Just like we go through awkward stages as humans, as your business grows, it will go through awkward stages too. One of those stages is needing more staff but not yet having the cash flow to hire a full-time (or even part-time) employee to do the work.
While a good employee is well worth it, they can also be expensive. Not only will you pay them wages, but you’ll also pay the company portion of payroll deductions and benefits. In many cases, there’s also the extra time it takes to train someone.
That’s where a virtual controller can help. They are paid based on their services so you may end up paying much less overall than you would for an additional employee. You won’t need to worry about the additional payroll costs either.
A good virtual controller can also help you get past those awkward business stages.
What are Virtual Controllership Services?
A virtual controller can do anything an in-house controller does. Businesses that aren’t ready for a full-time controller but need more than what their bookkeeper is providing use virtual controllership services to fill the gaps.
Gaps? What gaps?
You may think your bookkeeper has it all under control (and it’s possible that they do), but there is valuable information contained within your company’s accounting records. If your bookkeeper hasn’t been trained to know what to look for, you could be missing out on opportunities to grow your business.
The various services provided by a virtual controller depends on the needs of the business. Their duties can be as broad as overseeing all accounting functions or as specific as designing internal controls to properly account for cash management.
Some examples of controllership services include:
- Conducting full cycle accounting, including payroll,
- Entering monthly or yearly adjusting journal entries,
- Preparing and making tax entries,
- Documenting accounting procedures,
- Analysing financial statements and providing recommendations for improvement,
- Managing accounts payable and accounts receivable, and
- Reconciling bank accounts.
Just because your business needs more than what your bookkeeper can offer doesn’t mean you’ll need to say good-bye to your bookkeeper. In some situations this is the case, but often a virtual controller will work in collaboration with your bookkeeper.
How Can a Virtual Controller Help My Business?
Where it really benefits businesses to hire a virtual controller is when it comes to financial analysis. This can include things like:
- Identifying areas for expense reduction,
- Improving cash flow,
- Setting up project-based accounting,
- Budgeting for upcoming purchases, and
- Planning for expansion.
At Virtual Heights Accounting we use Spotlight Reporting and/or Float in combination with Xero to identify key areas of improvement for your business. Not only do we identify what can be improved, but we also walk you through the process. You won’t be left wondering how to act on our recommendations because we’ll be advising you every step of the way.
Our services allow you to be as hands-on or as hands-off as you like so you can focus on the reason you started your business in the first place.
The key to accurate forecasting and financial analysis is up to date records. If you’ve been operating without a bookkeeper or your bookkeeper is behind, we can get you caught up so your reports (and our analysis) are as accurate as possible.
What to Look For in a Virtual Controller
Unfortunately, there are no regulations regarding the title ‘Controller’. This means anyone can call themselves a virtual controller even if they don’t have the proper training to help effectively. Before choosing to work with a virtual controller, you’ll want to learn more about them.
Don’t be afraid to ask a service provider what training they have. Sometimes it’s easy to find out from their website. Working with someone who has a professional designation, such as a CPA, can offer a number of benefits to you as a business owner.
Professional bodies, such as the Chartered Professional Accountants Organization, are created as much for consumers as they are for professionals. Members of CPABC are held to the highest standards and are required to take annual professional development courses to remain an active member.
As a business owner, you are able to confirm a professional membership standing through membership organizations.
You’ll want to make sure the person you are considering working with as a virtual controller has experience providing this type of service. If it’s not apparent from their website, make sure you ask.
The type of clients the controller has are also important. You don’t need to ask specifics, but if you have a product-based business and the controller has only worked with service-based clients, you might want to keep looking.
Consider whether your business requires a controller to have specialty knowledge. If you need help with tax returns, a controller who’s not up to date on the current tax laws isn’t going to be very helpful.
Accounting principles for not-for-profit organizations are different from accounting principles for private enterprises. Be sure and check that the controller you want to higher has the right experience for your operations.
If you have friends who are business owners, especially if they are in the same industry, you can ask for recommendations. Virtual controllers will often have clients willing to share their experiences as well. Asking for a reference, just as you would with an employee, is a good idea. If the controller can’t provide this, that’s a red flag.
It can feel overwhelming when you need more help but aren’t sure where to start looking. If you’re wondering why your business isn’t growing, that could be a sign you need a virtual controller.
Virtual controllership services is one of our specialties here at Virtual Heights Accounting. Whether your business needs a complete financial check-up or just a few bank reconciliations, contact us to learn more about how we can help! Our goal is to make life easier for you!