Guide to Accounts Receivable Services

Whether you call it CAS, Accounts Receivable Services, Outsourced Accounting, or whatever, CAS is one of the fastest growing areas for many accounting firms. The CAS benchmark survey shows that this area is experiencing double-digit business growth, a rate exceeding overall business growth. When automation is added, it’s like taking a rocket into the future. CAS is everywhere, but not everyone succeeds; a lot of companies are struggling to implement. If this is you, you are not alone.

What is CAS, anyway?

The basis of a successful CAS practice is knowing what you are selling. CAS means something a little different to most businesses, and this confusion is something that Hitendra Patil, author of “The Definitive Guide to Client Accounting Services,” noted early on in her research for the book. . He conducted an extensive survey of over 10,000 accountants and accounting firms on client accounting to find a universal definition of CAS.

“These three words are pretty self-explanatory,” he said. “However, it is often the client who needs to be informed about what CAS is. “

If customers think bookkeeping is a business treat, you need to change their mind and educate them. Month-end, journal entries, depreciation and maybe financial or even tax data production – all of these are potentially CAS. Tax can be considered part of the CAS if the accountant is also in the business, reviews the numbers and relies on his own accounting and financial data. The tax is stand-alone and separate from the CAS if the tax preparer relies on someone else’s books to complete the tax return.

“If you go back and clean up someone else’s mess, it doesn’t,” Patil said. “But if you’re the one who makes sure the mess doesn’t happen in the first place, it’s CAS.”

CAS and advice

While many people don’t really understand what counseling is, how do they determine where counseling comes into play with CAS? Is CAS primarily transactional CFO type stuff? Or is there really room for consulting services too? The good news is, yes, there is advice!

According to Patil, if you see yourself as the accountant of the business (the one on the inside), then you are looking to learn day-to-day bookkeeping. You want to understand the story the numbers are telling you so that you can then communicate it to the business owner. It’s consultative.

Patil draws an interesting parallel between being a CAS advisor and imagining that you are a member of the client’s board of directors: You have the knowledge to move the business forward, to connect the dots, and no one else can. This is what a good CAS advisor is.

Do you have the CAS mindset?

What is a CAS mindset and how do you know if you have it? Being in a CAS mindset is thinking like an internal management controller, but for several companies. You are not sitting in one company – you are sitting outside in an accounting firm. Think of it as a corporate CAS practice.

Start by “reconnecting with your main goal,” Patil said. Return to that place where you not only make a living, but positively impact client businesses, he advised.

To do this, you and your team must differentiate yourself from what other accountants do. Imagine you are hired in a corporate accounting department: you will need to identify and develop the skills necessary to be part of this type of team. You will probably also need to hone your team.

How to develop CAS skills

Younger staff do not have the opportunity to develop certain skills that would enable them to be successful in counseling or CAS. All team members must learn to communicate, listen, understand and make recommendations without going through a partner.

Patil recommends a practice in the shade. This means that whenever a more experienced CPA or accountant (such as a manager or partner) deals with a client, include two staff members who will be handling that client’s work.

“Let them be a fly on the wall,” Patil said. ” Do not say anything. No notebooks, no note taking, nothing. Just listen so they know what the customer is asking for.

The next part is where the skill improvement really happens. When you get back to the office, whether you pick up the phone or Zoom, have the staff write a page of what they’ve learned. Ask them to recap what the partner asked the client to do, what their recommendations were, and why those recommendations should be acted upon. These interactions are not limited to the gathering of information or the transmission of information, which is what many accountants are limited to. It helps teach them how to have real conversations!

Patil said that in three or four meetings, “the staff will be ready to connect the dots.”

Learning to communicate is a skill upgrade, that’s for sure. It is up to the company to recognize that this skill enhancement has to happen with the younger members of the team. This is how everyone can better understand what counseling is, how to have productive conversations, how to give recommendations to clients based on what they tell you and what you can see in the numbers they can not see.

The shadow practice is also helpful as customers now expect instant responses. It is not always possible to provide immediate responses, but that does not make it any less frustrating for clients when they do not have to wait for a partner to respond to something while another team member. might as well do it. They just need to be trained to have these conversations. Allow your entire team to be closer to customers.

CAS, change management and technology

With the rise of CAS over the past few years, it is almost essential that companies partner with it. If you don’t offer it, someone else will. If you don’t offer it well enough, someone else does. Customers will go to who can meet their needs. If you want to grow your business, you need to be successful at CAS.

As competition increases, one of the best ways to move forward, especially with CAS, is to automate. Accountants cannot afford not to automate. Patil has seen a reduction of 75% or more in manual processing of CAS workflows when processes are automated.

“To be competitive in this market, you have to take full advantage of the technology,” he said.

Consider changing who in your business does what. Managers should not be doing bank reconciliations. Managing change must be part of a successful CAS practice.

The implementation of CAS services is a great way for accountants to improve their practices, grow their business, adapt and evolve with the changing market. But you also have to recognize what you are trying to build and help customers know what it is, too. You need to understand the roles that skill development, automation, and change management play in creating this successful CAS counseling practice. It doesn’t have to be the whole business, but you know what? If you want to offer these new processes, workflows, and skills to everyone, this is a great plan.

Kristan F. Talley