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Creating a virtual finance office

VAT and Customs impact of Brexit

What actually is a ‘virtual finance office’?

So why would I want this?

But we’ve already got a finance team...

Still, isn’t a finance team just a finance team?

Is this just a finance team doing the same thing in a different place?
Well, maybe not.  

Okay, but what do you mean by ‘virtual’?

‘Virtual’ doesn’t mean ‘all done by computer’ or ‘I can never speak to a person’.

So how does it work?

What about cost?

How would a VFO or CFO help me?

So why would I want this?

But we’ve already got a finance team...

Still, isn’t a finance team just a finance team?

Okay, but what do you mean by ‘virtual’?

So how does it work?

What about cost?

How would that help me?

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone sharp focus on digital transformation.
So the VFO can include a virtual finance controller or CFO.  How would that help me?  

For anyone running a business, getting the finance function operating efficiently and effectively can present many challenges.  The finance team needs a range of skills, from processing through to reporting, interpreting, forecasting and strategic analysis – hard to achieve without hiring multiple people.

A start-up or small business might have just one person juggling not only the finance side of things, but also trying to actually run the business.  So help is needed but, do you employ an accountant who for part of the week becomes a highly paid bookkeeper?  Or a bookkeeper who then lacks the skills to deliver the financial information that you need to run your business.

A VFO is a way of effectively solving these problems by providing a technology-driven, flexible solution designed to fit your requirements and give you access to the services that you need.

But isn’t that outsourcing?

A virtual finance function goes beyond outsourcing.  The team works with you to ensure you have access to real-time and accurate financial information and also access to specialist advice and support when you need them.

A larger business might have a core finance team in place, but need additional support either at higher or lower level, or perhaps to work on specific projects, reporting equirements, or at certain times of the month.

Hiring permanent or temporary resource to help with such things involves administrative burden, and still doesn’t resolve the issue of how absence or holidays are covered.  Virtual finance resources can be scaled up or down as required to support changing business needs.

It is also increasingly difficult, or very expensive, to have expertise in house.  Can you hand on heart say you can keep on top of changing regulations and things like HMRC requirements with just your existing team?

Are your management reports based on real-time data?  Do they contain the information they need for effective decision making?  Can you and your decision-making team make sense of the financial information you receive and interpret it correctly to make evidence-based decisions?

A VFO is designed to do all this for you, and more.

We can all see that the definition of the workplace is evolving and this took a quantum leap in March 2020 when teams of all sorts suddenly found themselves working from home. Some businesses were able almost seamlessly to transfer their hitherto office-based finance systems to remote systems.

For others however it highlighted risks and deficiencies – risks of relying on one person to do essential processes, desk-top based and paper-based finance processes unable to function out of the office, inadequate controls and review processes reliant on physical presence, and lack of effective back-up.

In an ever faster moving world you need real-time insights into business performance. You might currently know the technology exists to facilitate this, but your book-keeper or accountant still works on desk-top technology and paper files. Meaning that you can only get information when you are both in the office, and when the bank records have been manually updated and the reports generated and published.  Costing you time that you may not have and can certainly ill-afford.

The finance function has moved from being simply a control function, to one that has a more strategic, value-added role by driving business insights, reducing risk and improving performance. This move is reflected in the development of the VFO concept.

‘Virtual’ doesn’t mean ‘all done by computer’ or ‘I can never speak to a person’.  

What it does mean is:
  • Empowering your business with a mobile, flexible, responsive, ‘fit for the future’ solution.
  • Access to multiple skilled people without hiring them individually.
  • Access to up-to-date technology, solutions and knowledge.
  • A cost-effective way of alleviating book-keeping burdens.
  • Eliminating tasks that aren’t adding value to your business – including moving those tasks to those whose area of expertise they are.
  • Being agile, embracing technology and being resilient.
  • Free up time to focus on running and growing your business, or spending time with your family, or simply finding some ‘me’ time.

In essence, there will be a menu of services and you can choose what you need and when you need them.

But with James Cowper Kreston it is more personal that this.

Creating a virtual finance office is never ‘one size fits all’ so we firstly want to take time to talk to you and understand your business what you are aiming for, and help you understand what you need. And then match this to the services that we can provide.  

These services might include anything from book-keeping, management accounting and reporting, VAT returns, treasury function and credit control to forecasting and scenario planning, attending management and board meetings and acting as a virtual finance controller.

We will put systems in place to ensure segregation of duty, review and oversight of transactions and operations – something that simply isn’t possible when the finance team is just you.

Of course, there may come a point where it makes sense to take the finance functions in house – and at that point you will find that having the systems and controls already documented by your virtual team is a massive advantage to you, and your new in-house team.

Virtual services are designed to be flexible, scalable and cost effective.

There is significant value in being able to keep your finger on the pulse of your business, knowing that the financial records you are relying on for information are up to date, accurate and reliable.

Indeed, waiting until the size of the business can really justify an in-house financial controller or CFO can really hamper the route to growth and profitability.  But employing expensive, qualified personnel before the business has grown is a cost that can be hard to reconcile.  

By picking and choosing what you need and when it is a perfect way to control costs while ensuring financial provision is aligned with your needs and ambitions.

Having a virtual finance controller or virtual CFO (VFC/ VCFO) as part of your VFO team gives you access to experienced financial professionals on a part-time and flexible basis.

Your VFC will monitor the financial health of the business, create budgets and forecasts, review actuals against budget and pinpoint problems or areas of opportunity.  They will assist with interpretation of the financial data, ensuring that business decisions are both well-informed and timely.  Your VFC will also design, implement and monitor appropriate financial systems and controls, ensuring that your finance system is robust and fit for purpose however the business develops.

Having access to a virtual CFO can be a major benefit for small businesses that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford access to this level of assistance with strategic direction. A virtual CFO will be proactive in developing solutions and in validating or discouraging business decisions with financial well-being and financial goals with realities clearly in sight.

Having access to this type of expertise through a bespoke VFO solution can be a key factor in how successfully a business is able to identify and respond to challenges and opportunities.    

Virtual Finance Resources

Additional support for existing teams
Removes admin burden
Scalable and adaptable
Dedicated HMRC specialists
Real-time data reports
100 years of trusted expertise
Future proof
Access to a team of knowledge
Latest resources
Digitising your finances
Efficient resourcing
Forward thinking approach

What actually is a ‘virtual finance office’?

A virtual finance office, or VFO, can exist in almost any number of shapes and sizes to fit all kinds of businesses.

In short, a VFO provides all the services you would expect from an in-house accounts team, without the overheads or administrative burden.

Think of it as anything from a ‘plug-in and play’ accounting department for a start-up or small business, to a flexible full service offering book-keeping, management accountancy, finance controller and even finance director of CFO support, tailored to match the needs of the business and of the business owners and managers.  

What actually is a ‘virtual finance office’?

A virtual finance office, or VFO, can exist in almost any number of shapes and sizes to fit all kinds of businesses.

In short, a VFO provides all the services you would expect from an in-house accounts team, without the overheads or administrative burden.

Think of it as anything from a ‘plug-in and play’ accounting department for a start-up or small business, to a flexible full service offering book-keeping, management accountancy, finance controller and even finance director of CFO support, tailored to match the needs of the business and of the business owners and managers.  

So why would I want this?

For anyone running a business, getting the finance function operating efficiently and effectively can present many challenges.  The finance team needs a range of skills, from processing through to reporting, interpreting, forecasting and strategic analysis – hard to achieve without hiring multiple people.

A start-up or small business might have just one person juggling not only the finance side of things, but also trying to actually run the business.  So help is needed but, do you employ an accountant who for part of the week becomes a highly paid bookkeeper?  Or a bookkeeper who then lacks the skills to deliver the financial information that you need to run your business.

A VFO is a way of effectively solving these problems by providing a technology-driven, flexible solution designed to fit your requirements and give you access to the services that you need.

But isn’t that outsourcing?

A virtual finance function goes beyond outsourcing.  The team works with you to ensure you have access to real-time and accurate financial information and also access to specialist advice and support when you need them.

But we’ve already got a finance team...

A larger business might have a core finance team in place, but need additional support either at higher or lower level, or perhaps to work on specific projects, reporting equirements, or at certain times of the month.

Hiring permanent or temporary resource to help with such things involves administrative burden, and still doesn’t resolve the issue of how absence or holidays are covered.  Virtual finance resources can be scaled up or down as required to support changing business needs.

Additional support for existing teams
Removes admin burden
Scalable and adaptable
Additional support for existing teams
Removes admin burden
Scalable and adaptable

It is also increasingly difficult, or very expensive, to have expertise in house.  Can you hand on heart say you can keep on top of changing regulations and things like HMRC requirements with just your existing team?

Are your management reports based on real-time data?  Do they contain the information they need for effective decision making?  Can you and your decision-making team make sense of the financial information you receive and interpret it correctly to make evidence-based decisions?

A VFO is designed to do all this for you, and more.

Still, isn’t a finance team just a finance team?

Is this just a finance team doing the same thing in a different place?
Well, maybe not.  
The Covid-19 pandemic has shone sharp focus on digital transformation.

We can all see that the definition of the workplace is evolving and this took a quantum leap in March 2020 when teams of all sorts suddenly found themselves working from home. Some businesses were able almost seamlessly to transfer their hitherto office-based finance systems to remote systems.

For others however it highlighted risks and deficiencies – risks of relying on one person to do essential processes, desk-top based and paper-based finance processes unable to function out of the office, inadequate controls and review processes reliant on physical presence, and lack of effective back-up.

In an ever faster moving world you need real-time insights into business performance. You might currently know the technology exists to facilitate this, but your book-keeper or accountant still works on desk-top technology and paper files. Meaning that you can only get information when you are both in the office, and when the bank records have been manually updated and the reports generated and published.  Costing you time that you may not have and can certainly ill-afford.

The finance function has moved from being simply a control function, to one that has a more strategic, value-added role by driving business insights, reducing risk and improving performance. This move is reflected in the development of the VFO concept.

Okay, but what do you mean by ‘virtual’?

‘Virtual’ doesn’t mean ‘all done by computer’ or ‘I can never speak to a person’.

‘Virtual’ doesn’t mean ‘all done by computer’ or ‘I can never speak to a person’.  

What it does mean is:
  • Empowering your business with a mobile, flexible, responsive, ‘fit for the future’ solution.
  • Access to multiple skilled people without hiring them individually.
  • Access to up-to-date technology, solutions and knowledge.
  • A cost-effective way of alleviating book-keeping burdens.
  • Eliminating tasks that aren’t adding value to your business – including moving those tasks to those whose area of expertise they are.
  • Being agile, embracing technology and being resilient.
  • Free up time to focus on running and growing your business, or spending time with your family, or simply finding some ‘me’ time.
Future proof
Access to a team of knowledge
Latest resources
Digitising your finances
Efficient resourcing
Forward thinking approach

So how does it work?

In essence, there will be a menu of services and you can choose what you need and when you need them.

But with James Cowper Kreston it is more personal that this.

Creating a virtual finance office is never ‘one size fits all’ so we firstly want to take time to talk to you and understand your business what you are aiming for, and help you understand what you need. And then match this to the services that we can provide.  

These services might include anything from book-keeping, management accounting and reporting, VAT returns, treasury function and credit control to forecasting and scenario planning, attending management and board meetings and acting as a virtual finance controller.

We will put systems in place to ensure segregation of duty, review and oversight of transactions and operations – something that simply isn’t possible when the finance team is just you.

Of course, there may come a point where it makes sense to take the finance functions in house – and at that point you will find that having the systems and controls already documented by your virtual team is a massive advantage to you, and your new in-house team.

What about cost?

Virtual services are designed to be flexible, scalable and cost effective.

There is significant value in being able to keep your finger on the pulse of your business, knowing that the financial records you are relying on for information are up to date, accurate and reliable.

Indeed, waiting until the size of the business can really justify an in-house financial controller or CFO can really hamper the route to growth and profitability.  But employing expensive, qualified personnel before the business has grown is a cost that can be hard to reconcile.  

By picking and choosing what you need and when it is a perfect way to control costs while ensuring financial provision is aligned with your needs and ambitions.

How would a VFO or CFO help me?

So the VFO can include a virtual finance controller or CFO.  How would that help me?  

Indeed, waiting until the size of the business can really justify an in-house financial controller or CFO can really hamper the route to growth and profitability.  But employing expensive, qualified personnel before the business has grown is a cost that can be hard to reconcile.  

By picking and choosing what you need and when it is a perfect way to control costs while ensuring financial provision is aligned with your needs and ambitions.

Having access to a virtual CFO can be a major benefit for small businesses that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford access to this level of assistance with strategic direction. A virtual CFO will be proactive in developing solutions and in validating or discouraging business decisions with financial well-being and financial goals with realities clearly in sight.

Having access to this type of expertise through a bespoke VFO solution can be a key factor in how successfully a business is able to identify and respond to challenges and opportunities.    

The information in this article is correct as of June 2021 and must not be relied upon as giving sufficient advice in any specific case.