For many businesses, outsourcing the accounting and payroll functions helps them simplify company operations whilst being able to take advantage of financial and legal specialists, optimise costs and increase efficiency. The COVID-19 crisis has uncovered a complex and challenging business environment, and more are considering this option as they look at saving costs and focusing on their core business activities. Learn more about why a business should outsource accounting services here. For those with existing outsources providers, now is a time of reflection and wondering if they’re really getting the best service from their accountancy and payroll firm.
○ Being Unaware of What Exists
○ The Time and Cost of Transitioning is Too High
○ It’s Hard to Find a Provider You Can Trust
○ It’s Difficult to Check the Quality of a New Provider
○ “It’s Not the Right Time”
The quality of a company’s accounts can make a big impact, for example, if you have investors, they’ll expect complete and accurate financial on paper. Your outsourced accounting provider should help you optimise costs by increasing efficiencies and creating savings on your internal resources. If you think you’re not receiving the quality you expect, there may come a time when you’re faced with the difficult decision of having to change from one outsourced accountancy to another.
In this article, we break down some of the reasons why companies struggle with making the decision to change accounting and payroll providers, and how it doesn’t need to be as difficult as it seems.
Being Unaware of What Exists
If you’ve been working with the same provider for a number of years, it’s possible to simply not know of the excellent service you could be receiving from another accountancy. Satisfaction is highly subjective for people and standards can depend on what someone is used to. It can be scary to move from one provider to another as there is a risk of not receiving the service promised.
To help distinguish if an outsourced provider is good quality and right for your business, ask trusted colleagues or others in the same field about the experience they’ve had with outsourcing. If it is a sensitive topic to raise, take the time to research accountancy and payroll companies and read reviews from clients to understand the expectations you should have towards them.
Remember, accounting and other outsourced services differ amongst providers. There are some that simply provide clients with accounting software, others who take care of all financial records and some who provide a completely tailored offering. By not exploring what the alternatives on the market are, you could miss the opportunity to partner with a provider that can meet your bespoke needs. This can have a major impact on businesses as accounting is an important function that directly impacts the running of a successful company.
The Time and Cost of Transitioning is Too High
There are many reasons companies outsource functions like accounting. There may be a stakeholder/ investor requirement to have an independent party, they could be looking to save costs or they may just want the best expertise. However, if your outsourced provider isn’t actually adding value, it’s time to look elsewhere. It may feel like a huge effort to move the accounting function from one outsourced company to another, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Proven accounting services providers should have well-established processes and technology tools that help make the transition smooth and less painful. If you have specific concerns, it’s a good idea to find a provider with the flexibility to address any pain points, for instance, by offering a dedicated on-boarding service. Established outsourced service providers should have vast expertise within their people and systems so that they can always meet reasonable client requirements.
When you get to the stage of deciding on your new provider and you’ve signed up with them, there should be a fluid transition. Rearranging your finance team and processes can be simplified with clear and early communication. Don’t stick with an accountant or payroll provider who isn’t able to cover all administrative and regulatory aspects whilst meeting your standards.
It’s Hard to Find a Provider You Can Trust
Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship and it goes without saying, your accounting provider should be your trusted advisor in all relevant financial matters. Feeling loyal towards your accountant can be a double edged sword. If standards slip, it may not be as noticeable if your accountant is particularly charismatic. Your business deserves the best advice and service, so make time for regular reviews of providers and try to be objective when undertaking them. Another option is to find a partner that has the solid track record, as they value their reputation and will go above and beyond to maintain it.
Trust and reliability are important factors when considering your outsourced provider. If you are looking for a new accountant, it’s not necessarily about making friends with them, even though the quality of relationship is an important factor, but finding someone that shares the same values and maintaining trust is key. If you’re not sure how to assess a provider on their values, research the business, its origins, how long it’s been around and how they present themselves. Conduct interviews and ask for references to help you understand who they are and what their strengths are. Asking for references is crucial, as many professional service providers may not publicly share their references to protect the confidentiality of their clients. You should be able to pick up the phone and hear a reassuring voice when you need it. That is what great accounting and financial management is all about.
It’s Difficult to Check the Quality of a New Provider
If you’re considering changing from one accountant to another, the single most important and difficult question is whether the quality will be better than the existing one. The best way to reflect upon this is to make a list of what you’re looking for in an accounting and payroll company and review your shortlist based on this. For example, if your company is going through major growth and expanding internationally, find out what experience the accountancy has with internationalisation. If one of your concerns is around the provider meeting deadlines, try to understand whether the business has enough resources to cover the busy periods such as the fiscal year-end. Think about the importance of partnering with a company that will not only meet your expectations but that will go beyond them by actively helping you ask the right questions and make the best decisions.
By using a set of criteria and looking for evidence to support in the decision making process, it will be much easier to weigh the options. The criteria used should be based on your top priorities. Is the main priority to find the cheapest provider? If so, understand there could be a compromise in the level of service given, for example, in quality, technology or communication. If the priority is to have the highest level of quality then it’s going to come at a higher price point. Even if a 5-star “cheap” accounting service is promised, it’s not likely that it actually exists.
A driver of transforming your finance function may come from a transition in the business, for example, scaling up or down which can create challenges for operations teams. Competent outsourced accounting service providers have the ability to upscale or downscale in line with your business. Their levels and variety of expertise will be hard to match with in-house resources which allows for increased flexibility and knowledge, building resilience effectively.
“It’s Not the Right Time”
In today’s competitive and constantly changing business environment, it may feel like there’s never a good time to focus on finding a new accounting and payroll provider. Working with the right external providers can streamline your teams and outsourcing functions such as accounting, payroll, tax management and legal. Even in the current COVID-19 environment that is volatile and uncertain, it’s possible to use outsourcing to improve business processes and secure future revenue. In fact, accounting advisory services related to business continuity have been in demand, and so have opportunities to help clients get the most from government financial aid programmes.
Outsourcing allows you to focus all of your company’s resources on its core commercial activities. This is only true if you work with a provider who is capable of high quality, personalised support. Changing to another or at least considering it could be the best option if you are having doubts that the current provider is able to deliver what your business needs. You should be able to rely on your accountancy firm to help you optimise financial management and take advantage of new opportunities in your sector.
To gain success, businesses need their management and finance teams to have access to timely and accurate financial information so that they can make informed decisions. Businesses who recognise the importance of this are optimising their finance and accounting function to address some of the challenges that exist, so that it can be future-proofed.
At Leinonen, we understand why it may seem difficult to make changes to your accounting and payroll operations. We’ll listen to your needs and be completely transparent with our process so that the transition period is smooth. Leinonen is a lighthouse that helps clients to navigate in complex and challenging business environments, and at the same time a safe haven for our clients in all of the 12 countries we operate in.
Let us introduce to you how Leinonen can add value to your existing operations.