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Here’s a new and better way to help your clients access working capital – fast

What happens when your clients need access to working capital in order to fuel their business plans? Maybe they’re staffing up and need to fund fast-growing payroll expenses. Or maybe they need to buy equipment to ramp up production. How do they get financing when they need it, and what role does your firm play in helping them?

In the past, it probably looked something like this:

  1. Client discusses plans, goals, and current finances with accounting firm
  2. Accountant suggests type and amount of loan to match client goals
  3. Client applies for loan through bank
  4. Bank requests documentation, leading client back to accounting firm
  5. Accounting firm provides documentation to client or directly to the bank
  6. Client waits and hopes for the best

 

This is an unnecessarily clunky process for delivering on clients’ pressing needs. For starters, it tends to take too long. And when financing can get approved overnight, this sequence of events can take days or even weeks before the client can access the funding.

Additionally, the client often gets hit with high interest rates and a rigid loan structure that isn’t nearly as advantageous as what they should get. After all, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) showed that businesses working with CPA firms are more bankable, better prepared, and qualify for lending faster than those who don’t work with CPA firms, which positions them for better rates and a more flexible repayment structure. Most banks, however, don’t distinguish between these two groups – to the detriment of well-prepared clients working with firms like yours.

Your clients deserve better.

A new lending tool to help clients get the working capital they need - fast

These are a few of the reasons why CPA.com has just added a Working Capital financing option to its innovative CPA Business Funding Portal, created in partnership with leading FinTech Biz2Credit. This business financing solution has been used by over 6,000 firms to secure much needed financing for their clients. Originally created to support CPA firms that are helping their clients secure government-backed business relief through the PPP, the Portal has helped thousands of businesses obtain nearly 40,000 PPP loans totaling more than $1.5 billion in business relief. Based on that success, the Portal has expanded to include alternative financing options such as Term Loans and most recently, Working Capital.

With the new Working Capital financing option, firms can deliver a whole new level of service to small business clients – many of whom don’t know how to attain this type of funding or are at risk of committing to unfavorable terms. With your help, these clients can:

  • Secure working capital ranging from $25K to $2 million
  • Get approved in 24 hours – or less
  • Benefit from flexible repayment structures based on revenue – payable from receipts daily, weekly, or bimonthly
  • Target a wide range of business expenses, from payroll to equipment purchases and beyond

 

This is one of the most effective, efficient paths to working capital for most small business clients.

Nobody is better positioned than you to help small business clients

Your firm’s unparalleled view into the financial health of your small business clients, and your ability to help clients at the moment they need it most, can be transformational.

By helping a client determine how much working capital they need to achieve their goals, you’ll be doing your duty as their strategic advisor. Help them get approved for favorable working capital within 24 hours, and they’ll remember your support for years. That’s how the deepest loyalty is built – and the CPA Business Funding Portal brings it within reach for you and your clients immediately.

Plus, your firm can add a new revenue stream by earning commissions on financing applications that are funded, up to 2.00% of the funded amount. If your firm simply wants to provide these financing options to clients without a commission, the opt-out process is simple. You can also begin value billing for the guidance and support you’re providing to your clients by using the Portal to procure the financing they need.

Start building an even stronger, deeper relationship with your clients today

Joining the CPA Business Funding Portal is easy, and once your firm is verified, selected an annual subscription plan, and has been granted access to the Portal, you will benefit from an intuitive, cloud-based tool for submitting client financing applications. Imagine helping one of your clients identify the working capital needed to support their business at a critical time – and then being able to deliver a favorable financing arrangement to them within a day. This new tool makes it possible – and not just for Working Capital financing, but for Term Loans and Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Loans as well, with even more financing options like SBA 7(a) and SBA Express loans on the way.

To learn more about the Portal, its financing options, subscription plans, pricing, and how to apply for your firm’s account, visit: www.cpaloanportal.com.

Firms are using the new .cpa domain to supercharge their online presence. Here’s how.

Put a good idea in the hands of CPAs, and they’ll find innovative ways to make it even better. That’s exactly what’s happening right now with the new .cpa web domain.

When .cpa was launched in fall of 2020, there were plenty of good reasons for firms to take notice. For starters, it’s a practical way to enhance client trust – when clients see a firm with a .cpa domain they know it’s a firm they can trust rather than some questionable fly-by-night operation. That’s because only individually-licensed CPAs and licensed CPA firms can obtain a .cpa domain through a verification process managed by CPA.com, a subsidiary of the AICPA. There’s also the issue of security: When firms adopt the .cpa domain, they’re better able to protect firm and client data from phishing and other security threats, since top-level domains like .cpa are more resistant to fraud than the less-regulated, more commonly used .com.

And then there are the brand benefits. When it comes to using the .cpa domain to support their brand and marketing strategies, firms have been steadily innovating, creating new opportunities and advantages that weren’t immediately obvious. As a result, in only a short time the profession has seen a host of new domain strategies take flight – and they’re just getting started.

If you’re wondering whether your firm should make the move to a .cpa domain, here are some domain-based brand strategies (in addition to the benefits of heightened security and trust) that your peers in the profession are already putting to work.

“Let’s use this as an opportunity to rebrand”

Rebranding is perhaps the most obvious opportunity presented by the .cpa domain. If your firm feels tethered to a name or web address that it had outgrown, but couldn’t find a better option in the overcrowded realm of .com domains, the .cpa domain allows the firm to start fresh. Stuck with JonesCPA.com even though Jones retired five years ago? This is a rare chance to get the website address that fits the firm’s present and future ambitions.

“We need a shorter domain!”

As the internet matured, all the good domains were quickly snatched up. If you wanted to own the JonesCPA.com address, it was probably already held by some other Jones CPA, or by a squatter who bought it in the hopes of selling it at a higher price. This led to some very long domains that are virtually impossible for clients to remember. The .cpa domain offers the opportunity for firms to secure shorter, more memorable domains – a simple and effective boost to your brand and marketing efforts. That’s why Texas-based DWG CPA jumped at the opportunity to secure the dwg.cpa url, which is easy for clients and prospects to remember and supports the firm’s branding efforts.

“Over ten years ago, we secured dwgcpatx.com for our newly launched firm,” said Managing Director Darrell Groves, CPA, CGMA. “But as our firm grew and matured over the years, it became clear that our domain name was just too long and hard to remember. When we thought about the value of marketing our firm, and of having a shorter url, it didn’t take us long to decide we needed to make the move to a .cpa domain,” he said.

“Let’s target specific markets with our domain”

Specialization continues to grow in importance as a tool for firms to distinguish themselves from the competition and tap into a deep well of clients. For example, some firms focus on serving the restaurant industry, or manufacturers. Others specialize in certain types of services – taxes, SOC audits, or client accounting services (CAS), to name only a few. Some focus on segments such as startups. Some firms distinguish by geography and are looking to market themselves within specific towns, regions, or states. Many firms have already started to adopt domain names that reflect their specific niche, making it easier for clients to find them in online searches and reinforcing their commitment to specific markets. Acosta Tax & Advisory’s MiamiBeach.cpa is one example of this hyper-targeted strategy in action, helping the firm appear prominently in the online search results of prospective clients looking for a CPA in the area. Another is SOCAudit.cpa. Guess what they specialize in?

Firms can even heighten the impact of these urls through a multiple domain strategy. By leveraging website redirects, they can advertise market-specific or geotargeted url’s that stand out from the competition and then redirect web browsers to a primary website. This enables firms to have a primary website, such as Cromer.cpa, but to advertise catchy, branded domains such as TaxGuru.cpa or BayArea.cpa, while not having to manage multiple websites.

Even if building a website isn't a top priority, as often happens with sole proprietors or small firms, it's still vital to be accessible when prospective clients turn to the internet to find a business. Now, with the launch of the .cpa starter site, firms that buy a .cpa domain can take advantage of a free, one-page website that makes it easy for clients to find them online.

* * *

The .CPA domain hasn’t been available for very long, so right now is the best time to secure your firm’s top pick. It’s easy to do – just visit Domains.cpa. You’ll find all the details you need to inform your decision, including a whitepaper, case studies, and video interviews with leaders at firms who have already made the switch. In these short videos, these leaders share their tips and best practices for transitioning to a .cpa URL.

Your clients need help with spend management. Here’s why.

Note: You can watch this free CPA.com webinar on-demand now. Sign up here.

No matter the size of your client’s organization, expense management can be a repetitive and time-consuming experience. Too often, clients and firms find themselves distracted by chasing down receipts at the end of the month rather than spending that precious time looking ahead and planning for the future. Fortunately, technology is enabling firms to cut down on manual accounting tasks and focus on delivering high-value insights from proactive spend management.

In our recent webinar, Unlocking Better Client Insights with Spend Management Services for Your CAS Practice (sign up to watch this free on-demand webinar now), leading Client Advisory Services (CAS) practitioners discussed how they’re delivering deeper insights and client value through spend management.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the discussion.

  1. Spend Management is a Key Service Offering for CAS Firms.

    CAS is the fastest-growing practice area for accounting firms – and it’s on a steep upward trajectory. Why? Clients value the insights, cashflow analysis, and trusted business advice that firms provide. It helps them make strategic business decisions faster and with more confidence.

    As the demand for trusted accounting advisors continues to grow, outsourced spend management presents an opportunity for firms to deliver deeper insights and greater value to clients. In fact, processing and correcting one expense report can cost a business $110 on average.

    CAS firms can help clients not only manage spending across their businesses, but also unlock insights and strategies to proactively fuel growth.

  2. CAS Firms That Leverage Technology Help Clients Make Proactive Decisions.

    Traditional expense management is time-consuming, inefficient, and fragmented. Businesses lack real-time visibility into how money is being spent each month.

    As Logan Nichol, Director of Product at Divvy, a BILL company notes, “There are a lot of disparate ways and methodologies of spend. We never have real-time visibility into where every single dollar is spent. Time is wasted chasing receipts…and an employee must wait 30, 60, 90 days to be reimbursed for personal spend. It’s a huge problem that we know exists in the market.”

    It doesn’t have to take a village to consolidate spending in one place. It just requires the right tools. CAS firms are uniquely positioned to help clients evolve their practices through game-changing technologies.

    Divvy Accountant Advisor Program, in partnership with CPA.com, offers an integrated corporate card and software solution that delivers real-time insights into company-wide spending. It eliminates the need for expense reports, inefficient approval flows, and rampant out-of-policy spending.

    As a result, firms are able to have strategic conversations with clients about what is happening across the entire business.

    Dan Luthi, Partner at Ignite Spot Accounting Services, says Divvy is a win-win for accounting efficiency and client relationships. “We are having faster, more proactive conversations. Instead of us searching for a bank record to reconcile a bank account, we can process documentation much faster.”

  3. The Divvy Accountant Advisor Program Empowers Clients and Their Teams

    Oftentimes, expense management requires business leaders to approve every transaction. This can cause delays and create cashflow issues, hurting both the business and advisors.

    With Divvy, business managers can empower employees to control their expenses, increase spending visibility, and eliminate inefficient workflows.

    “It creates a very different relationship between the employee and the employer built on trust. Employees have control over how they should be spending their resources and time,” Luthi notes.

    Firms can set their clients up for success at no cost to the user, unlocking the following benefits:

    • Business leaders can easily issue virtual credit cards with predefined budgets to every employee – immediately improving security and eliminating non-compliance spend.
    • All transactions are synced automatically to the client's accounting software – delivering real-time visibility and reporting.
    • Expense reports are no longer needed – saving hours of time for firms and clients.
    • Receipts can instantly be captured through a mobile app – which means accountants will no longer have to worry about clients walking in with a shoebox full of receipts.
    • If needed, reimbursements are fast, free, and easy.

    Modern spend management, enabled by technology, offers a secure, controlled, and streamlined process. As a result, firms, clients, and their employees are able to collectively make better decisions and refocus their energy on business growth and improved job performance.

Are You Helping Clients Manage Spending?

Many businesses have little insight or visibility into their spending.

CAS firms have an opportunity to provide clients with the technology to transform expense management while providing financial insights and analysis. Divvy keeps accounting firms a step ahead with better forecasting and budgeting for their clients.

Watch the free webinar, Unlocking Better Client Insights with Spend Management Services for Your CAS Practice, to learn the best practices and insights from practitioners on how your firm can move from reactive expense management into proactive spend management.

Helping CAS Clients Manage Inflation with FP&A

With an increase in oil prices, pandemic-driven global supply chain issues and the “Great Resignation” talent crunch, companies and consumers alike are under increasing inflationary pressure. In a recent report from the U.S Labor Department, a key indicator of inflation, the consumer price index (CPI), indicated a 7% increase in 2021. Initial effects of this increase are felt in the form of higher wage costs, increased employee attrition, higher cost of raw materials and an overall lower demand for both B2C and B2B products.

Firms that offer client advisory services (CAS) are uniquely positioned to provide clients with models, forecasts, and budgets to help them navigate their business during times of increasing inflation. Here’s how they can make an impact:

Use modern FP&A Technology to help clients model, forecast, and manage inflation impact

It’s easier to address inflation with financial planning and analysis (FP&A). Here at GrowthLab Finance-as-a-Service (FaaS), we employ an all-in-one FP&A solution, Jirav, to help clients forecast and budget, allowing inflationary effects to be taken into consideration. When it comes to FP&A, we believe that a well-defined strategy is a key first step to take prior to any tactical considerations. Once stakeholders have agreed on a short-or-long term strategy, we can get to work modeling using Jirav. We find that if you put the cart before the horse and try putting numbers down first, it makes it harder to adjust for market conditions, such as inflation. And if you do happen to make it there, it may just be on pure luck, rather than rooted in the client’s concrete goals, objectives, and countermeasures.

When helping your clients define their goals, ask the following questions:

  • Where are you now? What resources (people and/or equipment) do you currently have?
  • Where are you trying to get to? What resources will you need in order to hit your objectives?

By answering these questions during goal setting, you begin to weave in considerations for inflationary pressures. For example, if you conclude that you’ll need to hire 10 new staff members to increase revenue, how much will that cost and when will you bring them on? How will inflation impact the compensation for such individuals? If your client is a service-based business and driving to appointments, how many miles does an employee drive daily? This translates into how many gallons of fuel are required to service the revenue goals, which should then be adjusted based on current (and predicted future) fuel costs, for example.

While the budget consists of more than inflation countermeasures, they are a good factor to keep top of mind. Jirav simplifies this by leveraging of assumptions – for example, you can set a predefined rate for things such as fuel costs. As the model is re-forecasted as the year progresses, that assumption can easily be adjusted, up or down, to reflect reality.

Adding value as a strategic advisor

As a part of your CAS offerings, it’s important to understand how you can help your clients manage inflationary pressures but also convey what it means for their bottom line. Here are some ways to help clients navigate times of increasing inflation:

  • Identify inflationary exposures to their business
  • Build inflationary expectations into your plan
  • Establish a cadence for a Finance Call to identify risks and opportunities to the plan
  • Engage the client in a monthly Ops Call to actively adjust assumptions in the plan based on risks and opportunities

Because we have spent the better part of the last decade in a low inflationary period, many of us don't realize that inflation can eat into your cash. Client conversations should begin with, where are you exposed?

The truth is that every company is exposed when it comes to staffing costs. Secondly, you’re exposed to any expense not locked under contract such as operating expenses. Lastly, for companies that deal with inventory, your cash is immediately exposed via your inventory purchases while your COGS has a delayed exposure to your NOP.

This is where FP&A can help clients manage inflationary exposure. First off, FP&A that is done well delivers an Annual Operating Plan (AOP) to the business every year. That AOP should be actively developed to contemplate increases to expenses that are expected to go up due to inflation. It’s important to remember, not all inflation is bad, especially if you can capture pricing opportunities. Don't forget to review pricing and adjust modeling assumptions.

Each month, FP&A delivers to the client actuals-to-budget reports and analysis. These reports are reviewed during the monthly Finance Call, which is scheduled as soon after the accounting close as possible. This reporting and cadence put business owners in the driver's seat to react quickly when expenses go outside of expectations.

A second monthly client call, the Ops call, is a discussion with the business owner around how to operationally change the business based on the risks or opportunities identified in the Finance Call. The FP&A team will adjust the forecast by rolling forward the plan based on new assumptions identified in the Ops Call.

FP&A services offer a tremendous growth opportunity for CAS practices. Your role as a strategic advisor is more critical than ever in helping clients manage the impact of inflation and reinforcing the value that you bring to the table. Leveraging modern FP&A technology to build forecasts, budget, and financial models instantly is pivotal to your CAS offering.

For additional resources and strategies on how to approach FP&A meetings and advisory discussions, leverage the following CPA.com resources:

 

 

10 startup companies leading innovation for the accounting profession

Each year, the AICPA and CPA.com invite early-stage companies worldwide to apply to participate in our Startup Accelerator. The program, launched in 2017, invests in and helps early-stage startup companies grow throughout the accounting ecosystem so they can help transform the accounting profession. The program also provides us with direct line of sight into emerging trends to help round out our overall mission to build an innovation ecosystem.

In a recent LinkedIn Live, CPA.com VP of Strategy and Innovation, Kacee Johnson, announced the participating members of the 2022 cohort. This select group of early-stage companies is developing a variety of solutions across audit, AI, risk reporting, education, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

As part of the program, these companies get exclusive access to a highly regarded panel of experts and advisors, which includes senior CPA.com and Association executives. Additionally, the companies receive a $25,000 grant and the opportunity to showcase their solutions at AICPA Engage, the profession’s largest conference.

“We’ve seen over the past decade how emerging technologies evolve practitioner skillsets,” said Johnson. “The Startup Accelerator was born from the recognition that we can help those companies who are making a difference for the accounting and finance role, and it allows us as an organization to lean-in to different categories to better understand future disruptive trends.”

2022 Cohort

The 2022 Startup Accelerator features the following companies and solutions:

  • AuditMiner – The Omaha-based company’s solution leverages automation to streamline and standardize audit workpapers and templates, increasing the quality and consistency of Employee Benefit Plan (EBP) audits across a CPA firm.
  • Once Accounting – (formerly BaCo Tech) - Managing clients’ records across multiple platforms can be challenging. Dallas-based Once Accounting is a client integration platform that seamlessly incorporates records into a firm’s tax or accounting solution
  • Fieldguide – Based in San Francisco, Fieldguide is an automation and collaboration platform that streamlines the end-to-end engagement workflow for modern risk assurance and advisory firms.
  • LumiQ – The Canadian-based company offers a native podcast app where engaging conversations with business leaders count as verified CPE or CPD credits. CPAs and accountants can earn credits on their commute, at the gym or walking their dog.
  • Knuula – Client Engagement Letters can be time-consuming and difficult to customize. Knuula, based in Frisco, Texas, streamlines the process by enabling firms to easily customize, distribute and manage client engagement letters.
  • Caesar Sustainability – The remote-based company offers a comprehensive data collection and management platform to centralize workflows and data storage for ESG reporting
  • ESG Trust – The San Francisco-based company’s integrated data management solution identifies ESG risks opportunities, measures standards, and maps stakeholders to the value chain, streamlining ESG information gathering and collaboration.
  • GoodLab – Based in San Francisco, the company’s ESG performance management and compliance software enables organizations to transform their ESG data reporting engine to deliver actionable insights and data to management, investors and customers.
  • Sustain Life – The company’s SaaS platform helps companies across industries reduce their environmental impact by providing ESG tools that enable the measurement and management of their carbon emissions.
  • Standard Carbon – Carbon is the newest asset class in ESG reporting but has yet to be recognized on the balance sheet. Standard Carbon, based in Winnipeg, Canada, aims to change that by leveraging AI to deliver transparent, carbon offset assurance statements.

How do these companies fit into the accounting ecosystem?

AuditMiner, Once Accounting, Knuula and FieldGuide provide solutions that help accountants work more efficiently, accurately, and effectively. LumiQ allows CPAs a unique way to consume content for CPE or CPD: podcasts.

With growing customer demand for sustainability, Environment, Social and Governance measures (known in short as ESG) there is tremendous opportunity for accounting and finance professionals to lead the way. Fostering innovation in the ESG space, the 2022 Startup Accelerator features a second cohort of ESG-focused solutions. Caesar Sustainability, ESG Trust, GoodLab, Sustain Life and Standard Carbon all contribute to the accounting ecosystem in supporting, reporting on and tracking ESG initiatives.

To learn more about the AICPA & CPA.com Startup Accelerator program, view this LinkedIn Live video or visit cpa.com/accelerator.

Want to hear more about the 2022 Startup Accelerator companies? Follow CPA.com on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

A Closer Look at Our Startup Accelerator Companies

The CPA.com/Association of International Certified Professional Accountants Startup Accelerator is an annual program that finds, invests in, and guides early-stage tech companies with solutions that support accounting and finance professionals. This blog series provides a deeper look at the five companies in the 2021 cohort.