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Tech-Savvy — You Know Why!

August 2, 2011

How CPA's are Experiencing Client Growth Through the Recession…

This recession has taken a toll on all of us, but some C4_accounting seem to survive the recession and come out of it stronger, as they find technologies to help their clients reduce expenses while increasing revenues.

Businesses are all confronted with challenges to maintain liquidity and anticipate fluctuating customer demand while stabilizing operating performance. Most businesses are looking to their CPAs to help them weather the troubled economy, but it is the Tech-Savvy CPA who is truly arming their clients with consistent success. These CPA's have found solutions that reduce a clients overhead, easily manage cash flow and reduce/eliminate their clients time chasing payments.

Savvy businesses aren't the only ones reducing expenses. A biennial survey conducted by the AICPA's Private Companies Practice Section and the Texas Society of CPAs shows that following the recession; the most successful CPA firms have sharpened their business management skills to soften the economic blow. From 2008 to 2010, 30 percent of larger accounting firms experienced a decline in gross fees (the average owner's hourly rate was $179, while rates ranged from $117 at the smallest firms to $319 at the largest). As with most industries, CPAs feel the pressure of higher expectations for productivity. They're no longer guaranteed customer growth, and as a result, they need to protect the bottom line and make changes to preserve cash flow. Fortunately, Bill.com's CPA customers have a variety of weapons in their arsenal to protect themselves and their clients.

Many CPAs noted that this is a common problem in recession times and have taken the initiative to address client recession concerns. Since every business must develop plans that make sense to their individual needs, tech-savvy CPAs are busy with cash flow forecasting, advisory work for clients adjusting to a tougher business environment, redesigning clients' business processes and providing services on risk and fraud management. The results have been impressive as firms embrace cloud based technologies to increase productivity while reducing costs. Firms have been able to recruit new clients, develop new services for existing clients and retain clients by increasing client satisfaction.

"Our CPA customers are seeing the opposite of December's biennial survey's results," said René Lacerte. "They're actually more productive without feeling that tremendous stress because the Bill.com cloud based software platform makes it easy. And with this, they're managing more clients, who are referring them to other clients, and it evolves into this collaborative, word-of-mouth business environment. We're incredibly happy that our customers are successful growing during the recession while saving both time and money."

Progressive CPAs Seek Cloud-Based Solutions to Automate

One firm at the forefront of accounting firms that has embraced the new technologies is Blumer & Associates, CPAs, PC. Jason Blumer, President and Managing Shareholder, is always looking for ways to keep his firm and his clients more profitable, more productive, more efficient and in the technology vanguard. Blumer says, "We've been ′ministering′ in the realm of business for over 15 years, with the goal of making our clients think and challenge the common-place to grow and thrive."

Early on, Blumer identified bill pay management and the accounts payable process as a time- and labor-intensive area that could benefit from automated paperless technologies. Like many other firms, bill management and the A/P process comes with a host of challenges for a firm and its clients, including the timely receiving, approving, and tracking of bills; bills getting lost; tedious data entry; lack of a standardized process; and fraud risk.

Bill.com CPA Program Increases Profitability While Driving Greater Efficiency and Improved Client Collaboration

Bill.com, a paperless bill management solution, enabled Wegner to automate the bill management and A/P process. Through this cloud-based service delivery platform, Richter's firm is able to set up their clients on Bill.com and create a standardized digital workflow for submitting, approving and paying bills electronically. The data synchronizes with their accounting package and helps their clients better manage cash flow. By automating the bill pay process, Wegner has experienced an increase in staff productivity, reduction in non-billable hours and enhanced client collaboration.

Clients also benefit from the technology savings. Wegner CPA clients pay a monthly fee to the firm for services, a rate that's normally increased at the start of each New Year. "We gained so much time with the Bill.com integration," Richter said, "that clients on the new system, received lower increases for 2011. And our clients vendors are happy because they are now getting paid electronically, in three to five days, instead of waiting a week or more to receive a paper check."

CPAs are also recognizing Bill.com's cloud based financial platform is ideal for clients in industry verticals such as franchises who have multiple stores/locations that need to review bills from a common set of vendors/suppliers and can leverage a centralized dashboard for easy cash flow review and simple approval of the bills for all locations.

Another firm capitalizing Bill.com's efficiencies is Minnesota based accounting firm, Moquist Thorvilson Kaufmann Kennedy & Pieper LLC (MTK). MTK introduced its client Peter Gaspary, the owner of 28 Miracle-Ear Stores across Illinois, to Bill.com. MTK sold Gaspary on a whole new way for doing bill management, showing him how he could easily view his cash flow for all 28 stores in one simplified location. Gaspary excitedly embraced the new technology and commented, "I have a better understanding of what's happening on a cash flow basis because Bill.com's calendar acts like a whiteboard, telling you what needs to be paid this week, plus three weeks in advance. There's a certain comfort in knowing that my accountant is handling my books."

From this success with franchisee Peter Gaspry, MTK has successfully implemented Bill.com's cloud based financial platform it to new franchisee customers in Virginia and Florida allowing them to grow their Minnesota based firm and increase revenues.

Bill.com's most recent offering on its platform is their receivables package that synchronizes into your clients accounting programs and will automatically sends out e-mail invoices assigned accounts. Colorado based ASAP Accounting and Payroll Services loves this new application for their homeowner association clients. Tracking down and notifying 900 resort-area homeowners about their assessments and reminding them of missed payments was an enormous task for ASAP. Then they began working with Bill.com to develop its online payment management system that automatically bills homeowners, keeps track of when they pay their dues, and nudges them when they don't.

"Homeowners like the new arrangement," said Diana Murray, ASAP's director of business development. "Because they have control over their accounts. They can choose to initiate electronic payments each month and decide which day to pay their dues. Some elect to set up recurring payments when the dues are consistent."

Dan Lind, Bill.com's vice president of operations and support, reports that, on average, customers using the Bill.com's Receivables program with its e-payment option are getting paid 2 to 3 times faster than with their previous paper systems. E-payments, Lind says, average just five days from the invoice due date, while payments by check take 12 days. Murray says, "Getting paid faster makes an enormous difference to our small and mid-sized business customers who rely on steady cash flow."

Protecting Clients from Fraud

Based on a 2010 Report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner (ACFE), on average small businesses lose 5% of annual revenue to fraud. Accounting departments experience the largest percentage of fraud with check tampering and billing as the easiest type of asset misappropriation. As a certified fraud examiner, Jason Blumer has identified Bill.com as an invaluable tool for his small business clients in establishing internal controls in the A/P process to mitigate the potential for fraud and asset misappropriation. "When you operate in the cloud with a financial system like Bill.com that delivers security, it reduces the chance that things will be manipulated" says Blumer. "Because Bill.com is an audited digital process and no user can access system data without their user-restricted access code."

One additional benefit from using Bill.com's cloud based financial platform is that it provides CPA Clients a free place to store all documentation, allowing the user or the CPA to find answers on contracts and bills easily by diving into the digitally stored documents. Latha Saikrishnan, Manager of Outsourcing Solutions in LarsonAllen's Arlington, Virginia office has been quoted in saying "This is especially helpful during the annual audit – Bill.com has helped us reduce our discovery hours to provide a faster, cleaner and more cost-effective audit for our customers."

Tech-Savvy Benefits of Streamline Your Processes

24/7 Access – mobile like you: All of your business financial data synched in one place – Bill.com. Bill.com's web-based cloud application is accessible anytime, anywhere and simplifies CPAs' and their clients' business processes.

Improved workflow: Firms and their clients have experienced more efficient workflow processes and increased productivity, thanks to the automated simplicity of client bill pay.

Automating the bill payment and invoicing process: Bill.com also automates the entire bill payment process, saving staff and clients' time and reducing errors. Clients don't have to write and print and mail checks anymore. They can pay all their bills electronically. Firms can manage the whole process (from entering and coding the bills, to scheduling and approving the bills for payment and synchronizing the data into their accounting package). There's nothing clients have to do, unless they want to.

Increasing the firm's profitability: Using Bill.com extends a firm's bottom line as well. The solution helps automate routine tasks and allows firm staff to focus on higher-value/billable work. As new clients are added, staff have less to do thanks to Bill.com. As firms continue to grow, firms are able to do more with less staff.

Security: Introducing a new technology to clients can lead to many questions. One is data security. Bill.com is more secure than checks on a desk and checks having to go through the U.S. Mail. Bill.com uses bank-level encryption and undergoes an annual SAS 70 Type II Audit to ensure your data is safe and secure.

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