If you search the internet you will find that almost every accounting practice now offers to be your Virtual FD. Compliance work on year end accounts and tax returns has become highly competitive and accountants feel they should provide additional services.
Many smaller businesses and SME’s can’t afford a Full Time (or even in some cases a Part Time FD) but they need help with:
- Business Plans
- Budgeting and Forecasting
- Cash Flow Management
- Buy or Rent decisions
- Capital Investment Appraisal
- Accounting Procedures and Systems
- Business Strategy
- Busines Funding and Investment
Virtual FD’s fill this gap because:
- You only pay for what you need
- There is no employment contract
- It provides access to higher level of expertise (in theory)
In May this year the ACCA issued a warning after research from cloud accounting software provider ClearBooks showed just 8 per cent of small businesses considered an accountant’s qualifications when choosing one. There is no law preventing anyone from calling themselves an accountant, and that as a result small businesses could be unknowingly paying someone without the necessary skills to handle their finances and help their business grow.
Although some unqualified accountants may do good work, an unqualified accountant is not answerable to any regulatory body and so cannot be disciplined. They have not passed exams that would have tested their knowledge, they are not subjected to any ongoing inspection of their practices and processes, and, crucially, they are not obliged to participate in any ongoing training to keep them up to date with ever changing legislation. Many may not even have any professional indemnity insurance, which clients can turn to if their qualified accountant makes a mistake.
So what experience does your accountant have to show that they have the skills to be your Virtual FD?
I am sure that in theory they have the technical skills but is that enough?
With the exception of CIMA accountants many accountants in practice have never worked in business let alone been a Finance Director!
I happen to think that time served experience as an FD does make a difference because it greatly improves your insight and skills.
Would you get on a plane with a Pilot who in theory knew how to fly but had never actually piloted a plane before?
When you choose a Virtual FD you are trusting them with the success of your business. Choose wisely!