A lot of people are surprised to find out I had a previous life as an accountant before I got into lending 20 years ago. I know the stereotypes about accountants, but I really see their skills as vital for business owners. I believe there should be a certified public accountant (CPA) superhero – that’s how important I think it is for business owners to work with a CPA.
My accountancy experience included corporate accounting involved in treasury functions, general ledger accounting, and executive management reporting. In public accounting, I was involved in audits, reviews, compilations, and advisory services/forensic accounting.
Now, as a commercial small business lender, I can’t help but have a lender’s hat on as well as an accountant’s when I begin to evaluate a company for a loan. Over the years, I’ve been pleased to see that many clients were working with CPAs who really took the time to ascertain the goals and expectations for the company. Having an accounting professional is key, especially in the small business space where most do not have the budget to hire an internal Controller or CFO – so the outside CPA is the person filling the gap.
On the opposite side, there are times when I evaluate the financials and can’t help asking myself, “Did this business owner have conversations with a CPA regarding the direction of the business?” I always encourage business owners to get involved in networking groups that promote strong ties with accounting professionals. At the beginning of a new relationship with a CPA, I recommend business owners make sure the new CPA will make time for you throughout the year to discuss the performance and direction of your business. CPA firms live from deadline to deadline, so it’s up to the business owner to ensure you’re getting the most out of your relationship to get well-acquainted with your financial guru – that person will guide you to resources you need for the success of your business model.
What should you discuss with your CPA? Everything! Seasoned accounting professionals offer a breadth of wisdom that is unmatched. More specifically, you should discuss the capital expenditure needs that include acquiring new equipment, commercial real estate, or even buying out an existing partner. Another key topic is business succession; how are mom and dad going to strategically dismount from the company and pass along the legacy of their life’s work to their family while securing their financial future into retirement?
As a banker with an SBA focus, I appreciate the value of how important it is to have open communication with the small business owner’s CPA. SBA loans involve certain reporting requirements that may seem overwhelming to a lay person, but are just a normal request to an accounting professional. Typically, CPAs enjoy working with me because they realize we speak the same language. We cut to the chase and work on addressing the needs of the client to get to the closing table. I can’t begin to emphasize how well the entire financing process moves along from inception to closing when an astute CPA is involved.
These topics just begin to scratch the surface of the symbiotic relationship between business owner, accounting professional, and your banker. Of course, I’m delighted to make referrals if you are looking for a sharp financial mind. Please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to make introductions.