Harvey Wallace played a key role in founding Brown Smith Wallace LLC in 1972 and is the managing member of the firm. He helps privately held client companies in the manufacturing, distribution and services industries plan for growth and improve profitability.
Q. What can an accounting firm do to help its business clients come out of the recession in sound financial condition?
Planning and budgeting are key. They really need their professional advisers to take the lead and help them work on the financial aspects of their business. In the last two years, we’ve helped many clients look at where to invest, which capital investments make sense and where they should cut back or divest. A good accountant can help you stay on top of credit collections, so you are not surprised by a Chapter 11 filing when you think you have a solid asset on the books.
Q. If businesses are in the market to change their accounting firm, would now be a good time to do so?
If you feel the relationship isn’t what it should be, there’s never a bad time. They may believe the relationship is providing all the services they need, but it’s partly because they don’t have a true understanding about how a firm could help them manage all the challenges they have. Even if you are uncertain you want to make a change, talk to a few firms, especially if you’re dealing with a small firm. A firm like that is occupied with audits, accounting and taxes as opposed to consulting and advisory services. Go out and interview some considerably larger firms just to get a better understanding of the types of things they can provide.
Q. How often should businesses talk with their accountant or their accounting firm?
Each situation is unique, but it has to be 50-50. We want to be ahead of the curve as far as clients are concerned when it comes to initiating meetings or conversations. So many clients are busy working in businesses, rather than on businesses. If a client is calling their adviser and almost all the calls are one way, the client will realize their adviser is not being an advocate for them.