Business Consulting

Choosing the right account is important.

In a previous article, I discussed what CPA means and why it is important to choose an accountant with the CPA designation. Now I want to talk about other considerations when choosing an CPA that is the right fit for you or your company.

Does your accountant have relevant experience?

First, I would like to talk about experience.

  • How long have they been working in public practice?
  • Have they been around for many years or did they just decide to open up shop one day and may be gone the next?
  • What about the type of clients and industry they have past or current experience with?

When meeting with a potential new accountant, you should feel free to ask how long they have been in practice. You should also ask about their existing client base to find comfort that they have experience in your industry.

What is the accountant’s availability and communication like?

Another important consideration is availability.

  • Does your accountant return your phone calls and emails in a timely manner?
  • Do they have a partner or staff that can assist you with urgent matters if they are on holidays?

It is imperative to know that if something unforeseeable happens that prevents your accountant from continuing their practice that there is someone available to assist you.

Does the accountant have a strong professional network?

It can be beneficial to clients when an accountant has a team of people that they can rely on to take care of the needs of their clients.

  • What about their contact sphere?
  • Do they have other professionals they trust and work with regularly that you may also need?
  • If you find yourself in need of a new bookkeeper or a corporate lawyer, does your accountant have connections that may help you?

Are you comfortable discussing hard topics with the accountant?

Now let’s discuss comfort level.

You only need to talk to your accountant once a year so it doesn’t matter if you like them and feel comfortable with them, right? Wrong!

Your accountant should know all your confidential financial information and you should be comfortable to discuss this with them. The more your accountant knows about you, the more likely they will be able ensure that you are utilizing all the tax credits and deductions available to you. The more comfortable you are with your accountant, the more likely you also are to ask questions if you do not understand something.

It is important for a taxpayer to have some basic understanding of their financial statements and income tax return.

The partners of Richardson Miller LLP Chartered Professional Accountants have a combined 35 years of experience in public practice in several different industries. Our clients are important to us and we pride ourselves in our client relationships. We know that the world of tax is complex and confusing, so we aim to educate our clients in a way that is understandable and relevant to them.

CPA makes a difference in your protection

Have you ever looked for professional accounting services and been overwhelmed by the number of businesses to choose from? Have you ever noticed some of these companies have a Chartered Professional Accountant and some do not? What does Chartered Professional Accountant, or CPA, even mean?

Let us help shed some light on this.

Chartered Professional Accountants Association aka CPA

The Chartered Professional Accountants Association is a professional regulatory body that focuses on protecting the public. What does CPA stand for? When an accountant has CPA after their name that means they have completed:

  • a university degree (or equivalent);
  • a couple of years of practical work experience;
  • and professional level exams in order to receive the CPA designation.

An ongoing 40 hours a year of professional development is required to maintain the CPA letters. The Association protects the public by ensuring its members meet their high professional conduct and ethical accounting standards. They continue to monitor CPA firms to ensure ongoing competency, absence of professional misconduct, and validity of applicants for membership

Who is regulating the non-CPA firm to ensure they are qualified as well?

Unfortunately, in Alberta, there is no law to prevent anyone from calling themselves an “accountant”. It is the old “buyer beware”; if there is no CPA in the firm name or behind the accountant’s name, there is no one regulating the work being performed.

If the strict monitoring of a CPA firm isn’t enough to help you make a choice, you should also consider current and future financing. Depending on the level of financing, financial institutions may require a company’s financial statements to be prepared by Chartered Professional Accountant.

Check out the CPA Alberta website for more information on protecting the public or to verify that a chartered accountant, or a firm, is registered with the CPA Alberta Association.

How Can a CPA Help Me?

A chartered professional accountant can offer a variety of services to ease the burden of finances. Professional accountants can offer tax services, manage audits, and perform CFO functions. As a business owner, the business is your top priority. Hiring a chartered professional accountant to manage your finances gives you the extra time to invest in your business. CPAs can perform financial services in less time, with fewer clerical errors, and with a wider range of knowledge gained from education and experience.

“Many businesses choose to work with chartered accountants because of so many reasons. These professionals are experienced and vigorously trained to handle all tax and finance-related problems. Yes, hiring a chartered accountant will be an added expenditure, but the money they help you save will certainly outweigh those costs.” source: Small Business Sense

Investing in a CPA is investing in your business

Tax planning can assist you in saving thousands of dollars. Proper planning and filing of forms help you to avoid audits, penalties, or late filings. CPAs are professionally trained and knowledgeable on tax laws and how to use them to their advantage. We all know the headache of cutting through the red tape of taxes. CPAs will slice through and come out saving you in the end.

Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. What comes with taxes? Audits. Chartered accountants can help protect your business and prepare you for the inevitable. Having a chartered professional accountant backing you when the Canadian Revenue Agency comes knocking is the highest reassurance one can have. They will know the proper steps and procedures to appease the CRA. Knowing your finances have been professionally prepared and documented takes all the burden during this potentially stressful time.

Did you know that chartered accountants can do more than just taxes?

CPAs can fill the role of Chief Financial Officers, CFOs. They can help manage expenses, perform payroll analysis, and assist in financial planning for the future. Outsourcing the role of CFO helps businesses have a professional perspective of the entirety of their finances. Along with business owners and management, CPAs can help develop solid financial plans to ensure the growth of businesses.

With ongoing training and certified professional education requirements. chartered professional accountants a wealth of knowledge available to business owners. Laws and industry standards are constantly changing. CPAs make staying on top of these changes their job. Knowledge is power and nothing comes close to the strength of CPAs when it comes to finances. This powerful ally is waiting to be called on whenever necessary.

Industry-Specific CPAs

Within the Accounting Industry, the CPA profession is diverse as the businesses they serve. CPAs can choose to specialize in certain areas of the accounting profession. A chartered professional accountant’s specialty can vary based on the size of the business they wish to represent, the types of businesses, or even accounting services they have honed throughout their accounting career. Business size has a massive impact on money management.

CPAs choosing to specialize in small businesses will have many more strategies and methods to best serve their clients. CPAs choosing to focus on a type of business within a specific service or industry will have more knowledge of the laws and regulations of this field. They are trained and educated in all areas of the accounting profession, however, CPAs can be more proficient in some services.

Hiring a Chartered Professional Accountant is important for your business. We have a proven track record of success and are qualified and motivated to provide you with the best financial advice and tax strategies for your business.

Click here to contact us today and learn more about how we can help your business grow.

Profit and Loss Statements Don’t Tell The Whole Story

Your profit and loss statement showing you positive numbers. Yet you are struggling to find the cash to pay your bills on time. Or perhaps your sales volume has increased but you have less cash than ever? Sound familiar? Cashflow (defined as the net amount of cash being transferred in and out of a business) can make or break a profitable business. Poor cash flow can cripple a businesses ability to increase sales volume or if prolonged, can result in bankruptcy.

How to Improve Cashflow

  1. Get Paid Faster. It doesn’t matter how high your revenues are if your customers don’t pay you. Check out the article for some tips on how to speed up the collection process.
  2. Structure loan repayment terms appropriately. Are you trying to aggressively pay off that equipment loan in only a year or two? Talk to your accountant and banker about appropriately structuring that debt over the useful life of the asset.
  3. Take advantage of free credit. Are you paying your bills as soon as they arrive in the mail? Try waiting until the date that the payment is due or negotiate longer payment terms.
  4. Monitor inventory. Keep inventory at a reasonable level for your business. Several months’ worth of product sitting in your warehouse isn’t going to help when your checks start bouncing.
  5. Monitor overhead costs. Every little bit helps. Take the time to carefully review your subscription costs, telephone bills, vendors. Are you paying for things that you no longer need? Are there opportunities to negotiate a better deal?

How NOT to improve Cashflow

  1. Postpone filing and paying your source deductions with Canada Revenue Agency. The penalties and interest are not deductible for tax purposes and can add up in a real hurry. Continual late payments can also get you flagged for a payroll audit.
  2. Postpone filing and paying your GST/HST. Similar to your payroll, Canada Revenue Agency gets pretty cranky when these payments are late. Not paying GST on time is a great way to get your bank accounts seized.

Cashflow Analysis

Have you ever analyzed your cash flow?

A full analysis can be an eye-opening experience to realize the health… or the limitations of your current business operations.

Can You Afford to Grow Your Business?
  • Does your business incur direct costs prior to receiving payment from customers?
  • When are you required to pay your vendors/employees?
  • Compare this timeline to when you typically receive payment from your customers. How long are you required to finance your sales?

This gap between paying for costs and receiving money from your customers is referred to as your working capital days. The greater your working capital days, the greater your requirement to finance when you increase your revenues.

Do you know how many working capital days you’re currently financing in a line of credit? How much financing is required to grow your sales volume by $100? A detailed professional analysis can provide insight.

Example:

Picture a trucking company in Alberta. The typical customer tends to pay within 65 days from the invoice date. The company must pay its employees at the end of the month. During busy times, management relies on subcontract drivers who also demand payment by month-end. The company must also pay for fuel, repairs and various other costs within a timely basis. On average, the company must pay its’ costs within 25 days.

Based on current operations, this company must finance the costs of their sales for a full 40 days before receiving payment. The company relies on lines of credit and reserve savings to finance these sales. When sales volume increases, a larger line of credit is required. Consider additional costs associated with grown (equipment, staffing, etc.) combined with a larger line of credit. At a certain sales level, if cash flow is not carefully monitored, the company may simply not be able to obtain enough financing to grow.

The Power of One

The power of one (as part of a professional cash flow analysis) can be a useful tool in truly realizing the impact of minor changes in your business operations.

What would your cash balance/income/value of the business be if you:

  • Collected your accounts receivables just one day sooner
  • Paid vendors just one day later
  • Increased your sales volume by 1%
  • Increased your prices by 1%
  • Decreased your cost of sales by 1%
  • Decreased the cost of your overhead by 1%

These tiny amounts can equate to significant differences in the health of an organization. Perhaps that line of credit could turn into a positive cash balance. Quite often, this illustration can aid in management decision making.

Sometimes that decision is: We can’t afford not to hire extra office staff to help us keep on top of invoicing and collections.

Call me to discuss how a professional cash flow analysis can benefit your company.

New Entrepreneur Check List:

  • Brilliant idea?  Check.
  • Endless passion?  Check.
  • Supernatural ambition?  Check.
  • Nerves of steel?  Check.
  • A clear vision of success?  Check.
  • An accountant?  …. WHAT? WHY? …I haven’t made any money yet.  Why do I need to worry about accounting?

That is a fantastic question.

You don’t know what you don’t know.  When you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s easy to overthink the unknown.

Does it make sense to incorporate?  How do I incorporate? Do I need to register for GST?  Payroll vs Dividends? What can I deduct? How do I track my information?  When do corporate taxes need to be filed? Paid? How much to save for tax and GST?  Who should own shares in the corporation?

At this point, new entrepreneurs will generally do one of the following:

  1. Spend countless hours online trying to find information.
    There are endless sources of information online. Is it true?  Is it understandable? Is it relevant? How much time was spent researching stuff that you really don’t care about?
  2. Procrastinate.
    It’s easy to become overwhelmed at the thought of all those questions and vow to deal with it soon… very soon… next month for sure. Ignoring Canada Revenue Agency and it’s various filing requirements rarely ends well.  Consequences can range from penalties and interest to CRA seizing your bank accounts. It’s difficult to run a business when CRA strips your bank account of every penny each time you make a deposit.
  3. Ask friends and relatives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my clients say, “But my neighbour said I could claim all of my personal grooming expense in my business because I have to look presentable and presentable”.Or “My brother in law says he claims______________ ***insert ridiculous personal expenses here***_______”   All is well and good until there is an audit. At this point, you’re dead in the water.

Bringing an accountant from day 1 can:

Save you time.

  • More time to focus on your business—and less time is taken away from your family and loved ones.

Save Money.

  • Procrastination can be extremely expensive in late penalties
  • Also, save by coming up with a tax plan custom to YOUR business and personal situation
  • Perhaps there are certain elections you’d qualify for… or grants

Gain knowledge.

  •  An accountant can offer a bird’s eye view on your business idea.  What haven’t you thought about? Insurance? Financing? Are you partnering up with someone without a unanimous shareholder agreement?  What sorts of things can you deduct as it pertains to YOUR industry?

Assist in creating a strategic plan.  

  • Should you incorporate?  If incorporation is a logical choice, when should you incorporate?  Perhaps you’d be better off operating as a proprietor for a year or two first.  What would be an appropriate corporate fiscal year end date? People assume that December 31 is the obvious choice for a fiscal year-end.  The reality is, you can choose any date for a year-end and a non-December year end allows for so much more flexibility in tax planning.
  • When are the various government filings due?  Avoid surprises and prepare in advance.
  • How are you going to maintain your records?  Can you manage the documents yourself?  What tools/software and applications are available?  Do you need to hire a bookkeeper? What documents should be kept and for how long?  What are your options for the organization?
  • How are you going to pay yourself?  How much do you need to set aside for tax?
  • How are you going to manage your cash flow?  An accountant can assist with some strategies to make sure there is money in the bank.

Gain Peace of Mind:  – carry on your first year KNOWING that you’ve got a plan of action.

If you have questions about getting started, comment below or contact us.