Whether you have been in business for some time or are just starting out, I am sure you have wondered about all the various financial roles out there and what would be right for your business.
Finance Professionals are wide ranging and finding the right type of professional for the task at hand is important in getting the best result, so read on for our brief guide into the different roles and services provided:
At some point you may want a book-keeper in your business, even as a sole trader this support can be valuable. A bookkeeper is a data-entry professional, whose primary role is to make and maintain your accurate business records. The data collated by a bookkeeper is often used by business owners and accountants to make financial decisions and can be provided to your accountant.
Unless you love doing your own tax returns, you will want an accountant. The bigger your business gets the more important it is to have someone who really knows what they are doing on the job.
They maintain your financial accountability; and oversee areas like payroll, taxes, and spending. They can also provide reports to management and investigate any financial discrepancies that may arise.
If you become a LTD company, then you will want a Management accountant. They work for public companies, private businesses, and government agencies and look after the day-to-day accounts. Their duties include recording and crunching numbers, helping to choose and manage company investments, risk management, budgeting, planning, strategising, and decision making. They are normally a key part of a business.
Larger companies will have a Financial Manager or Director. They work with the management team to plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate financial information and advise on company financial policy.
A Tax Specialist focuses solely on tax planning and compliance. They can advise clients on ways to reduce their tax bills, or prepare and submit tax return forms.
An auditor is trained to carry out an audit which is “independent examination of financial information of any business or organisation.” Larger companies are required to have their accounts audited, however this is not usually required by small companies.
Companies of any size can be investigated by HMRC, for example if a discrepancy arises in your tax affairs. This is not a statutory accounts audit, and your tax specialist or financial accountant can usually help you through this process.
An Insolvency Specialist is someone who is licensed and authorised to act in relation to an insolvent individual, partnership or company. Most are accountants or insolvency specialists working in firms of accountants. You will only need one of these if your business cannot pay it’s debts ie you have more liabilities than assets on the balance sheet, or if you’re looking to wind up a company. Sometimes it can be useful to consult an insolvency practitioner if your business is encountering difficulties and you want to look at options for recovery.
Mergers & Acquisitions Specialists
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is a term that refers to the management, financing, and strategy involved with buying, selling, and merging companies. The M&A Specialist will assist with the deal negotiations and help manage the entire process from a tax perspective.
Banking & Financing
As we all know, Banking and Finance is the world of money, shares, credit and investments. Financial markets are very important, and understanding the pricing of assets and derivative securities is vital. Financial intermediaries such as banks are key players in these financial markets.
An investment specialist represents the fund manager when speaking to clients, they can explain what is happening in the fund: ie where the manager is investing and why.
So how do you know what support you need for your business?
For most sole traders, you would just need a low maintenance bookkeeper and accountant, someone to keep everything up to date and prepare at end-of-year off your records and file statutory commitments.
If you want a more supportive professional, who is available to discuss, train and explain what you need and occasionally check in with you regarding your numbers then look to work with an accountant who actively supports you through the year.
If your business is expanding and growing, you may need extra support from someone who is more involved in your business. Depending on your comfort level with the finances this might be through your financial accountant, or by using additional management accounting services. Look for someone who can actively review accounts throughout the year, share information or updates as they arise that may affect you, and share ways to improve your books. The aim is to help you plan the coming years strategy as things change in your business.
Pyramis Solutions - Your Outsourced Financial Department
At Pyramis Solutions, our services are designed to feel like your internal team, offering the support and practicality of having a book-keeper, management accountant and Financial Director/Controller in your business. Our aim is to help get the full financial management coverage in one handy service, from getting the numbers in order, having reporting that helps you make decisions with them and then utilising this to plan ahead, future proofing your business as well as you can.
We also bend and flex as the business changes, utilising the right people at the right time to work closely with you, that way you have the whole team available and no further recruitment or training needed when you grow.
To top it off, with our Pyramis Accountancy service, we also can help with the compliance and statutory work, again taking the proactive approach to your accounting, perfect for those that want a closer look throughout the year.
Your business is growing, you have realised you can no longer do it all, so you get others in to help you out as your team expands.
You can let go of some responsibilities, but how do you stay on top of all the moving parts?
How do you know how things really are in your business and how do you measure the success when you are not in the day-to-day?
As our team is developing, so are the workflows in each department, with independent functions and projects happening all the time.
This can be a hard shift for a business owner to navigate as they take on balancing delegation with leadership and supporting without micromanaging. Then there is the setting up of workflows and reporting so the leader can truly step back from the ‘doing’.
My chief love is working with my clients and working with my team. I have happily started letting go of some areas of the business, which are taken care of by much more capable hands than mine. But with this step back, I could lose sight of the day-to-day.
So, how does a business owner manage all of that?
Something we are working on at the moment is how we track activity, progress and results at Pyramis Solutions.
With team members taking on more autonomy and control for their areas of responsibility and to avoid ending up in endless ‘update’ meetings or writing/reading dry reports, I wanted a lightweight system that can track key elements of the business in our very own ‘Dashboard’.
It’s no secret that I love my tech! So I looked at the key software tools available. Many are integrating or utilising a form of ‘dashboard’ where they summarise all the information held into small digestible and often graphical representations. Tools for Accounting, Sales, Marketing & even Productivity are great, but I wanted to see all my business in one place.
Thankfully, I feel quite at home in an Excel Spreadsheet. As long as I can find the data, I can design the processing and presentation I need, so I set out on creating our very own ‘dashboard’.
I started out with what I know, the financials! I will never tire of saying the financials are the sum of the other parts. Whatever strategy, ambition and targets you set in any part of the business, the results show up in the financials. So this was an easy one to define as we already have key indicators to measure against for this.
Working our way through Sales, Marketing, Customer Success and Operations, we are building a full picture of the moving parts for the organisation to see a very summarised snapshot to measure how performance is going.
One thing that has been extremely interesting is defining what is important. No-one want’s data for data’s sake. We don’t want to be revisiting, tweaking and reprocessing all the time, as a small business, we simply don’t have the resources for that.
Determining what is important is a great tool to cut out the unnecessary and really focus on the stuff that matters, which again, in a resource restricted business, was a very useful exercise.
It even helped me to evaluate some of our internal processes. We determined that a key area to understanding the mechanics of the business was to have insight through job costing. What I realised is that to get that data without duplication, reprocessing and in a timely manner, we needed to upgrade some processes.
So the act of looking at and defining our results is smoothing out and improving our underlying processes, which can only be a good thing as we grow. I’m not looking to grow a business on shaky foundations.
The dashboard can offer several other benefits too.
First, now the team knows what we are looking to achieve and what the expectations are, they can take on more responsibility for the results and can regularly check in without my interference or evaluation.
If they are updating the results, I don’t have to, so I can take a clean top level view at the overall picture and decide for the future of the business.
It also acts as an early warning system, if standards are slipping, external factors are affecting results, things are not going in the right direction, we can do something about it early.
And if it is going better than expected, what a way to showcase and thank everyone quickly for their amazing results.
Ultimately, it allows me, the business owner, to step back without losing visibility.
If you are reading this and know of a piece of kit that is perfect for the job and suits the small business price range, I would love to hear about it!
And if, like us, you think it is time to look at your reporting lines and results across the business, why not consider one of our Working Session to kick start its development?
As we move into March, we think it’s a good time to start thinking about your Tax Return.
Yes, we know what you are thinking - didn’t we just do that?
You got your tax return in and probably thought - that’s it for another year, so you can forget about it.
Maybe it can be less stressful, especially if you left it to the last minute again.
We all love a deadline, most of us work better when we have one but when we leave the work until the very last minute it can be stressful.
So here are some tips for managing your accounts over the year, making things more manageable for you and your accountant!