I sat down with Christina Griggs, CEO/Founder of Gemsbok Consulting, recently to gain clarity about the various functions of an accounting team. The accounting and tax spaces, with their emphasis on accuracy and extremely granular data, often leave people feeling intimidated and very removed from the processes that lead to a clear understanding of the bottom line. However, the data that solid accounting brings to the decision-making processes can make all the difference to the success of a company. Christina confirms that usually within 6-9 months, a company will start seeing the tangible financial rewards of a full-service accounting team’s service.
Business owners and CEOs often think about accounting as simple bookkeeping but there are several roles, each with their specialty, built into a solid accounting approach. Think about accounting as a team sport.
Here are the typical roles one might interact with on the Gemsbok accounting team.
Most bookkeepers don’t have formal accounting training but have great attention to detail and follow set structures quite well.
What You can Expect
- Tracks expenses and income in a well-established structure
- Invoices once the process has been fleshed out
- Keeps files organized
- Completes monthly reconciliations.
What Not to Expect
- Human Resources functions such as payroll, payroll taxes and health insurance and benefits
- Establishing best practices for accounting structures and workflows
- Understanding the differences between liabilities and assets and what goes on the Balance Sheet versus the income statement
- Verifying the accuracy of financial statements
Controllers generally have deeper accounting training and knowledge.
What To expect
- Oversees work of bookkeeper, adding layers of knowledge to more in-depth processes like accrual v. cash basis or liabilities v. assets
- Ensures accuracy of balance sheets
- Proofs all the numbers at the end of year before sending files to CPA
- Enters adjusting journal entries
What Not to Expect
- Forecasting and analysis of numbers
- Knowledge of how to respond to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Knowledge of how to structure the accounting system to produce the data needed for KPIs
CFOs or Chief Financial Officers are experienced in tracking and analyzing financial data and then proposing strategy around that data.
What to Expect
- Thinks about the structure of the data and how to organize that data in a way to bring clarity for making short and long-term decisions
- Evaluates HR needs and human capital impact
- Helps brainstorm solutions to impending financial & staffing challenges
- Project-specific analysis
- Attends to the future of the business – financial and staffing models, what-if scenarios
What Not to Expect
- Bookkeeping – they can technically do it, but not the best use of their time
Gemsbok works hand-in-hand with CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) who are experts in accounting, auditing, mergers, acquisitions, etc., and specifically the tax implications around these activities. Christina points out that while CPAs look backward, tying out the historical data, CFOs look forward as they use their expertise to build the framework that leads to a resilient and successful company. It truly is a team approach!
But I can’t afford an accounting team.
We contend that you can’t afford not to have an accounting team, which provides the following often overlooked value-adds.
Peace of mind: CEOs value the high-level, unbiased support that a CFO brings to the table.
Measurability: What gets measured gets achieved. Implementing and then tweaking strategies based on real-time data is a win every time.
Resilience: This real-time data means real-time solutions to withstand the challenges ahead.
Diversity: Each member of an accounting team looks at the business through a different lens. This diversity of experience and approach proves invaluable to the big picture of a company.
Fractional: this means you only have to pay for the amount of services that you actually need. This makes it very accessible for every size business owner.
This is a simplistic explanation of the various functions of an accounting team but hopefully, it peels back some of the more intimidating aspects and provides business owners with a way forward in developing an accounting team approach for their company. Gemsbok would love to come alongside you and be your total accounting and human resources solution as you grow your company. Reach out to schedule a consultation today!