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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners to reflect on their firm’s reporting process for Virtual CFO clients. What’s working well, what could be improved?

Reflection

We use Fathom to prepare reports for clients. Reports can be scheduled and sent out automatically. The biggest challenge here is that clients need to be held accountable to keep their data not only up to date or the data needs to at least be reviewed to make sure the bookkeeper is not making any mistakes that will result in incorrect results.

There is a review process each period, that allows enough time for us to ask meaningful questions and then also give the client enough time to fix any mistakes.

The report is usually presented in a client meeting first. Sometimes mistakes come to light when the business owners or managing directors look at the figures and there are adjustments that have not been communicated effectively prior to the meeting.

Before the report goes to the client it needs to then be updated and adjusted to what the client needs.

Challenges

The biggest challenges are when there are details missing and it is hard to hold the client accountable to provide the needed information. Further, the needs of the report need to be clear and should not change on a regular basis.

Solutions

It would be great to have interim reports that can be scheduled to go out and know that the data in the reports will be meaningful so the client receives a touch point and sees the value in the services.

Overall the reports are provided within the agreed upon time-frame and the time needed to prepare the reports matches what we allow for unless there are many items that are unexpected.

Communicating what is expected of the client in what time frame can be improved to avoid having to re-work any reports to show a more accurate picture.

Feedback from our experts

Providing accurate, relevant and timely financial and management reports to business clients can be a challenge, especially if the client does not have strong internal bookkeeping or accounting software systems in place. When taking on a Virtual CFO client, it’s critical that time is taken to ensure that relevant information can be extracted in a timely manner. We generally recommend that this is a separate project with clear scope of work and fee for service, independent of the fee for regular reporting and meetings with the client.

The learner talks about regular touch points with the client, so that they can see the value of the reporting service. A dedicated virtual CFO should be engaging with their clients at least once a month, probably more often if their reporting is required for cashflow management.

In the past, I’ve seen instances of financial reports being prepared within 24 hours of a client meeting, then errors being picked up during the meeting. Ideally, the vCFO firm should be trying to ensure that reports are completed, reviewed and distributed well prior to management meetings so that any errors can be picked up and addressed quickly. There’s nothing more embarrassing to the firm and frustrating to the client than finding a large part of a business review meeting is spent trying to sort out mistakes, rather than discussing business strategy.

How does your firm manage the process of collecting, processing and analysing data for financial and management reports? Does the fee for service incorporate the time to do this effectively (and also allow sufficient time to discuss reports, which after all is the real value of the engagement!).

This assessment task and response is taken from the Virtual CFO Advanced eLearning Course. Click here to explore this course

Also, take a look at the Virtual CFO Essentials eLearning Course

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