important now if they are to remain relevant in the COVID-19 business environment.” Questions and Cases
    What questions are prospective CAAS clients asking? Steinhoff addressed the most frequently asked:
        • How fast can you get up to speed with my business? We start an interview, then set up the appropriate cloud-based services. We can get to work immediately.
        • How much can you do working remotely? Tools like cloud-based bill pay services and financial accounting software allow us to work entirely remotely. Many services are mobile providing phone or tablet access, allowing for real-time access to current data wherever you—or we—are.
        • What government programs are available to me? We remain current on the new and changing federal, state and local programs for individuals and small businesses, such as tax credits, payroll-related provisions, tax payment deferrals, SBA and state-sponsored loans, and other relief programs. We’re digesting it all and helping our clients make the best decisions about their options and opportunities.
Steinhoff offered some sample cases from the CAAS files:
        • A construction company’s office manager had been overseeing all the company’s financial dealings for years, from paying bills to payroll to budgets and banking. She was working 45-hour weeks before giving a two-week notice that she was leaving the company. We analyzed the work and found better, more efficient ways to get it done, reducing what took her 45 hours down to 12 to 16 hours weekly. Not only was our remote service more efficient, but the work was more accurate and the reporting more timely.
        • A non-profit organization was concerned that COVID-19 would result in substantially reduced contributions. But with the proactive guidance and foresight of the HBK CAAS team, they had been good stewards of the money they had raised through the implementation of financial reporting software that had helped to substantially increase contributions in recent years. We did a cash flow analysis and were able to report to the board that, after implementing a cost-cutting and reduction plan that the organization had a six-month cash reserve before they would need to dip into their investment portfolio.
        • A franchisor was having problems getting franchises to pay their monthly fees in a timely manner. The invoices were being issued but there was little effort on collections. We revised the invoicing process and instituted the use of ACH debits to allow the franchisor to pull the money from their franchisees’ accounts. They went from taking months to collect their fees to receiving payment as the invoices were issued.
        • We learned that many of the vendors one of our clients accepted credit card payments. They had been cutting checks. Paying with credit cards gave the company a 30-day float on their cash and allowed them to earn purchasing card rebates, which added more than $30,000 a year to their bottom line.

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