Depending on the skills breadth of their consultants, accounting consulting firms can offer a wide range of services, to a wide range of companies (across industries and company sizes), or they may have a narrower niche or specialties. Searches for accounting consulting firms can turn up a smaller accounting and consulting firm that is primarily focused on bookkeeping and helping some clients grow their finance operations, and you can find accounting advisory firms firms that offer finance and accounting solutions that can grow with your emerging growth company or fit the exact needs of a problem facing your newly publicly traded company. You will also find that Big Four accounting firms offer accounting consulting services.
For an accounting advisory firm like RoseRyan, our 100+ consultants become a part of a client company’s finance organization, to take on a one-time need or perform ongoing work. As the term advisory implies, we do offer advice and guidance, and we also roll up our sleeves and do some of the same work that a full-time person at the client company may do, including leading the finance organization, serving as controller, providing financial reporting and analysis, revenue accounting, or streamlining financial operations.
Accounting Firms vs. Accounting Consulting Companies
Accounting consulting firms take on a variety of finance and accounting issues and projects that are either too much for a company’s current team to tackle or requires a specialized level of expertise that the full-time employees don’t possess, such as technical accounting matters and process improvements. Another way these consultants fill a critical gap is when the company anticipates needing a financial audit. Generally speaking, an accounting firm or CPA firm is primarily focused on preparing companies for tax time or auditing their financial statements. These firms may refer a client to a consulting firm that can help the client prepare for an audit (this way, the CPA firm can maintain its arm’s length independence and give a fairly objective review of the financial records).
To get an idea of how varied and wide reaching a consulting firm’s solutions can be, consider what a finance and accounting consulting company is capable of:
- Readying a fast-growing, $20 million company for its first-time audit
- Taking a $500 million public company through a complicated restatement process
- Providing immediate cost-accounting expertise to a midmarket public company experiencing turnover and inefficient processes
- Preparing a company on the IPO track for the new reporting requirements it will face as a public company
- Supporting a VC-funded startup with a full stack CFO team
What to Look for in Accounting Consulting Firms
More often than not, a company looking for help from accounting consulting companies has a one-time or narrow need, such as an interim replacement of the controller role while the company recruits, preparing the company for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, or implementing a new accounting standard. Accounting and consulting firms will respond to this need with one or sometimes multiple consultants, depending on timing and how many experts are needed to get the job done. Consultants could work at the client company on a five-days-a-week basis for a stretch of time or just a few hours a week.
The scope of what accounting advisory firms provide sometimes changes as new issues arise. For example, during the course of a restatement process, as the problems that led to the need to restate financial statements come to light, so do the need for process improvements and tightening of internal controls. You want the kind of accounting consulting firm, equipped with the right mix of talent, that can peel back the onion to identify such issues and come up with solutions—so that the risk of a future restatement is severely minimized. New processes and policies, stronger SOX controls, training of staff, and other changes may be in order. For these reasons, it’s helpful to choose a company that’s highly adaptive, with a range of talent among its consultants to be able to quickly provide additional support, and the kind of expertise that can address problems as they arise.
How Do I Hire an Accounting Consulting Company?
Referrals from employees or other experts in your orbit (such as your tax accountant or law firm) can put you in touch with the kind of accounting consulting companies that can best help you. As you reach out to one of these accounting advisory firms and research what they can do for you, keep the following general criteria in mind:
- Experience: Perhaps the biggest benefit of working with consultants is they have seen and done it all—they’re bringing their experience of working in a variety of situations and companies to you. Do most of the accounting and consulting firm’s consultants have both accounting firm and corporate management experience? Have they helped companies in your industry? Has the accounting consulting firm itself been in business for a significant amount of time?
- Flexibility: By their nature, the best consultants are highly adaptable as they work with different kinds of people and different situations on a regular basis. Likewise, the firm providing you with accounting consulting services should be eager to learn about your business and able to customize their solutions for your problem or challenge.
- Expertise: Reputable accounting consulting companies are forthcoming about the specialties their experts (who may be employees or independent contractors) possess and how they can help your company.
As a finance and accounting advisory firm since 1993, RoseRyan offers financial management and accounting solutions from highly experienced consulting professionals. We understand the many finance and accounting challenges faced by growing and established businesses. Find out how our accounting consulting company can guide your company forward by contacting us today.