Like the change of seasons, the transition from one quarter to the next presents opportunities for renewal, to assess the recent past and position oneself well for a promising and bright future. And, while we treat each client and client engagement as the unique relationship and one-of-a-kind partnership that it is, related accounting, assurance, tax and advisory services are OFWF’s bread and butter. So, you can rest assured that we compile, manage, report, store, retrieve and otherwise handle and leverage your vital data and communication securely, soundly and with the strictest confidence.
Transcending the “cookie-cutter”
Due to our array of expertise and capabilities, we may first sit down with you and any other members of your advisory circle to determine the services that are in your best interests based on factors such as your business type, industry, risk exposure and other regulatory and operating requirements. The ways that you engage with us and the items that we may ask for can vary considerably depending on the types of services that you want and need, and your “starting point” or current state of operations and controls. For instance, quarterly compilations, reviews or audits may be in order.
As the name suggests, compilations still involve soliciting for vital financial information and presenting associated financial statements. However, the scope of this engagement is comparatively minimal, as we do not conduct further follow-ups and procedures to verify such information. Reviews are a middle-ground form of assurance; we solicit further inquiries and perform further analyses beyond what clients initially provide to us. In doing so, we provide limited assurance that the information represented by our clients is complete. Audits provide the highest level of assurance, and require more hours and effort beyond reviews. Partly, there are many audit procedures to work through to support the balances as reported in client account and disclosure information. During this process, you as a partner would find our team examining source documents, confirming with third parties, conducting physical inspections, and testing internal controls, among other responsibilities and standards. Of course, we are available on an as-needed basis, as our clients may require such services periodically to satisfy the needs of other partners, such as bankers and lending institutions.
The power behind the numbers
The backbone of ongoing financial reporting can be summed up with statements whose implications are multi-fold. For starters, they do not simply sit on a shelf. But, rather, we can work with you to make the most of the numbers. Appropriate assurance and analyses may unearth “hidden” challenges as well as smart solutions that bolster your bottom-line. Consider how internal leadership, investors and influential analysts can harness information from quarter to quarter to pinpoint trends and identify patterns. Many organizations at the whim of the seasons may find quarter-to-quarter comparisons to be misleading at best, unnecessarily alarming at worst! However, keeping the finger on the pulse of changes from quarter to quarter can also shed invaluable light on all companies’ performance-related fluctuations. For instance, we may see that a business is growing in the “off” or “shoulder” quarters, especially as compared to the like quarter a year earlier or historically during the same time. What this may tell us is that the intrinsic, fundamental strength of the business is growing, and may bode well for future “off quarters” or sales and revenue in the succeeding quarters.
It can’t be overstated: The numbers and metrics are living and breathing – when pulled off of the shelf, not allowed to get dusty. They provide vital business intelligence that can be integrated into day-to-day ops to fight waste and inefficiencies, and to buoy productivity, growth, performance and earnings. In addition to holding up a mirror to your key leadership and team about the state of your operations, analytics and intelligence provides a critical window into respective and current financial vitality to would-be investors, partners, buyers and lenders. This could be the critical factor behind acquiring the monies you need to expand or remain relevant, and withering on the vine.
A deeper dive
A quarterly earnings report provides a trifecta of up-to-date financial statements: the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. Collectively, these three statements offer insights into what is coming in, what is going out and what you have netted for income. The first of these three statements assesses net income as total revenue plus gains, subtracted by total expenses and losses. To give you an idea as to the info we are collecting, managing, and reporting, operating and nonoperating revenue (not receipts!) spans what is earned and reported on the income statement, while expenses are associated with both “primary and secondary” activity. In all, this statement also gives other parties assurance that management is operating efficiently, and shines a light on, perhaps, underperforming sectors or those areas of the business that are underperforming as compared to the competition.
The second of the three statements, or balance sheet, involves gleaning data related to assets, liabilities and any shareholder equity. Another key indicator when evaluating organizations, the balance sheet provides current insights into what the business owns, what it owes, and the overall financial picture (equating assets with liabilities and shareholder equity). In fact, this statement is fundamental to analysts’ financial ratio calculations.
Last but certainly not least, cash is king! The cash flow statement, in turn, is like a recording of all of the cash that is flowing in, courtesy of operations or all operational business activity, and other sources (such as external investments and financing). Each of these different sources is treated separately and reported in different sections of the statement. You can then get a much better understanding of criteria, such as investment gains and losses, and the “big picture” debts and equity figures.
A healthy, hassle-free approach
As noted, the specific questions that we raise or items that we request are unique to you and your organization. However, we understand some documents are largely needed and tracked, regardless of the nature of your business. Furthermore, we appreciate that you have never had more on your plate than today. It is the nature of doing business in an increasingly fast-paced and connected world. We pride ourselves in clear, savvy and efficient communication. We are also responsive and welcome any questions that you may have about our requests or related to the process. The sooner that we have the info we need and have connected with you/your team members, the faster we can put this process behind us -- and use it to ensure your business remains on the up and up, or to aid in making smart decisions related to critical challenges.
A ”checklist” of vital documents might include:
Receipts (sorted by payment method such as credit cards and personal funds)
Capital asset-related documents (for purchases, repairs and sales)
Contractual documents (i.e., leases, loans, insurance)
Investment and bank statements (i.e., deposit slips)
Paid and unpaid invoices for vendors and suppliers
Accounts payable and accounts receivable listings
Customer invoices and sales receipts
Received pre-payments, customer deposits
Government correspondence and tax forms
Payroll (i.e., new employee info, reports)
You don’t have to represent a company to make the most of quarterly planning and reporting. In fact, the IRS requires certain taxpayers make estimated tax payments each quarter (see Form 941). Stay tuned in our next newsletter for opportunities to remain on track and on schedule, and to minimize your tax burden as we review the prior quarter, look to Q4 and, before you know it, ready ourselves for year’s end! Yes, we are accounting. But we are also so much more than that. Experience this for yourself by connecting with a member of our friendly and capable team at OFWF.