Professional Services Firm Strengthens its Finance Function to Scale for Future Growth
A professional services firm in the real estate industry had been growing its revenues at an annual rate of 25 percent over five years, to approximately $15M, but its finance function continued to operate the same as when the growth started. The finance function consisted of a fraction of the CEO, a fraction of the HR manager, and an outsourced bookkeeper – no full-time staff or Controller. The accounting system was comprised of a blend of QuickBooks and Excel to both conduct financial operations and measure financial performance. The firm decided to admit partners and acquire a line-of-credit to pursue future growth opportunities. The new partners required accelerated financial reporting, needing enhanced processes and internal controls. In addition, the firm’s bank required long-range financial plans and a model to determine the valuation of the firm. The monthly close typically took 30 days or more so the bank, management team and the partners were not getting timely or insightful information on the financial results or position of the company. All of these issues combined put the company’s aggressive geographic growth objectives at risk, since the financial processes no longer scaled to the level of business activity.
A seasoned executive consultant, now a NextLevel team member, was engaged to assess the company’s financial operations, identify gaps between its current and desired state, develop a plan of action to bring the finance organization to a level where it could scale to support current and anticipated future needs, and determine the capabilities and competencies required for the company’s first finance leader. In addition to a recommendation to hire a controller, the consultant developed the requirements for a more robust Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that would support process, internal control, financial reporting, and performance management improvements.
In only a couple months, the time to close and report results was cut in half. The company’s first director of finance was hired and integrated into the company; the company’s dynamic long-range planning and valuation model and annual budget were built and implemented; and key financial operation process improvements were made that accelerated accounts receivable collection and financial reporting to management, partners and the bank. With better controls, systems, financial performance transparency and finance leadership, the company was able to continue its growth strategy with confidence.