Talent Migration: Attract and Retain Skilled Finance & Accounting Talent

Attracting and retaining talent remains a huge challenge for businesses as the nation begins to emerge from the upheaval of the pandemic. According to the 21st edition of the EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer, six out of 10 middle-market companies say they face difficulty when it comes to finding and keeping skilled employees.

“The much-mooted threat to jobs from technology is not playing out as many had predicted,” states the EY report. “Indeed, as more jobs are automated in routine tasks, companies are finding it more difficult to attract and retain talent with the right technical and digital skills to benefit from these efficiencies.”

Pervasive Throughout All Industries

Talent acquisition and retention is the top concern among business leaders in 2022, according to a survey conducted by Protiviti and NC State University. “Most if not all of the organizations that we’re speaking with are struggling with things like attracting, retention, engagement, upskilling,” Protiviti Managing Director Fran Maxwell said during a recent webcast. “It’s pervasive throughout all industries, throughout all organizations now.”

Some employers are trying to attract and retain talent by boosting compensation. In November, hourly private sector wages rose 4.8%, according to the Department of Labor. And companies have budgeted 3.9% wage increases for this year, which is the biggest bump since 2008, according to the Conference Board. Unfortunately, these increases aren’t keeping pace with soaring inflation, which reached 7.9% in February, a four-decade high.

However, Maxwell notes that raising pay isn’t the only way to attract and retain talent. He recommends that businesses also make efforts to improve the employee experience — for example, by offering flexible or hybrid work arrangements, access to learning and development programs and creating a work atmosphere of well-being.

“Organizations that will win the talent war will focus on differentiating an employee experience, making it different for each employee,” said Maxwell.

Competing with Big Businesses for Talent

Large corporations have historically held the edge when it comes to brand marketing and employee recruiting. In the current environment, however, some middle-market firms are finding that they can compete with their bigger brethren by positioning themselves as an attractive alternative to large organizations.

One way to do this is to focus on the “power of purpose.” In the 2019 Mission and Culture Survey conducted by Glassdoor, eight out of 10 respondents said they consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying for a job there.

Purpose answers the questions: Why does your company do what you do? And for whom do you seek to create value? It’s often easier for middle-market companies to clearly articulate their purpose to employees and live it out authentically than it is for large corporations. Doing so

enhances the employer value proposition for employees, including highly skilled candidates looking for the right employer.

Another way middle-market companies are successfully competing for talent against large corporations is by offering employees accelerated career advancement opportunities. These companies often have more flexibility when it comes to things like giving employees earlier and more frequent client interaction, greater job responsibility and autonomy, more supervisory responsibility, and participation in strategic decision making.

More Middle-Market Advantages

With their agility, middle-market companies can also usually create flatter management structures. These tend to give employees more opportunities to interact with upper managers and move more freely between management layers throughout the company.

Embracing technology and creating a culture of innovation is yet another strategy middle-market companies can adopt to attract and retain talent. Large organizations are often slow to adopt the latest and greatest technologies, but nimble middle-market companies can usually implement technology and innovation more easily.

In the EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer survey, half of the respondents said they are leveraging technology and automation to improve workforce productivity. After watching so many innovation-driven startups quickly transform themselves into some of the world’s most valuable companies, many talented young employees now view organizations like this as attractive places to advance their careers.

Finance as a Service, or FaaS, can be a solution to finance department staffing challenges faced by many middle-market companies today. With FaaS, finance and accounting software and technology is managed by a third-party service provider. This includes recruiting, hiring, training, retaining and developing all finance and accounting team members. FaaS is a fully managed solution which gives executives more time to focus on strategic planning, analysis and forward-looking initiatives.

Questions to Ask

As you consider how your company can scale and compete successfully with large corporations for the best and brightest employees, ask yourself whether you’re really thinking about the mindset of the employees you want to attract. Also, do you know what factors give you a hiring edge over large organizations and are you capitalizing on them?

And perhaps most importantly, are you creating an exciting, dynamic corporate culture that embraces technology and innovation? These are the kinds of organizations most of the high-demand young employees today are looking for.

Could You Benefit from FaaS?

Could you be leveraging a third-party service provider to handle hiring and retention of your finance and accounting staff for you? Doing so could reduce the amount of time and resources you spend on tasks that take your focus away from growing the business.

To discuss the potential benefits of FaaS for your business in more detail, please request your complimentary consultation here.

Why Focusing Early on Due Diligence and Audit Preparedness is Critical to a Successful Exit

Owners and CEOs often don’t think about due diligence and audit preparedness during the early stages of the business startup. But maybe they should.

Research has indicated that between 90% and 95% of companies that receive seed funding don’t achieve a successful exit. This raises the question: What’s the difference between seed companies that achieve a successful exit — whether this is going public or some other type of exit — and those that don’t?

Of course, one of the biggest factors is achieving the right product-market fit. But another factor that isn’t talked about as much is an early focus and emphasis on due diligence and audit preparedness, especially as the company moves through the various stages of capital fundraising.

Growth Stages and Funding Milestones

Following are some of the key steps that should be taken from a due diligence and audit preparedness standpoint for each major growth stage and funding milestone. Note that there is more complexity at each milestone, requiring greater sophistication on the part of the financial management team.

Pre-seed to Seed:

• Build your financial system and organize financial files

• Implement financial controls

• Set up collections processes to maximize efficiency

Fundraising Series A:

• Financial modeling and long-range planning

• Fundraising project plan and investor presentation

• Series A fundraising overview, current trends and term sheets

Fundraising Series B:

• Financial metrics, benchmarking and data analytics

• Annual financial planning/forecasting and cash flow management

• Board financial reporting packages

• GAAP accounting and revenue recognition

Fundraising Series C:

• Financial guidance for strategic decisions

• Merger and acquisition assistance (if needed)

• Board/investor presentations

• Potential international expansion

“The key is to maintain funding readiness throughout each of these stages,” says Jason Burke with Consero. “This should always be top of mind for seed companies. For example, make sure compliance is up to date, financial records are maintained and documentation is prepared so when opportunity arises, you’re ready to take advantage of it,” he notes. 

Get Started Early

Jason stresses that due diligence and audit preparedness should begin on day one of the startup. “It’s never too early to get started,” he says. “You’re going to need a lot of supporting information to back the numbers in your financial statements.”

He lists the following due diligence and audit preparedness steps:

• Gather formation documents such as articles of incorporation, bylaws and shareholder agreements.

• Identify and build relationships with professional service providers including a CPA, banker, attorney, insurance broker and industry-specific consultants.

ª Gather such information as internal control narratives and a summary of related party transactions.

• Prepare revenue and gross profit projections by product offering.

• Obtain audited financial statements for the last two years, or three years for a public company buyer.

• Consult with an audit firm about complex accounting requirements.

“It’s important to maintain your own financial documents and not rely on your CPA firm for this,” says Jason. “If you switch firms, important data that substantiates a tax position could be lost.”

Jason also stresses the importance of keeping financial statements in good order and maintaining adequate internal controls at all times. “Failure to do so can lead to numerous problems when it’s time to exit the business, not to mention higher taxes,” he says.

Your Finance and Accounting Team

Building a strong finance and accounting team is critical to proper due diligence and audit preparedness. This can be done internally or on an outsourced basis, which tends to be more common among seed startups.

Consero can help you build the finance and accounting team you need to assure adequate due diligence and audit preparedness. Contact us today and schedule a complimentary consultation. 

How to Manage Your Board Relations More Effectively

As a CFO, your corporate board of directors is one of your most important constituencies. Therefore, it’s critical to manage board relations carefully and strategically and to make sure that you and your CEO are aligned on your approach and your respective roles.

This starts with understanding the unique interests of each of the individual members, knowing their data needs, and determining who should be communicating with which board member and on what cadence, says Consero’s CFO and COO, Mike Dansby. “This will enable board members to most effectively support and govern the company,” says Dansby. “And it will lessen the chance that there are unmet board member expectations on the part of your company.”

The Makeup of Your Board

Managing board relations effectively starts with achieving the right makeup for your board. In smaller organizations, the board might consist of just investors and the founders. But as businesses grow, the makeup of their board should evolve as well.  For instance, “independent” board members may be added to bring specific industry, product or functional expertise to the board.  Additionally, with growth the board will evolve and form committees.  Quite often, someone with deep financial expertise is added to chair the audit committee.

Over time, conflicts can sometimes arise based on how the board makeup is structured. Consider a venture capital-backed business with both early- and late-stage investors. The early-stage investors might not be as patient as time passes and might prefer a quick sale to generate liquidity whereas late-stage investors may be more willing to take a long-term view of the business.

“I have seen this scenario play out many times,” says Dansby. “It can be avoided by carefully managing the makeup of your board to achieve a balanced representation of shareholders, management and independent directors. Also, the company should pay close attention to the voting rights and preferences given to each series of shareholder to understand if decision making is balanced or loaded in favor of a particular shareholder class.”

Communicating with Your Board

Another key to effective board relations is knowing how to communicate with board members in the language they want to hear. For example, a business that’s backed by venture capitalists most often operates at a loss. In this scenario, the VC board members will be primarily interested in the progress of bookings growth and how to use cash flow to help drive growth, not in things like marketing and expense management. 

“There’s no need to go over a detailed P&L statement with them or talk about expense reduction,” says Dansby. “Instead, spend your time with them focusing on sales, revenue and cash flow.”

On the other hand, a business that’s owned by private equity investors is probably more established. The PE board members will likely be most interested in ways to boost efficiency and cash flow in order to service debt, as well as adherence to loan covenants. If debt is minimal, they will probably be interested in expense management and what types of investments are needed to grow the business. 

“Private equity owners tend to demand more data and perhaps be more hands-on with the business,” says Dansby. “Sometimes this requires a little more patience on the part of CFOs.”

Organizing and Facilitating the Meeting

According to Dansby, it’s important to choose a consistent format and agenda for your board meetings so members know what to expect. “Have a consistent flow to your meetings and a consistent set of metrics so they have a similar experience and get the same view every time,” he says.

For example, you might get routine business matters out of the way up front, like approving stock options. Next, you could cover the executive summary and key strategic initiatives. Then you can spend the rest of the time focusing on the things that are important to your board members, as discussed above.

Dansby recommends preparing the board deck and distributing it to board members several days in advance so they can review it and be better prepared. Get consensus early on as to key metrics and analytics for the business and stick to those.  Relegate the GAAP financials to the appendix as most boards prefer to look at some version of an adjusted EBITDA analysis.

The hardest aspect of keeping board members up to speed might involve translating complex financial data into actionable insights. “Board members might be unfamiliar with financial concepts that CFOs analyze regularly and confused by accounting jargon,” says Dansby. “Therefore, it’s important to keep reports simple and make sure they’re timely, consistent and concise.”

The CFO’s Role in the Meeting

At times CFOs might feel like a stick in the mud when they have to follow the CEO at a board meeting. The CEO is the optimist who talks about big-picture strategy and headline numbers, and then the CFO has to explain what the numbers mean, how the company can achieve them, and perhaps a dose of reality to the discussion. 

“Sometimes CFOs even need to reign CEOs in a little bit,” says Dansby. “But a board meeting isn’t the right time or place for open disagreements or to challenge the CEO. Instead, be adaptable and explain to the board what assumptions need to be met for the company to achieve the CEO’s vision and goals.”

If you have more questions about managing your corporate board more effectively, request a complimentary consultation.

How FaaS Can Help You Win the War for Talent

The phrase “war for talent” was coined by McKinsey & Co. in the late 1990s to describe an environment where competition among employers for skilled workers was becoming more intense as the workforce began aging and employees exhibited less loyalty to the companies they worked for. 

This so-called war has only intensified since then. The demographic and societal trends that started more than two decades ago have continued with baby boomers starting to retire in droves and highly skilled employees hopping from job to job as new opportunities arise. COVID-19 has also played a large role in the upheaval of the workforce as both businesses and employees adjust to new ways of working due to the pandemic.

In fact, one out of every four employees say they plan to change jobs once the pandemic subsides, according to the Pulse of the American Worker Survey conducted last spring by Prudential. 

Challenges in Accounting and Finance

The war for talent can be even more intense in the finance and accounting industry. Highly skilled finance and accounting employees can often pick and choose from among the best jobs, which makes it hard for corporations and CFOs to build and maintain a stable finance and accounting staff.

The good news is that building such a staff isn’t always necessary anymore. Instead, businesses can utilize Finance as a Service, or FaaS, to meet their finance and accounting requirements. With FaaS, the finance and accounting back-office duties are outsourced to a third-party service provider. This relieves the CEO or CFO of the difficult, expensive and time-consuming job of hiring and retaining a full-time finance and accounting staff.

FaaS: A Comprehensive Approach to the Finance Function

Finance as a Service is sometimes confused with the services provided by outsourced accounting firms. However, FaaS offers a much more comprehensive approach to financial and accounting management than simple outsourced accounting, along with greater transparency and rigor.

First, FaaS provides a full suite of staff, services and software that’s capable of managing a corporation’s entire finance and accounting operations. This includes processing transactions and customer payments, paying vendors and producing monthly financials. In other words, FaaS is a one-stop financial and accounting services shop. 

FaaS also offers a single, self-serve software interface instead of multiple programs that corporations have to manage themselves. This interface should provide clarity and transparency with regard to financial and accounting information. With FaaS, knowledge isn’t concentrated with a single individual who is the only one who can access relevant financial and accounting data. Instead, this data can be easily accessed by anyone on the team when needed. With a single, self-service interface, more than one person can get that system to meet their needs on any given day.

In addition, FaaS features flexible and transparent pricing which makes it easy to forecast what costs will be as the company’s needs change in the future. Practically speaking, this means that a FaaS provider charges based on the service offered, not by the hour or based on the level of staff assigned to the client. This way, corporations know exactly what they’re paying for and how their costs will rise or fall as they scale up or down

Finally, FaaS offers access to skilled finance and accounting professionals who have the appropriate level of expertise for the corporation’s specific needs. While much of financial operations is fairly straightforward, sometimes corporations need a higher level of strategic thinking and expertise, like when performing acquisitions and onboarding new entities, for example. With FaaS, corporations only pay for this higher level of service when it’s needed. 

FaaS Service Brings Everything Together

In the end, Finance as a Service comes down to one word: service. This is what brings together the comprehensive offering, single self-serve interface, pricing transparency and customized level of expertise. A true FaaS provider will offer this kind of comprehensive approach to managing the finance and accounting function.

As a CEO, now would be a good time to think about how adopting Finance as a Service could help you win the war for talent. To discuss the potential benefits of FaaS for your business in more detail, please connect with us here

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How Consero helped BigCommerce grow from start-up to one of the year’s hottest IPOs

For the past nine years, BigCommerce relied on Consero’s Finance as a Service [FaaS] model and found that the tech-enabled service provider scaled up well with the company’s massive growth, allowing its CFO to focus on the strategic initiatives that took the enterprise from an early­ stage start-up to a massive public offering.

A Page From The CFO Playbook

Back in 2011, BigCommerce was very much a start-up, still running on its series A funding and essentially relying on QuickBooks to manage its finances. That year, they tapped Robert Alvarez as CFO, and he knew they needed to take a hard look at the systems, processes and people in the finance function in order to drive efficiencies and scale up the operations of the business.

Alvarez had worked with Consero on multiple occasions before and knew their Finance as a Service solution could streamline processes, automate back-office transactions and essentially upgrade the finance function in a turn-key fashion.

“By the time I joined BigCommerce, Consero was already part of my playbook, and I knew I needed them here, so I could focus on strategic priorities and the growth drivers of the business,” says Alvarez.

For the new CFO, Consero offered a managed solution with the right mix of digital systems, well­mapped processes and skilled finance & accounting talent. Within two weeks, the tech-enabled service provider had implemented and transferred the GL to Sage lntacct. Additionally, Consero was already working to streamline and automate as much as of the processes as possible. “We get a lot of leverage around the automated workflows and we’ve been paperless from the beginning, which streamlined many processes over the life of this partnership.”

Skilled Finance Talent & PreIntegrated Software Stack with Digital Processes and Workflows

But Consero’s contribution went beyond upgrading their technology and processing the back-office finance & accounting transactions. “We were able to take a huge part of the human capital burden off his desk,” says Chris Hartenstein, Managing Director with Consero. Alvarez didn’t have to fret about the recruiting, hiring and managing of the finance function, which only became more as the company grew over the next eight years. “My team didn’t need to worry as much about training anyone and getting them up to speed,” says Alvarez. “We just let Consero know what we needed and Consero stepped in to deliver it, which saved us plenty of time and recruiting cycles.”

With Consero managing the back-office and business continuity risks, Alvarez didn’t have to be concerned with losing key team members. “In smaller middle market companies, the loss of any member of the team means so much institutional knowledge walks out the door with them,” says Hartenstein. “But at Consero, we have any number of people to step in should someone leave. This ensures their business continuity is maintained.”

And even now, as BigCommerce operates as a public company, Consero is still an important piece of the company’s finance function. “There aren’t too many service providers that stayed with us from the time I started, and that speaks to the quality and reliability of Consero’s technology, systems and people,” says Alvarez.

In fact, the Consero team worked so closely with BigCommerce, that the company leveraged their expertise to help prep them for their IPO. Over the eight years, Consero’s worked so closely with Robert’s team, it was obvious they should leverage their skills for the IPO prep. “They had so much tribal knowledge, and such a grasp of all the previous transactions and systems,” says Alvarez .“So, the IPO readiness plan had several components prepared by them.” This was only possible by collaborating on a consistent and intimate basis.

There aren,t too many service providers that stayed with us from the time I started, and that speaks to the quality and reliability of Consero,s technology, systems and people. – Robert Alvarez (CFO – BigCommerce)

Company Culture That Fits

“When I suggest Consero to someone, I stress that they need to treat them as part of their in-house team, and not merely an outsourced provider.” Alvarez prides himself on watching Consero team members that serviced his account, mature and advance into leadership roles at Consero. But such a long-term engagement requires that Consero staff truly fit the culture over at Big Commerce.

Consero was in alignment with BigCommerce’s two bucket approach to hiring:

Bucket One: verifying a candidate had the given skill set, experience and competencies

Bucket Two: seeing they have the intangibles, the values and characteristics that would allow them to fit well with the culture and grow with the existing team

“Without fail, when we needed more support, Consero always finds the right solution for us,” says Alvarez.

Clean Data and Due Diligence Ready

With Consero tackling the finance function with the right people and technology in the early days, Alvarez was able to devote his time to the higher-level strategic initiatives at his company. “As a Saas business, we’re very metrics and data-driven, so while Consero helped with a lot of the day-to-day accounting, we were able to focus on building up our data warehouse, metrics reporting, and operational best practices across the company,” says Alvarez.

“At BigCommerce, we take real time to map out strategic goals and initiatives, and the reality is that many of the initiatives are owned by other functional areas, but we get pulled in early to play a part in virtually all of them,” says Alvarez. “By outsourcing pieces of the finance function to Consero early on, we were able to be that partner where every functional area can lean on my team for what they need.”

And over the past nine years, Big Commerce has raised growth equity from tier 1 investors like General Catalyst, Revolution, Softbank, GGV Capital and Goldman Sachs, all prior to its successful IPO and subsequent follow-on offering. The IPO was clearly a major initiative that required additional resources and rigor, yet Consero gave Alvarez a solid head start. “If we didn’t have accurate reporting, we would not be compliant or diligence ready in our private financing rounds or our IPO and secondary offering. We’ve been able to meet all of the diligence requests because of the transparency and accuracy in our finance function,” Alvarez noted.

Consero’s CEO, Scott Tynes explains: “So many of the controls we put in place as part of our onboarding are exactly the type of processes that private companies need to establish before going public, and so, BigCommerce had a great foundation to build upon in order to get public company ready.”

“So many of the controls we put in place as part of our onboarding are exactly the type of processes that private companies need to establish before going public, and so, BigCommerce had a great foundation to build upon in order to get public company ready.” – Scott Tynes (CEO-Consero)

This was already evident to Alvarez in the case of audits. “E& Y has been our auditor since I began, and they appreciated the controls, automation and transparency of the systems Consero helped put in place, which allows them to work faster as well,” says Alvarez.

Going Public

BigCommerce decided in June 2019 that they wanted to go public, eyeing an April 2020 date, but the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 pushed the offering to August. Even with the delay, its IPO stands as one of the most successful of the year, quadrupling in value by its second day of trading, and maintaining a large share of that leap to this day.

After the IPO, Consero is still servicing BigCommerce, without missing a beat. The only difference being the company expanded their inhouse team to address public company requirements in areas such as compliance, external reporting, investor relations and governance. But Consero still provides the same underlying software and accounting support to the company as they always have. That is why Hartenstein stresses that clients don’t outgrow Consero, as BigCommerce leveraged them when they had revenue of $10 million and now, when they’re bringing in well over ten times that.

One of the mixed blessings of that kind of performance is that it accelerated the company’s deadline to become SOX compliant. “That’s one of my team’s next big projects, with the idea that we’d be ready by Q3 of 2021, so we’ll only need to test it in Q4, with time to spare before our deadline of December 31st,” says Alvarez. Of course, Consero will be aiding in this initiative as well.

Given the trajectory of BigCommerce, Alvarez remains convinced of the value Consero brings. “My advice is to anyone considering hiring them, is first, this is not about outsourcing,” says Alvarez. “It’s about finding a Finance as a Service partner that can bring technology, process automation and a back-end workflow that’s been proven for years. Why build everything from scratch when there’s someone with a checklist, and the experience to build something that can grow with you? That’s why Consero has been part of my playbook and why I’m so proud of everyone on the Consero team who has leaned in so much to help get us to this point.”

 

 

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CFO finds fast and flexible solution with repeatable processes to easily handle acquisitions

The Situation

PE-backed SaaS company generating $48M in revenue with 300 employees quickly outgrew finance and accounting systems after three acquisitions. The goal was to have one streamlined process to quickly onboard and manage all entities.

  • Finance function was stretched after initial acquisitions
  • Internal processes could not scale as the company grew
  • No holistic visibility into all entities
  • CFO was buried with time-consuming daily financial operations

The Consero Solution

Consero Finance as a Service (FaaS) provides:

  • Efficient finance & accounting software and workflows that include one GL for all entities with multidimensional views
  • Experienced and on-demand finance team to address fluctuating needs
  • Accurate, timely audit-ready financial reporting
  • Consistent and reliable back-office services including, transaction processing, closing and reporting, to scale as needed

“The relationship with Consero has allowed me to move quickly with our private equity investors and evaluate potential acquisitions.
If we were to swiftly execute on an opportunity, I’m confident that they would fold it in quickly and seamlessly.” – Mike Dionne (CFO)

The Client’s Results

  • On-Demand Finance Team: Consero’s skilled finance professionals tackle the back-office transactional work and can also scale as the company experiences a spike.
  • New Systems: Updated with best-in-breed systems and proven processes mapped to the business within 30-90 days improves the quality, efficiency, and cost structure of financial operations.
  • Accurate and Real-Time Business Insight: SIMPL’s standardized and accurate financial reporting provides a clear financial picture of all entities and enables sharp decision making.
  • Repeatable Results: An acquisition-ready finance function that can easily onboard and manage new acquisitions onto one General Ledger.
  • Time for Strategy: CFO went from spending 5% of his time on strategy to 95% so he could focus on acquisitions and value-add initiatives.
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Consero helped PE-backed software firm get clean, accurate, audit-ready financials, and streamlined processes

Five Elms Capital’s portfolio company Flywheel was faced with the common dilemma of having accounting practices that didn’t keep up with the company’s growth but took a chance on Consero as an outsourced financial solution. This is what happened next.

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Consero in Action: Flywheel

There was little doubt that Flywheel was a valuable business. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company was a leader in its space of managed WP hosting, having grown to $18 million in revenue and roughly 145 employees. But when Steve Isom arrived at Flywheel as the Company’s first VP of Finance, he found Flywheel’s accounting processes hadn’t evolved since its founding.

“Their accounting department was one person,” says Isom. “And everything was on QuickBooks® . . . for a business with almost 150 people.”

This one person also did payroll and benefits manually, which yielded an enormous amount of variance. To make matters worse, this person had resigned before Isom had started the job, so he was left with a single temp employee who was tapped to keep vendors and employees paid.

Move Fast . . . And Fix Things

“I was overwhelmed from day one, and the stakes couldn’t be higher for me,” says Isom. “This was the first time I’d be owning all the finance & accounting and I didn’t want to spend the first year just on getting the accounting function in order.”

He had started by looking for local talent, ideally a local controller with some experience at a tech enterprise, but Omaha didn’t have a deep pool of candidates. Even if he found the ideal person, it would take 6-12 months to onboard, train, research & architect new systems, implement, optimize, etc.

“The quality of the underlying financials ensures a smooth due diligence process. With Consero, I could focus on the transaction and not worry about getting financials in order. Their professional finance team and processes inspire confidence for everyone involved in due diligence.” Steve Isom – VP of Finance

The Proof is in the Process

“I did my due diligence, and after speaking with several current clients of Consero, I was sold,” says Isom. “Consero’s clients seem genuinely happy and not merely giving some standard issue referral.” But that was still no guarantee that Consero would work as well for Flywheel.

Luckily, he was relieved to find the onboarding process was smooth and well-run.

“I appreciated how informed and determined they were about best practices, when a lot of outsourced service providers simply offer to take over a client’s poorly designed, or non-existent process,” says Isom.

But the speed of the implementation process impressed Isom the most. “Their implementation is a 30- to 60- day process and we finished it in 21,” says Isom. Before, he worked day and night to get his work done. He joined in August, and by October, Consero’s team was in place, running the accounting and finance team. “By then, I was only devoting 30 minutes or so a day on accounting, and that freed me up for the strategic work I was hired to do.” Consero continued to impress him by asking questions once, documenting answers and holding themselves to consistently high standards.

Audit-tested

The first big test was when Consero managed a 2018 audit, despite only having handled the books since October.

“They passed with flying colors, so we knew just how detailed and accurate their work was from day one” says Isom.

By April 2019, the Company was raising additional capital, and the diligence process proved just how much the financial operations had improved.

“Consero handled all the investors’ inquiries as part of the normal course of business, without additional hours and fees, and always responded to questions within 24 hours,” says Isom.

Soon after, WP Engine, the market leading managed WP hosting company, made an unsolicited bid for Flywheel. After the two companies agreed on strategic alignment and a possible price, they dug into the books.

WP Engine tapped one of the big four accounting firms to sign off on the tax, finance and legal elements, and all that diligence work went right to Consero. “This wasn’t just about workload,” says Isom. “We were able to tell a story that we had known our systems and processes weren’t sufficient and we did something about it.”

Keeping Trusted Partners

Consero still serves Flywheel, even as the company is now part of WP Engine, which has its own substantial financial staff and resources.

“They understood that Consero was part of our team, my team, and that we were working well together,” says Isom. “And in this case, I don’t have to handle the HR or career development issues of in-house staff.”

Five Elms Capital was certainly impressed with the results, as they tapped Consero for three of their other portfolio companies since the success at Flywheel. Five Elms adds value to their portfolio companies by providing the resources and expertise to fulfill their potential. They have identified Consero as one of those critical resources, given the importance of clean, accurate, audit-ready financials, and a streamlined process. Consero frees the businesses up to do what they do best.