Whether you provide accounting as part of your client advisory services (CAS) offering or your service is more transactional in nature, you’re likely ready to move past the reactionary work, inefficiencies, and headaches that come along with traditional client-expense management. In our recent webinar with Summit CPA Group we explored how a leading firm is leveraging a newer, technology-driven approach termed spend management to grow their accounting practice.
So what is spend management technology?
Spend management technology encompasses an integrated platform and corporate cards. The cards are issued to an organization and connected to pre-set budgets and spend caps. Employee card transactions trigger real-time alerts to submit receipts, and expenses are automatically categorized and synced daily to the company’s accounting platform. Accounting firms and their business clients get a web-based dashboard in which to track spend against budget at the department, project, or organization level.
Four benefits of modern spend management
Taking a proactive approach to expense management not only gives organizations control over spending, it saves them a great deal of time and busy work. Here are four of the biggest benefits companies experience:
- More Control of Spend - Setting enforceable spend controls with pre-defined budgets will greatly reduce non-compliant spending in the organization.
- Significant Time and Cost Savings - Automating receipt matching, expense categorization and reporting prevents time wasted on chasing down receipts, submitting and correcting expense reports long after the fact.
- Improved Compliance and Security - Employees and vendors are issued centrally-managed corporate cards, eliminating the need for a shared company card or personal card reimbursement, thereby cutting down on out-of-policy spend and fraud.
- Streamlined User Experiences - Organizations get real-time visibility into all spending in a centralized dashboard and transactions sync daily to their accounting platform.
How Summit CPA Group integrates modern spend management into their services
Summit CPA Group is a fully remote firm that has been using their Virtual CFO model since 2004. They have more than 70 employees, including an offshore tax team and a dedicated technology leader. Their 150 clients contribute to a $9-$10M practice with 72% gross profit margins. Summit CPA is able to leverage modern spend management to build a highly-profitable practice.
A tiered subscription services model
Summit CPA clients are offered three tiers of service, ranging from transactional to strategic.
- Transactional – clients get foundational tax and accounting services; bookkeeping, monthly financial statements and tax returns
- Controller – clients get a controller who oversees all accounting-related and financial activities within the company
- Virtual CFO – clients get a virtual team of accountants, CPAs and tax professionals who take a strategic approach to help guide their business to success
The firm has good reasons for offering a subscription-based service;
- Year-round recurring revenue from their clients
- Higher margins
- Ability to offer real-time client insights given their visibility into company financial data
- Strong, long-lasting client relationships
However, they also recognize the risks inherent in this model - such as the risk of mispricing services and inevitable client-management challenges
Customizing pricing to client needs
In their initial meetings with clients, Summit CPA group identifies their needs and does a deep dive to determine how to best help them, asking questions that include;
- Why are you seeking our services?
- What are your needs?
- Are you replacing someone?
- What are your pain points?
- Do you struggle with spend management?
An Excel-based pricing model is shared in this initial client meeting and the monthly subscription fee for services requested is calculated in real-time.
The technology that makes modern spend management possible
Powering Summit CPA’s subscription model is a sophisticated financial technology stack that automates manual processes and frees the accounting team to offer strategic financial insights to clients. A dedicated technology leader is focused on vetting technology options, piloting chosen technologies with small client groups, and integrating technology into client services.
This is the approach that Summit CPA took with BILL Spend & Expense (formerly Divvy), the platform that powers their spend management services. BILL Spend & Expense is free-to-use software and corporate cards specifically designed to reduce expense-management inefficiencies for businesses or outsourced accounting firms and CFOs. CPA.com partnered with BILL to launch the BILL Accountant Partner Program, to bring this modern spend-management technology to firms who are looking to meet their clients’ needs for proactive advice and insights around their company’s spend.
With BILL Spend & Expense, Summit CPA takes traditional, static client budgets and operationalizes them. Client employees receive corporate cards and the firm has a dashboard to track client spend across the organization in real-time. Client spend is also synced daily from BILL Spend & Expense into Summit CPA’s accounting software to help the firm quickly prepare accurate financial statements.
Your technology stack is an integral part of your accounting team’s success and efficiency. By utilizing spend management technology, you’ll be able to save time, deliver deeper client insights, and advance your client offerings.
Using BILL Spend & Expense is a win-win for you and your clients.
Ready to get started? Watch our on-demand demo to see how it works!