Outsourcing accounting work is nothing new, but Rohina Batra CPA and her team at CFO Plus provide small businesses and start-ups with an entire outsourced finance department.
Rohina Batra’s warning to business owners to be cautious about outsourcing their finance functions does not sound that startling, until you realise that her firm’s raison d’être is to provide such services.
Her sentiments are not meant to diminish outsourcers, but rather to acknowledge that many businesses have had mixed success with outsourcing, especially offshoring.
“There are a lot of examples where outsourcing has gone wrong, and often it means more work for the internal team,” says Batra, founder of financial advisory firm CFO Plus, which pitches itself as “your outsourced finance department”.
In 2013, Batra set up CFO Plus to target early-stage technology enterprises in Australia and the Middle East that needed financial assistance in their quest for cost efficiency and growth.
She believes her firm’s point of difference is two-fold – its focus on the start-up and small business market which cannot afford a dedicated finance team; and a decision to provide a fully outsourced finance function under a single point of accountability. This covers everything from bookkeeping and accounts preparation to tax compliance, strategy development and CFO advisory.
“It’s very much like being part of the client’s business rather than being an external consultant or an accounting firm.”
To enhance the chances of outsourcing success, Batra offers the following tips: make sure you do your homework on outsourcing providers, engage with them to discuss and dissect service opportunities, ensure they are the right fit for your business, and focus on implementation.
Previous experience in the venture capital sector and senior roles with GlaxoSmithKline, the Seven Network and News Corp have given Batra the corporate finance skills to help others. Nascent businesses, in particular, need assistance around risk management, strategy development and business performance – “the stuff we take for granted in larger corporates”.
Now with a team of 15 people, including a good number of CPAs, CFO Plus prides itself on being a strategic business partner for clients, including sitting side by side with them in critical business meetings.
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“It’s very much like being part of the client’s business rather than being an external consultant or an accounting firm,” Batra says.
This people-first approach is complemented by technology advice relating to cloud-based accounting and record-keeping systems, including Xero, Receipt Bank and Dropbox, so clients have real-time access to company information and reports.
Although the emphasis has been on small businesses, CFO Plus also does project-specific work such as financial modelling, capital raising, systems implementation and risk reviews for larger enterprises.
For Batra, a sustainable approach will be the key to future growth. “For us, quality comes first. I don’t have a huge campaign to be on-boarding a large number of clients every month.”
The formula will include recruiting the right people with the right business skills and attitude to engage with and advise clients.
Four years into the CFO Plus venture, Batra continues to relish her decision to go it alone with her own business.
“It’s very gratifying, not just for me but the rest of the team as well. The satisfaction we get from delighting clients and getting direct feedback – it’s been an amazing experience.”
One piece of advice
“Invest in your team and their development. It’s really about building the right team if you want to be successful.”
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