List of Accounting Services
Since every business is different, a good accounting service offers different levels of service depending on their business needs. Let’s review a complete list of what services accountants can offer and how they can help you find success and make smart business decisions. Read more below.
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List of Accounting Services
Any business owner knows that accounting plays a vital role in running a prosperous business. An excellent accountant helps track income and expenditures, ensures a business is financially compliant, and provides financial information which can be used in making business decisions.
Although some might see accounting as a painful, yet unavoidable experience, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be! A good accountant/business partnership should make your life easier, provide you access to information to make smarter decisions, and help you build a more successful company. But while looking for an outsourced accounting service, you might ask yourself, “What type of accountant do I need for my business?” Since every business is different, a good accounting service offers different levels of service depending on their business needs. Let’s review a complete list of what services accountants can offer and how they can help you find success and make smart business decisions.
What are accounting services?
On a high level, accountants measure, process and communicate financial information about an organization, and in some cases ensure that an organization is in compliance. The services they perform can range from internal functions like entering transactions, reconciling accounts, and preparing financial statements, to compliance functions like preparing tax returns and performing an audit. In a nutshell, the purpose of accounting is to ensure that the financial operations of an organization are getting properly tracked and that the results are getting accurately communicated to stakeholders.
What services do accounting firms provide?
Now that we’re clear on what accounting services are, let’s answer the question, “What does an accounting firm do?”
First of all, it’s important to understand that not all accounting firms are the same. In fact, accounting firms can come in many varieties. Just like lawyers, doctors or other professionals, accounting firms often focus on one or more areas of specialization. For years, traditional accounting firms provided services in two main categories: audit & attestation services, and tax services.
Audit & Attestation Services
A financial audit is an objective evaluation of a company’s financial statements. Companies are sometimes required to get an audit of their financial statements in order to satisfy financial, legal or regulatory requirements. One of the primary functions of a traditional accounting firm is the performance of audit and other attestation services. While audits serve an important function, they are not required for most small and mid-sized businesses and are therefore not top of mind for most entrepreneurs.
When you mention accounting, people often think of tax services. While accounting and taxes go hand in hand, they are distinctly different services. Tax is a highly specialized area that requires a unique skill set. Firms that provide tax services utilize a team of highly trained experts that stay up to date on the latest tax code in order to prepare business and personal tax returns and provide tax advice. While a good tax accountant is invaluable, you should be careful not to assume they are experts in all areas of accounting. For years, small business owners would go to their tax accountant for all accounting related services. Too often they would end up frustrated with the results. Tax accountants are great at what they do, but they are often not experts on operational accounting and not up to speed on the latest technology applications that drive efficiencies. With the emergence of outsourced accounting services, this has all changed.
Outsourced Accounting Services
Over the past 20 to 25 years, a third category has emerged that has made a massive difference for entrepreneurs. The Outsourced Services category is by far the fastest growing area of specialization for accounting firms. Outsourcing in general is popular because it offers small and mid-sized businesses a great way to get the expertise they need in a fractional, cost-effective model.
Some businesses, particularly larger more established businesses, have their own internal accounting department and hire their own team to do their bookkeeping and accounting. For most small or mid-sized companies, however, it doesn’t make sense to build an internal accounting team. The cost is just too high. Instead, they often partner with an outsourced accounting firm to handle their accounting needs.“What is outsourcing accounting?”, you ask?
Outsourced accounting is a service in which a third-party accounting firm provides a business with contracted support for duties like bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, cash flow planning, financial strategy, and more. Like a lawyer or IT managed service provider, an outsourced accounting service provider can offer a range of services that can be uniquely configured to meet a business’s specific needs.
What are the types of accounting services?
Let’s dive deeper into the Outsourced Accounting Services category by examining the five types of accounting services that are most prevalent.
Bookkeeping is the most basic accounting function, and it involves tracking and maintaining a company’s financial records, including revenue and spending. Bookkeeping is often performed by a bookkeeper with entry-level financial skills. Although bookkeeping is the basic level of accounting service, it also provides the foundation for good information. If your bookkeeping isn’t accurate, then all other financial reports and forecasts are going to be off. Good bookkeeping is a crucial component to a well run business. A list of bookkeeping services includes:
- Processing vendor invoices & credit card transactions
- Reconciling bank & credit card accounts
- Invoicing customers
- Processing customer payments and managing collections
- Recording payroll
Monthly accounting is the next step up from bookkeeping. It involves all the monthly steps a business should follow to properly track the financial health of a business and provide business insights. Although bookkeepers help business owners record transactions and keep things organized, they don’t typically interpret the results. This is where an accountant or controller comes in. Accountants use the records a bookkeeper provides along with their expertise to help prepare reports, build budgets, and provide the analysis required to make good business decisions. A list of monthly accounting services might include:
- Reconciling balance sheet accounts
- Preparing financial statements
- Tracking budget variances
- Preparing a management dashboard to track key performance indicators
- Conducting a financial review meetings
Cash Flow Forecasting
Cash is the lifeblood of any organization. Whether you are trying to navigate a turbulent economic climate or proactively manage your growth, the ability to forecast your cash flow can mean the difference between success and failure. By intentionally reviewing a company’s cash inflows and outflows, an outsourced accounting provider can help business owners avoid surprise bills or shifts in income that can spell disaster. They can also leverage the latest technology to help business owners gain a firm understanding of projected cash flow. In the long run, cash flow forecasting helps business owners make better decisions and react to an ever-changing business environment. Outsourced cash flow forecasting services should include:
- Short or long-term rolling forecasts
- Scenario analysis
An outsourced Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a good option for businesses who are finding success, experiencing rapid growth, resolving a challenge, or are in need of project-based expertise. An outsourced CFO is a financial advisor and strategic consultant that provides services to a company on a part-time or project-based level. When looking for an outsourced CFO, look for someone with the unique understanding of owning, growing, and operating a business.
Outsourced CFOs provide services like:
- Overseeing the finance function of a business
- Providing guidance on strategic financial decisions
- Preparing financial projections
- Participating in management & board meetings
- Providing financing expertise
- Leading M&A initiatives
Getting information to make smart decisions for your business doesn’t happen by accident. It takes experience and thoughtful planning to streamline processes and optimize financials. Operational support is a service to assess current practices and implement new systems and processes to optimize your financial operations. A good outsourced accounting firm can provide a roadmap to help a business reach its goals. Operational support includes functions like:
- Defining processes & procedures
- Evaluating internal controls
- Developing reports & dashboards
- Implementing new systems and technology applications
- Providing ongoing training & support
What accounting services does a business need?
Every business has a unique set of goals, ambitions, and financial circumstances. Since no two businesses are the same, neither should accounting services. The benefit to outsourced accounting is that businesses get to pick and choose which services they utilize now and as their business grows in the future. Here is an important exercise for every entrepreneur and business owner: assess where your business is at now and look ahead to where you want it to be in the future. The answers to these questions will help you determine which accounting services your business needs. Here are a few other elements that contribute to your accounting service decision:
Needs and Goals
- Assess your company’s needs and goals. It’s important to ask questions like:
- What do you need assistance with and how often?
- Are there any major projects or deadlines coming up that your team could use assistance with?
- What financial situation is your business in?
- Are you immediately focused on building a foundation and meeting regulations, trying to make decisions for the future, or both?
Budget always comes first, so find the right outsourced accounting services to fit within your budget. It’s okay to start out small and work on the foundation, then grow from there. With outsourcing, your services can grow as your business grows. Bookkeeping and financial forecasting can be as affordable as $250 a month. When your business is ready, you can move onto higher level services that can provide things like budgeting, cash flow forecasting, financial reporting and dashboards.
- Ensuring the outsourced accounting service is a good fit for your company is an important step. Making sure the workplace culture aligns, values are shared, and communication is clear will be the decided factor if the service will succeed. Important questions to ask are:
- Will the individual(s) who will work on your account fit in with the rest of your team?
- What are your company culture and values?
- Will the outsourced team have an understanding of the industry you serve?
Accounting Services Price List
For more commoditized services like bookkeeping, it’s very easy for most providers to offer a clear starting price point for their services, which are typically based on hourly costs for a bookkeeper’s time. That hourly cost to a business can range widely with fees of $40/hr to over $100/hr, depending on geography and other factors. A good provider should offer a customized price based on the complexity of your books and the number of transactions your business processes in a month, so be wary of anybody who offers a flat, one size fits all, fee for this kind of service. Basic bookkeeping services, could start as low as $250 a month and scale to several thousands of dollars.
However, many businesses need more than just the basics. For a business to continue to grow and expand, they need a higher level of support that comes from experienced accountants and CFOs. Hiring a full-time experienced accountant or CFO is an option, but it’s one that would be a significant time and cost investment. The national average salary is $104,000 for an experienced accountant and $390,000 for an experienced CFO. Turning to an outsourced accountant or CFO can be a much more cost effective solution. The costs for fractional accounting and CFO services will vary depending on a number of factors, and is often dependent on higher-end initiatives like fund-raising and mergers and acquisitions support. Typical monthly engagements can range between $2,000 to $10,000 per month, or higher depending on the market.
Count on Milestone for Your Customizable Accounting Services
Have you been searching for “business accountant near me?” Well look no further. Milestone Business Solutions is a local Indianapolis outsourced accounting services firm with a national footprint. We’ve founded Milestone as a direct response to the need from small businesses and nonprofits that are looking for a true partnership in business.
Milestone offers a reimagined back office that provides you with expertise for the entrepreneurial journey. We provide bookkeeping, monthly accounting, Chief Financial Officer support, cash flow forecasting, and other operational consulting services. We combine the latest cloud-based technology with experienced accountants to give you the information you need to make smart decisions, and the time you need to run your business.
We have strong core values that are more than just words, it’s who we are. We call them our Core4.
- Service: We are committed to do our best – for our clients, for each other, for our business, and for our community. With each client and project, we demonstrate this commitment by going the extra mile in everything we do, providing value that exceeds expectation, and helping one another realize our goals and potential. We also understand the importance of serving our community and strive to leave the world a little better than we found it.
- Integrity: Who we are is just as important as what we achieve. We approach each client and every situation with honesty, integrity, and a firm code of ethics. We “practice what we preach” and apply this same code of ethics to our interactions with each other.
- Lifestyle: We are passionate about our clients and the value we create for them, but that’s not the whole story. We also value and respect our own personal goals for growth and development. We believe the more well-rounded, engaged and, well, “balanced” we are, the better we’re able to help our clients and each other.
- Leadership: We have a deep respect and admiration for entrepreneurs. After all, we’re entrepreneurs ourselves. So, like the business leaders we work with, we are innovative, forward-thinking, and dedicated to creative problem-solving. We are leading the way in vetting new technology and providing expert guidance to our clients, all while creating a framework that allows us to grow and develop new leaders from within
These values form the foundation of our firm and serve to guide us in building relationships with clients, team members, and partners.
We aren’t your typical professional services company. At Milestone, we believe in building partnerships with each of our clients to make their lives easier and provide them with access to all the information they need to make smarter decisions to help build a more successful business.
Wherever your business is today, and wherever you want to go tomorrow, Milestone is here to help you take the right steps forward. Click here to learn more about the Milestone difference and unleash your back office.