Aren’t you just another firm of Accountants?
We certainly hope not!
There are two factors which we believe make us very different …..
- We are not auditors, tax consultants/advisors, or anything like that. In fact we don’t even do our own tax returns, we use other accountants to do this for us!! Instead we are practical, hands-on Finance Managers who become part of your business and deliver for you and with you.
- All of our Partners, Senior Managers and Associates have extensive experience in industry and commerce. We are not from an accountancy practice background, and we believe that makes us very different. We have spent all of our working lives inside businesses at the coal face ….doing exactly what we do now!
However, this is not to knock our qualified accountancy colleagues. They too have a valuable part to play, we need their technical skills to undertake the compliance role, and to ensure matters such as taxation are efficiently dealt with. Indeed we often introduce such experts to our clients!
There are two types of accountants …. the technical kind that normally work in conventional accountancy practices, and those like us that work within businesses ….they are VERY different!
Are you a real solution, why should I not employ someone?
There are many difficulties in taking the employment option. Besides the tremendous risks and obligations associated with trying to find the right person and then taking them on as an employee, there is the problem of establishing what you need.
Larger corporates with significant finance departments can employ teams of people with a broad range of skills. Smaller concerns still need this breath of skills, but find it almost impossible to find everything they need in one or two individuals.
You need everything from a basic data clerk and bookkeeper to a Finance Director, and everything in between, and it is impractical to expect just one person to be able to do everything. If you compromise between the two, the individual could possibly resent the basic paper pushing work, and struggle to deliver at the higher end. They therefore often leave after a short while feeling a sense of dissatisfaction with the role.
We normally find that a combination of the right person or people employed by the company (often with our help) and the skills that we offer as and when needed, gives a very strong and robust solution, which is also flexible and effective.
One of the main benefits is that you gain the “higher level” skills from our input, which are often lacking in an “employed” solution. It is these skills that make all the difference between accounting for your business and financially managing it!
How long do you typically work with a client for?
We are still working with one of our first clients (from 1993), and also many others that we have been providing our services to for many years.
We believe this is because they can see the many benefits brought about by the value that we add to their businesses.
Most assignments start with a lot of intensive activity to resolve the issues the business faces, ensure that good robust systems and controls are in place, and bring the accounting records up to date and to a good standard. We then typically move in a much more value added role, working with the company's management to help them build and develop their business using the quality management information that can then be produced.
At this point our involvement becomes typically much less intensive, sometimes only a couple of days a month, as we can progressively hand over the day to day activities to a committed internal resource. But every case can be and is very different.
How can I be reassured about the quality of your work?
We pride ourselves greatly on the quality of the work we undertake, and are very reluctant to cut corners to get a quick job done. In the long run we know it does not pay off.
As mentioned elsewhere, a good analogy is painting your house. If you just slap on the paint on top of bad woodwork and old finishes, it may look good to start off with, but it will soon start to peel and you will be back where you started. A good job will require the woodwork to be well prepared, filled, undercoated and made good, even though when the top coat goes on you will not see all of this hard work. A good financial system is much the same. The work is in the detail, the preparation, the diligence in getting it right ….but you never see that, all you get is the final reports. Anyone can produce a set of accounts for you, but if they are not properly prepared and reconciled they are very likely to be wrong and therefore the consequences could be disastrous.
In addition we are an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) practice. These means we have to uphold certain professional standards, undertake continuous professional training and hold Professional Indemnity Insurance. If you are dissatisfied with our work or service, you have a right of recourse to ACCA as our regulating professional body.
Surely you must be very expensive?
We prefer to think of it as value not cost!
Getting a good job done is often time-consuming and therefore attracts larger fees. However, we will only engage in a situation if we believe we can really add some value. We will do this by providing good quality, reliable and timely financial information and financial management into your business, and then helping you to interpret that information to build a better and stronger business.
We cannot do this unless the financial and commercial records within the business are strong and reliable. In many situations we become involved with, achieving this from a poor base can be a long and difficult process. But it must be done.
We have never been accused of being cheap!! ….but many have seen the benefits of the tremendous value that we can add, and we have numerous testimonials from many past and present satisfied clients to demonstrate it!
How do you calculate your fees?
We start with a blank sheet of paper with no preconceptions, if we possibly can.
We do not like charging fees based upon the time we have spent on the client's work, but rather move to a value pricing model if we are able. The difficulty that we frequently face though is that it is often very difficult indeed to quantify this and find the right measure. But we will try.
We are very comfortable with contingent or success related fees, sharing in the rewards of the future, or looking at models where the business's ability to afford our fees is taken into account.
The solution is quite often a combination of all these things, with a base fee and possibly something more in the future.
We also look at the possibility of taking an equity position in our clients if this is appropriate. We like this as it puts us all on a level playing field and gives us a great incentive to build value.
At the end of the day though, we are in business too, and we must be able to see a way to make a decent return for our efforts!
I’ve heard that company rescues always fail
It is true that many do, but by no means all. The question is why.
In fact it is probably possible to write a whole book about why company rescues fail, so we will not attempt to analyse that in depth here. However, we do believe that many fail because of poorly conceived recovery plans and unrealistic expectations.
It is critical that any recovery plan is realistic and manages expectations properly. This is especially true where a CVA is involved, since if it is not written well, and the business fails to achieve then all is lost. It always takes much longer than anyone hopes to get a business back on its feet again, it requires patience to be rewarded, and this must be acknowledged in the recovery plan and by all of the stakeholders.
However, from the outset we will try our utmost to gauge the situation and only get involved if we feel that there is chance of success and that the business is ultimately viable.
How successful are you?
How do you measure success?
To us it means that we have added more than we have taken away (in terms of our costs), but it is often difficult to measure this.
Not every situation we have worked in has succeeded, but many have, and some have gone on to be extremely strong and successful businesses.
A good assignment for us is one where we can see the direct impact of our involvement, and that it has made the business stronger and viable. It is also one where we have preserved employment, built a strong and trusting relationship with our client, and continue to add value by our involvement.
Can you provide references?
We certainly can. We collect testimonials from our clients, associates and contacts, and these are available on request.
If you would like to learn more please complete our enquiry form.
After 10 years of successful trading a Braintree based HR consultancy firm hit financial difficulties. Due to changes and re-structuring within the Learning and Skills Council, severe delays occurred with cash-flow, causing major problems.
Read how Insight Associates identified the main problem areas within the business and helped the business survive.
Discussion and thoughts on good financial management and issues for UK small business
What's all the Hubbub About?
15 March 2011
We recently launched a new segment on a local radio program called 'Helping Businesses Better Manage Their Money'. Our feature airs each week as part of The Business Hub which is sponsored by Insight Associates. The 'hubs' concept is to 'Help Anyone in Business Succeed' and it's the first of its kind in the UK.