Finance-as-a-Service: What It Is & How to Offer It to Clients
Perhaps you’re considering adding Finance-as-a-Service (FaaS) to your offerings but don’t know how to get started.
In that case, this article will provide a roadmap for understanding the service, how to wrap it into your existing portfolio, and how to market it.
What is Finance-as-a-Service?
Before you can start selling FaaS to your clients, you need to fully understand what it means and what offerings can be included. Though FaaS offerings include some traditional accounting and bookkeeping services, the overall package will be more robust than standard outsourced accounting.
Specific functions are outsourced to a bookkeeper or accountant in traditional bookkeeping and accounting services. These services typically include recording transactions, monthly reconciliations, and financial statement preparation. Broader offerings might include payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable support. Property tax and sales tax filing may also be included.
FaaS involves offering a more comprehensive package. It includes the traditional bookkeeping and accounting services noted above, but it also includes regular meetings with C-level executives, forecasting, and budgeting. Firms that offer FaaS act as fractional CFOs and accounting departments for their clients.
There are numerous benefits for your clients when using your financial services. You can expand your role in their company to fit their needs as their business grows. They benefit from not needing to hire a full-time CFO or accounting team, which saves them the time and cost involved with bringing the services in-house or outsourcing them to an unknown vendor. This can be especially appealing to startups, as the onboarding time for new clients for your firm will also be much shorter than creating an in-house accounting team.
Examples of Finance-as-a-Service Offerings
Real-Time Insight into Financial Data
As an outsourced accounting department, your team has comprehensive knowledge of your client’s operations and financial situation. Because of this insight, your team is ready with an answer about variations in cash flow or upcoming outlays. Your finance team can provide quick responses to questions posed by business owners and executives.
Traditional accounting services mainly focus on the after-the-fact processing of data. However, as a team with an intimate knowledge of your clients’ operations, you can assist with budgeting and financial planning for the upcoming year. You can also monitor budget variations throughout the year and provide comprehensive reporting for your clients.
FaaS firms provide services usually reserved for CFOs and accounting departments. Services include fielding questions about the financial feasibility of upcoming projects and whether the firm has sufficient cash flow for its operations.
Meetings With Investors
In addition to the firm’s operations, a FaaS firm will usually meet with outside investors and financial institutions. The lead team member will be responsible for fielding questions and, along with the company’s internal team, responding to inquiries.
How to Start Offering Finance-as-a-Service to Your Clients
Evaluate The Services You Already Provide
Suppose you have taken over most of the traditional accounting services for your client, and they’re regularly calling you for advice on various financial matters. In that case, you may be on the cusp of a FaaS offering. Start by looking at your current offerings and whether your team has the ability and availability to move into more of an advisory role alongside your current accounting functions.
Assess Their Current Needs
Most small businesses need minimal help with bookkeeping and accounting-related tasks. At most, once-a-month meetings are sufficient. However, as a firm grows to a medium-size business with expanding revenue and complexity, they’ll need additional assistance with financial services.
Regular discussions with growing clients can help you figure out their needs and where your firm can be of assistance. Proactively reaching out to existing clients can set you up to be in the right place at the right time to offer to fill those gaps.
Broach the Topic
This is one of those “it never hurts to ask” situations. Through your regular discussions with your clients, you can ask whether they want to outsource more of their accounting or are considering bringing in a full-time in-house staff member. If they’re considering a direct-hire, you can point out the economies of scale your team can bring to your client.
With your existing clients, you have already proven your reliability, built a level of trust, and have a solid understanding of their business and accounting needs.
Advertise Your FaaS Services
Branding is important in FaaS. While you might have existing information about your accounting and bookkeeping services on your website, it’s essential to rebrand yourself as a fractional CFO or completely outsourced accounting team. This lets new clients understand the role you will be playing in their business and sets you up to be an integral part of their team.
Create a Proposal
Scope creep is a real risk in FaaS. You need to have a well-written proposal which clearly outlines which services you will provide for your client or how much time is included in your monthly fee. As your clients’ businesses grow, you’ll often find the time needed to properly service their expanding business. By having a clear understanding from the beginning, you’ll avoid any disagreements later and be in a better position for future price negotiations.
Have the Client Sign an Engagement Letter
Like the proposal, it’s important to have an engagement letter signed by both parties that agree on services and pricing for your FaaS functions. The engagement letter should also include how often your agreement will be reevaluated to ensure it is still appropriate for all parties.
When offering FaaS functions, the most crucial part of your offering is responsiveness. While you might not always get a response from your CPA or bookkeeper right away, you will expect a response promptly if you need to get a hold of your accounting team. This might involve being included on your clients’ Slack or Teams. It’s nice to have updated financial statements at the end of the month, but it’s essential to know if there is money in the bank for payroll on Friday.
While your clients understand they’re not your only client, they won’t want to wait for days for answers. Make sure you monitor your team’s workloads and availability to ensure you are providing high-quality services to your clients.
Managing Workflow in a FaaS Firm
If you’re considering adding FaaS to your firm’s offerings, it’s essential to stay on top of your tasks and ensure all projects are completed in a timely manner. How do you do this when you’re juggling the responsibilities of several companies?
You need to standardize your workflows and ensure you have a comprehensive firm management system in place. Jetpack Workflow was built with accounting firms in mind and comes with predefined workflows for many accounting tasks. It also provides the flexibility to create customized workflows for your firm’s unique offerings. Start a free 14-day trial today to see how Jetpack Workflow can help your team stay organized and more productive than ever.