Chief Financial Officers in today’s business environment are expected to do more than crunch the numbers. It is critical to the success of any organization that the CFO participates as a strategic partner by managing the strategic financial direction of the company. Our CFO Stack advisors can help you increase the value of the finance function by ensuring that the financial activities of the organization are aligned with the corporate business strategy. We are also experts in process improvement to help you ensure that your assets are properly allocated to bring the most value to the organization.
The mere mention of internal control often conjures images of red tape and bureaucracy preventing people from getting things done. And understandably so, the word control is right there in the name, and generally people don’t like things that try to influence or direct their behavior.Unfortunately, internal control has gotten a bad rap as a necessary evil that disrupts the work that needs to get done. Done right, however, internal controls are immensely valuable to an organization because they help ensure that the company, its teams, and its employees meet their goals.
All companies have internal controls, whether they are written down somewhere or not. Take, for example, a business owner who sets the expectation that the last employee who leaves the building locks the door. That means that an internal control has been established. Just establishing the expectation is not enough though. Sometimes information doesn’t get passed on when new employees are hired, and sometimes there is room for misunderstanding of informal controls. Formalizing internal controls into a framework is an important step and involves much more than compiling checklists. A complete framework requires detailed analysis and documentation.And, just as no two businesses are exactly alike, internal control frameworks are unique to each business and can’t be copied and pasted from one organization to the next.
With the right perspective, internal controls become enablers of a company’s business strategy. When a company defines their key business objectives, internal controls can be right there by their side underpinning the business objectives and helping to ensure that they are carried out.
The key to a successful relationship between internal controls and business strategy is to formalize the controls into a comprehensive internal control framework, complete with articulation of the control environment, management’s risk assessment and control objectives, control activities, information and communication mechanisms, and monitoring plan. This can be a daunting task. Management Stack can help.
When user organizations outsource business functions to a service provider, the risks of the service organization become risks of the user entities. Organizations that use service providers want to ensure the integrity and security of the system and company to which they are entrusting their data. Accordingly, user organizations are increasingly demanding that their service providers undergo an audit that ensures the effectiveness and reliability of their control environment. The result of such an audit, called a SSAE 16 examination, is the issuance of a Service Organization Control (SOC) report by a third party auditor.
The bottom line is that often, in order to compete as a service provider, obtaining a SOC report is a competitive necessity. Many organizations that are going through a SSAE 16 examination for the first time are overwhelmed or just may not have the time to research and implement the proper internal controls and processes that are normally evaluated during a SSAE 16 examination. This often leads to a “qualified opinion”, a modification of the standard opinion language indicating issues with the presentation, design, and/or effectiveness of one or more of the control objectives. A qualified opinion communicates to user organizations and user auditors that they cannot place reliance on the controls supporting one or more areas of the service and/or SaaS organization.
Management Stack advisors will leverage their extensive experience to help you avoid common pitfalls that occur in SSAE 16 engagements. We make specific recommendations to address potential shortfalls in the existing internal control environment. And, using a technology biased approach, we will help you identify and implement solutions to address the control deficiencies so that you will go into the audit armed with a sound, fully documented internal control framework. The SSAE 16 Preparation Program is one of the most fundamentally important steps that you can take to help ensure that your organization is fully prepared for a SSAE 16 engagement.
A financial statement audit provides the highest assurance that an organization’s financial statements are presented fairly in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. One important goal in any financial statement audit is to avoid any surprises. Being confident in the information that auditors are inspecting reduces a great deal of anxiety throughout the audit process. Confidence in the numbers comes from having schedules structured in an easily reconcilable format. Not only that, but providing information to auditors in an audit friendly format will save considerable audit expense when it comes to fieldwork.
Management Stack’s experienced advisors can ensure that you are prepared for the financial statement audit quickly and cost effectively. We will analyze your financial information and supporting documentation and convert it to a format that will maximize audit efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, we will work with you to implement processes to significantly simplify preparation for the next financial statement audit, saving you money year over year.
Acquisitions are becoming more common for a number of reasons. Whether the purpose of the acquisition is to merge with a competitor to increase market share, to purchase a company to gain intellectual property or another asset, or to simply buy out another company to eliminate competition, a thorough analysis is always critical. In additional to financial modeling to show you what the post acquisition financials will likely look like, a thorough review of every department and business function affected by the acquisition will help ensure success in the assimilation process.
Management Stack advisors are experts in the preparation of pro-forma consolidated financial statements, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, and profit and loss statements. Our advisors are also proficient in analyzing every aspect of acquisition, including human resources, operations, procedures, and compliance. We understand that acquisition is an important growth strategy, and more importantly, that thorough due diligence to determine whether the acquisition makes sense for your company is imperative before you sign the deal.
As your company grows, the need for immediate financial information increases dramatically. Financial reporting should be seen as a process to get the right information to the right audiences, whether they are internal or external. At the heart of improved financial reporting is the financial close – one that is more efficient, accurate, and timely. Often, financial results are delayed because of inefficient or non-existent processes, costing the business both time and money.
Management Stack advisors have extensive experience in developing processes to help get the right information to the right people at the right time. We understand that transformation of the financial reporting function involves creating a process that involves continuous improvement, a focus on systems, standardization, automation, and skill management. The role of finance is transforming from that of provider to that of analyst, supporting business decisions that are made every day. An efficient and fast reporting process is key to this transformation.
Today’s business environment requires more than just winging it in terms of knowing what the future likely holds financially. Budgeting annually just doesn’t make sense anymore. Sound and accurate forecasting methodology can help any business make better decisions, both to capitalize on opportunities and avoid catastrophe. Some companies forecast income statement results, but stop short of finishing the process by not creating balance sheet or cash flow forecasts. Forecasting across all financial areas of the organization is vitally important to the success of any business. The best forecasts use some degree of automation, depending on the systems available, to continuously update rolling forecasts based on the most recent financial results.
The Management Stack advisors understand that accurate financial forecast is a must to guide your business in the right direction and take control of your cash. Our advisors have experience in creating granular, detailed, rolling forecasts that can be continuously updated with new information as it becomes available. We can help you out of the darkness and into the light of knowing what the future holds so that you can make sound business decisions and grow your company.
Accounting errors can be costly. Decisions are made every day based on preceding financial results, and when the results that are reported end up containing inaccuracies, catastrophe can follow. The best way to guard against inaccuracies in financial reporting is account reconciliation, a process involving comparing two sets of financial records to ensure that the end result is the same. A robust and complete reconciliation program, which is performed on a consistent basis, lends credibility to the financial information, giving confidence to finance and assurance to stakeholders that the financials can be relied upon as accurate and complete.
At Management Stack, we know that every general ledger account should be reconciled. Whether that reconciliation involved data verification by comparing different sets of data and ensuring the same result or reasonableness testing by comparing results from different time periods, Management Stack can help you set up a complete reconciliation program including templates for your accounts to take the uncertainty out of financial reporting.
Many companies put all of their focus on cost reduction when cash flow gets tight. Cost reduction is a cost correction measure where a company reviews past spending and obligations to decide which expenditures can be eliminated to improve the company’s cash position. Cost optimization, on the other hand, includes cost reduction to eradicate unnecessary spending, but puts much more emphasis on forward looking, strategic efforts that drive positive change and focuses your company’s spending in the right places to maximize profitability.
At Management Stack, we know that the biggest driver of scalable, sustainable, cost control is to strategically design service delivery models to maximize margins. Not only that, but world-class organizations use continuous improvement programs, business process outsourcers, and shared service centers to enable sustainable cost management. We are experienced in developing and implementing these programs.