One of our goals at James Hamlin & Co. P.C. is to bridge the gap between the help that big companies receive from their CFOs to what small business owners need to thrive and can afford.
As president of James Hamlin & Co. P.C., I truly believe in the importance of having someone you can turn to. Every business owner needs that. I invite you to take a closer look at our outsourced CFO approach, and our philosophy for “having the back” of every one of our clients.
Story behind the mission
Large companies often have large advantages over small businesses when it comes to professional management and advice. Large companies employ a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and other advisors who understand how to best structure their companies, manage their cash flow, and minimize their taxes. Think about the advantageous tax and cash flow management Apple has employed. The work that the CFO and advisors do allows the President and/or CEO to focus on operational issues and sales. For small business owners, the problem with CFOs and advisors is the payroll cost. Large companies can afford to pay upwards of $150,000, or more, for a decent CFO.
Most small business owners learn their craft, trade and profession “on the job.” In other words, they learned from working in the business. As their business grows, they learn that unless they work on their business as well, their businesses will starve. (See Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth) In most small businesses, the owner is the CEO, CFO, HR chief, sales team, and custodian. Most small business owners don’t know how to minimize their taxes and best structure their companies. Many don’t handle cash flow well either.
In order for our firm to be profitable, we need profitable and stable clients. Importantly, our clients have to know and feel that we “have their back.”
The bridge stands on several pillars integral to our Vision:
- ATTENTIVENESS: We visit with our clients regularly so we understand their businesses and personal goals. Only with a good understanding can we give good advice.
- LEADERSHIP: Lead the client in developing and sustaining smart accounting records and procedures that will yield accurate financial statements.
- LEARNEDNESS: Regular internal (and client!) training to maintain and enhance our level of knowledge in business, taxes, and accounting.
- SUPPORT: Maintain a great circle of professional contacts needed to support and help clients when we are not in our area of expertise.
- BETTERMENT: Constantly improve our internal systems and procedures so that we will continue to handle compliance matters (financials, tax returns, notices) more efficiently than our competitors.
As the onslaught of compliance matters continues to escalate ever higher, most accounting firms have to limit their service to financial statements and taxes. The compliance matters, and the training needed to attend to those matters, can be so time consuming and complex, that most accounting firms today simply don’t have the time to discuss your business or (help you set) goals.
We have always seen good advice as the foundation of our relationships. Therefore, we set aside time for you. With this in mind, we have fashioned our operations so that we can prepare your financial statements more efficiently than our competitors. This advantage gives us the opportunity to provide our clients with good advice, which is rooted in attention, all for a reasonable monthly fee.
Businesses that lack adequate and competent accounting records are at a great disadvantage in obtaining “the right advice.” Without the bedrock of financial statements, it is next to impossible to know if they are “afoot or on horseback.” This is a common occurrence among new clients, and it is corrected by putting the proper procedures in place.
Like a CFO, our accountants will help you analyze your financial statements beyond simple, “You made or lost money this month” comparisons. Our interpretation of the numbers enables our clients to know what they did, why they did it and where they need to spend their time making adjustments. Plus, we take things even further by extrapolating the numbers…enabling our clients to lead their businesses in the most profitable direction.
We see this function as the distinction between leadership and management. It can be the difference between working hard and working smart.
Like a CFO, we build a dialogue with our clients that goes beyond profit or loss statements. And very often, we are called upon to be involved with a wide array of problems including tax, banking, attorney, insurance, actuarial, matrimonial and other relationships.
As an extension of our approach, we do not charge our clients every time they pick up the phone. We always remind them, “Don’t hesitate to call… that’s what we’re here for. As soon as you have a question, we’ll have the answer. If we don’t, we’ll suggest how to get that answer.”
All of our professionals are required to spend at least one week per year enhancing his or her professional skills. As a practical matter, we spend much more than that. As a group, we are taking courses or programs in everything from accounting to auditing, computer sciences to statistics and probability, business law and management to employee benefits and administrative practices and payroll. This does not make each individual an expert in all these subjects, but it allows us to spot problems and opportunities.
We also believe that a better educated client is simply a better client. Knowledge is power. If that means connecting you with a labor lawyer, we will do that. If that means going over the general rules of the R&D tax credit, and how that credit could save you money, we will do that. This is your business and your financial livelihood. You can delegate the handling of certain technical matters to us but you cannot, however, hand over the responsibility to us of making sound decisions for you. We are partners in these matters. In order for us to help you, you have to have some understanding of variables. If you don’t have that understanding, we will help you get there.
We maintain a wonderful circle of professional contacts in bankers, all sorts of attorneys, HR providers, financial advisors, computer software and hardware providers, website developers, marketing and advertising experts, insurance agents, security experts, commercial and home real estate agents, and business valuation experts. With these contacts, and your money, no amount of professional help is beyond our reach or yours.
Not all of our clients, or prospective clients, spent much time thinking about the best accounting systems and procedures before they implemented them. We have spent a great deal of time thinking about the best ways to handle these compliance matters. To deliver a package that includes the financial fundamentals and sound advice at an affordable price for the business owner, we have developed and continually tweak our way of getting information from our clients and delivering financials and tax returns in return.
All that said, as the business and regulatory environment changes, we discover better ways of doing things, we change and broaden our systems and procedures. Those systems and procedures must then be communicated to our clients, because we live in these systems and procedures together.