Q&A: Managed Accounting Services
For many businesses – particularly startups and entrepreneurial organizations – the need for skilled accounting services is clear, but that need is often stacked against the desire to run a lean operation. But in order to successfully drive growth or lead the business through a transitional period, it requires a sophisticated financial operation that doesn’t break the bank.
To solve this unique problem, MFA recently launched its Managed Accounting Services (MAS), providing dedicated support to businesses in need of robust reporting, streamlined financial operations and insights, and CFO-level services at a predictable, monthly fee.
We recently spoke with Michael Sullivan, Lead Partner for MFA’s Managed Accounting Services Team, to learn more about the Firm’s new service offering and which businesses are ideally suited to realize its benefits.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about MFA’s Managed Accounting Services.
Mike Sullivan (MS): Managed Accounting Services are essentially outsourced accounting services that cover a wide spectrum of needs – from regular financial reporting and GAAP reconciliation to CFO-level strategic planning and forecasting. While MFA has been providing these ad hoc services to customers for many years, historically they’ve been siloed within various groups across the Firm. We wanted to respond to the increasing need for these solutions by streamlining the offering and committing a dedicated team to enhance the customer experience.
Q: What are some of the key benefits to Managed Accounting Services? What problems are you helping today’s businesses solve?
MS: The most obvious benefit – particularly for younger, leaner businesses – is the ability to focus more of their time and attention on their strategic vision versus day-to-day accounting. A lot of businesses today don’t want the overhead associated with a full-time CFO or accounting staff. With managed accounting, there’s inherent flexibility for your internal resources and, more often than not, a lower cost compared to hiring and training an internal team.
Q: It sounds like that flexibility could be really critical, especially in today’s economy when it feels like circumstances are changing so rapidly.
MS: Absolutely. With MFA’s Managed Accounting Services, you can grow and contract support with the ebbs and flows of your business, so as your needs change, we can adjust our services accordingly. And that is naturally going to facilitate cost-savings because you don’t have to hire, fire, and re-hire; you have a permanent team of resources at your disposal as special projects come up and your business needs evolve over time.
Q: Who’s the ideal candidate for these services?
MS: A lot of businesses at varying sizes and stages of the business lifecycle can benefit from Managed Accounting Services. As I mentioned, it’s often a good fit for younger startups and more entrepreneurial organizations that tend to run lean on the finance front but still need access to sophisticated reporting and timely financials. For PE- or venture-backed companies looking to raise more capital, there’s a lot of value in adding efficiencies and sophistication to the financial reporting process to support bringing in future investors as well as satisfying current investors.
Q: Are there advantages for more established businesses as well?
MS: There are. Even successful businesses don’t always have the bandwidth or expertise to lend to some of these accounting tasks. Sometimes a customer needs temporary help to get through a special project or an unexpected growth period. Maybe they want us to augment their existing staff to help prepare financials for tax planning purposes. We also work with a lot of businesses in transition – often smaller, closely-held and family-owned companies – that need to enhance their existing reporting for a potential exit or other liquidity event.
Q: What else can you tell us about MFA’s Managed Accounting Services?
MS: I’ll just add that there’s no one-size-fits-all with Managed Accounting Services. We customize reporting packages to meet the unique needs of the customer. Oftentimes they have specific KPIs or other metrics to measure against, so we strive for continuous improvement within the reporting to meet those unique needs as they grow and evolve. We really take the time to look beyond the numbers and offer valuable analysis, insight and process recommendations to help customers streamline their accounting function and facilitate whatever their future business goals might be.
There’s also the benefit of having access to the expertise of our entire Firm. Regardless of business stage or size, the Managed Accounting Services Team really becomes the de facto conduit to all other resources within MFA. When our team identifies specific needs based on the accounting picture, we can pull in other teams and resources and get them up-to-speed and in a position to lend additional support quickly – whether it’s due diligence or M&A guidance, technical accounting needs or other general business advisory.
Whether you’re a business in need of core accounting assistance, expertise to bridge a financial management gap or high-level strategic guidance to lay the foundation for accelerated growth and sustainable success, MFA can help. Please reach out to discover if our Managed Accounting Services are the right fit for your organization.
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