Virtual Finance Office
We provide a bespoke Virtual Finance Office service to small businesses at often, less than the cost of a full-time junior staff member.
Don’t let the word ‘virtual’ put you off. It may be techy sounding but our service is very much based around the human element – and giving you access to our team of experienced finance professionals who have managed the entire finance function for other businesses like yours.
We can provide the full finance function from bookkeeper to FD and anything in between or complement your existing team with the elements that are missing.
What does a typical finance function look like?
The traditional ‘finance function’ would have had the following elements / departments:
- Accounts receivable – responsible for invoicing and collecting cash from customers
- Accounts payable – responsible for paying suppliers and employees
- Financial reporting and control – responsible for implementing the systems into which the data is entered and extracted in the form of management accounts for analysis
- Working capital management – responsible for managing cash flow and setting up systems for stock management
- Forecasting and budgeting – responsible for setting up budgeting and variance analysis between actual and budget
- Strategic and financial planning – responsible for giving meaning to the figures, tracking KPi’s and managing the business’ financial risk
- Tax and compliance – responsible for compliance with tax and regulatory bodies like HMRC and Companies House.
Large companies would have a whole team of people to make up the business’ finance function covering each of the above areas – from accounts payable and receivable staff to financial controllers and CFO’s.
Smaller businesses would typically only have a limited number of people to handle all of the above functions if any at all – sometimes it’s just the owner together with non-finance professionals that try and get by.
Although small businesses don’t need a whole team of people to cover all of the above, they do need cover in all of the above finance function areas to some extent.
Problem is, it’s not normally within reach of most small businesses to get the optimum level of cover in each of the finance function areas that they need.
So what benefits can a Virtual Finance Office bring to you?
Fundamentally, our VFO offering can give you cover in all of the above fundamental finance function areas in line with your business needs and at an investment your business can afford.
Furthermore, another main benefit is the comfort of being able to hand responsibility of managing your finance function to someone else to let you concentrate on what you’re good at and growing your business.
Technology these days has made it possible for firms like ours to provide a full finance function offering to our entrepreneurial small business clients.
It’s essentially a combination of a full finance team, business coach and strategic financial expert partnering up with you to help you achieve your business objectives.
Other benefits include:
- Taking away the hassle of managing your own bookkeeping and ensuring that it’s done regularly and accurately so you don’t miss out on tax reliefs and all eligible VAT paid.
- Synchronisation of your financial data with your business objectives to ensure you receive useful management information to help you make better decisions
- Provision of real time management information with analysis in a timely manner
- Strategic financial input on growing your business
- Access to the latest technology to streamline your operations and save time and money
- Having finance staff report to someone who can hold them to account
- Assistance with helping you obtain finance to grow your business
- Helping you to build a profitable and sustainable business by charting out a plan and measuring KPi’s
- Managing financial risk in your business that may otherwise catch you unaware
- Your options in details – how you benefit:
For a fixed monthly investment, you can benefit from the following depending on the package and options chosen
Review and streamline existing finance function systems & processes
We will perform a health check on your existing finance function systems and processes to
see where any inefficiencies exist and provide recommendations on improvements to save time and money.
Document capture system and process
We will review how documents flow through your current finance processes in order to streamline as much as possible so you only keep what you need and use technology to scan documents to save time on manual data entry – and reduce human errors that can result in financial loss. You will also be surprised how much space you can get back in your office when you go paperless!
Accounts receivable review and management
Many businesses suffer from cash flow due to poor invoicing and cash collection procedures. We will perform a review of your credit control procedures and help you implement strategies to get cash into your account faster. This might be through automating credit control, implementing direct debit or helping you to get payment up front using payment processing services like Stripe or Paypal.
Overview and support to your internal finance staff
It’s hard to manage staff – let alone staff that are engaged in an activity that is not your forte. We will provide support to your in-house finance team for any queries they may have so they don’t get frustrated and can be as productive and efficient as possible.
Accounts payable review and management
We can manage your payments function or review your existing processes and set up and provide advice on generating efficiencies, improving controls and saving you time and money. If you pay employee expenses then we can establish and implement systems for you to keep track of expense claims, ensure the relevant authorisations are in place and create a seamless process for claims.
Bank feeds system set up and timely reconciliations
We can undertake the bank and credit card reconciliations for you or if you are doing this in house then we can provide processes to undertake it as efficiently as possible across all bank and card accounts. Reconciliations are essential to ensuring that the financial data in your accounting system is accurate so that you know at any point in time who owes you what and what you owe to others.
Full management reporting
Creating real time management reports as to how the business is doing is crucial in helping you to make better business decisions. We will ensure that your finance function is set up to give you the reporting you need as regular as you need it so you always have a pulse on how your business is performing. More importantly we will accompany the reports with our commentary and analysis to help you make sense of the numbers.
Dedicated financial director contact
You will have direct access to an experienced financial director that you can contact at any time who will work closely with you. It will just be like having an FD on your team. This means you have one point of contact for all your queries. They will be supported by other members of our team so you will always be able to get through to someone and receive a prompt reply.
Unlimited email and telephone support
You can call upon your dedicated client manager contact at any time by email or phone without extra charge or worrying about the cost. If there is anything that is required outside the agreed the scope of services with you, we would always notify you in advance and provide a quote prior to proceeding. You will never receive a surprise bill from us.
Cost control: Expense monitoring, analysis and advice
It’s very easy to lose control of costs when you are trying to grow a business. As you hire more people you will have employees that will be making expense claims. It is important to keep a handle on costs and have processes in place that keep costs in check whilst alerting you to any anomalies to manage your risk.
Financial projections and custom reports to aid decision making
You want to add a new hire to your team or invest in a product / service to help you take your business to the next level. However, can you afford to do so? What impact will it have on your financials? Are you taking into account all associated costs? We can help build projections to model the impact of incurring costs or investment and taking into account the time before the investment starts to bear fruit. Giving you different scenarios based on ‘what-if’ questions will greatly aid your decision making and manage risk. We will custom reports from your financials in other areas to help you make better business decisions.
Working capital / Cash flow management and monitoring
Cash is vital to the survival of any business. Monitoring cash flow is crucial in ensuring that you are to sustain the business during periods where trade may be down or where you need to invest to grow. Too often, future liabilities such as PAYE, VAT and corporation tax are forgotten when trying to manage cash just be looking at the bank balance. We will help you build, monitor and update your cash flow forecast so it becomes a real live forecast that gives you clear visibility over future cash balance and requirements.
Review of industry specific apps and implementation
There are over 1000 apps in the cloud accounting eco-system! And growing. We will research and make recommendations on apps that can integrate into your cloud accounting software that can generate efficiencies for you and therefore save time and money. Some of these may be industry specific to your sector and others more generally around business processes like project costing for example.
Financial risk management
Managing risk is critical to ensuring business survival. We will identify the key financial risks in your business and assist you in mitigating that risk so you don’t lose money. For example, if you are onboarding a new customer and concerned about their ability to pay, we can run a credit check for you on your behalf.
Dashboard to track relevant financial and non-financial KPi’s
Looking at data in management reports is helpful. However combining that with key performance indicators that are specific to helping you achieve the growth targets of your company is even more useful. Our motto is ‘anything that is watched and measured, improves’. Having a dashboard with your financial and non-financial KPi’s in one place and tracking them will help you and your team achieve your goals.
Strategic planning to set goals and monitoring
We will have a strategic planning session with you to understand your short, medium and long term goals and work with you to implement a series of targets to help you work towards achieving them.
Monthly accountability programme and support
One of the keys to success is taking action. You need to do the things necessary to move you towards your goals. Unfortunately this is harder than it sounds. The day to day running of a business often gets in the way. Having an external personal holding you accountable helps you to get the right things done. We will schedule a monthly video call or meeting with you to help you work through your strategic action plan and provide help and support. This external support will make it much more likely you achieve your personal and business goals.
Raising finance and investor reporting
Depending on your growth plans you may need to raise finance or restructure existing finance. We will make representations on your behalf to our wide network of financiers to help you get the finance you need to sustain and grow your business. Any financier will need management reports to ensure their investment is safe- guarded. We will work with you to ensure that these are provided as required to maintain your credibility and credit line.
Exit strategy development and formulation
If you are looking to scale your business and target an exit strategy, you need a plan to ensure you get maximum value for the time, money and energy you have put into building your business. We will work with you to develop an exit strategy that maximises value. This could include looking at options such as MBO’s and looking at tying in key employees via tax efficient employee share option schemes.
Non-exec FD role assumed for third party credibility
If you are accountable to other shareholders or investors or have taken on risk finance, you may be required to have a non-exec FD on board. We can perform that role for no extra cost within this package to give you the credibility required and comfort to your financiers employee share option schemes.