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Keeping an eye on credit risk

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. banks have been posting strong profitability, and credit quality remains sound thus far in 2018. In fact, regulators have noted as much in both the FDIC’s third-quarter banking profile and the OCC National Risk Committee’s semiannual report on risks issued recently. Despite the positive trends, these same regulators expressed…...

Making small business loans profitable

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

At the risk of stating the obvious, bankers are generally good with numbers. So it makes sense that lenders and financial institutions are more enthusiastic about making the larger business loans than making the smaller loans. After all, it takes as much time to process a small loan as a…...

Small businesses want advice; is your bank offering it?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Community bankers establish close relationships with many of their borrowers and in fact, it is these relationships that many community banks tout as one way they are superior to their larger rivals. When it comes to small business customers, however, community banks have untapped opportunities to deepen relationships beyond the…...

Sageworks wraps up successful 2018 User Groups sessions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Interactive industry discussions, networking among peers and best practices for maximizing value from Sageworks solutions were some of the benefits to attendees of the Sageworks User Groups in 2018. Sageworks hosted seven User Groups throughout the year and will soon be unveiling the locations and dates for five 2019 User…...

Sageworks’ LeCorgne shines at BAI Beacon

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Financial institutions can profitably reclaim their small business lending market by using technology to add speed and efficiency to the lending process, Sageworks Vice President of Banking Neill LeCorgne told banking industry leaders during the BAI Beacon Conference in Orlando, Fla., recently. LeCorgne, the former president and director of a…...

Survey: Most banks are collecting, analyzing CECL data

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
data for bankers

Community bankers in the throes of implementing the current expected credit loss model, or CECL, are generally collecting and analyzing data at this point in the process, according to a new survey on banks' CECL status. Learn more about navigating the CECL transition. Request More Information » In the 2018…...

What banks can learn from what business borrowers dislike about online lenders

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
applying-online-laptop-benchmark-accounting-unsplash

As bankers know, online and “alternative” lenders are a small but growing group of players in the business lending market. Small business loans represented about $7.4 billion of originations from alternative lenders in 2016, according to data from Morgan Stanley’s Alternative Lending Group and the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.…...

4 ways to help investors understand the CECL transition: Disclosure tips

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filers prepare to meet the deadline to implement the FASB’s current expected credit loss model, or CECL, for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 1, 2019, SEC registrants are weighing what CECL transition disclosures to provide about the new standard and its expected impact. Some…...

Banks tap technology to challenge fintechs in online lending

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. Bank this week rolled out an online small business loan platform aimed at helping it compete with fintech giants like OnDeck, which announced this month it had surpassed $10 billion in total loans originated to small businesses since its 2007 start. It’s one of hundreds of banks across the…...

3 Benefits of automating loan decisions 

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
handshake-deal-loans

A bank or credit union in South Florida obviously has different real estate market considerations than one in Seattle. Similarly, every financial institution has a unique business plan and its own appetite for risk. That’s why many financial institutions aren’t interested in an off-the-shelf solution for automating their lending processes,…...

What is change management and its impact on financial software implementation?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The term “change management” is a popular one these days, though it may sound like consulting jargon. It is an important concept for any financial institution considering implementing financial software – whether it’s software to book the right loans at the right prices more quickly, manage lending relationships and the…...

CEO webinar series: 15-Minute briefings on automating the lending process

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Community bank CEOs are keenly mindful that technology could help their lending businesses. Indeed, CEOs named lending most often when asked what parts of their banks’ business would benefit from automation, according to a recent American Bankers Association’s research survey. CEOs understand technology can mean faster, better customer service and…...

Want more banking business? Be a resource

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Many banks boast about their relationship managers as key to their business banking, but Jack Hubbard thinks the most effective bankers today have learned to become resource managers. What exactly are resource managers? Resource managers are bankers that move beyond the role of relationship manager in order to provide value…...

Gartner analyst: Technology plans require focus on outcomes

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

What will your bank or credit union look like in 15 or 20 years? Will there be tellers or even branches? What new products or services will be offered? Which services or products will become obsolete? These are common questions among financial institution executives, and the answers are critical for…...

What is digital lending and how can community banks, credit unions benefit?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Digital lending is the use of online technology to originate and renew loans in order to deliver faster and more efficient decisions. Many people know of non-bank digital lenders like Rocket Mortgage and Kabbage that market directly to consumers and businesses, but digital lending also encompasses activities of traditional financial…...

Transform your bank’s ALCO from a cost center to a profit center

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Are lenders and retail bankers lining up to join your financial institution’s asset liability committee (ALCO)? If the idea seems preposterous, it could be that your ALCO could benefit from a new approach, according to Matt Pieniazek, president of Darling Consulting Group. Pieniazek, who will lead the session “How Effective…...

Why credit risk rating systems matter

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Low market rates and intense competition have been hallmarks of the lending environment in recent years, and regulators have taken notice that this can lead to weaker discipline around pricing and structuring of loans. Indeed, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in its…...

How community banks can level the business-lending playing field

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

For a perfect example of how technology has the potential to level the playing field between large, national banks and community banks when it comes to business loans, look at First National Bank of Layton in Layton, Utah. The 7-branch, 113-year-old bank with about $320 million in assets shares a…...

CECL transition workshops: Hands-on practice for upcoming ALLL changes

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
cecl transition workshop

Training for the current expected credit loss model, or CECL, is available for bankers and others preparing for the transition to the FASB’s updated accounting standard. Given the nature and complexity of the CECL model and the variable nature of financial institutions’ loan portfolios and potential losses, implementation will vary…...

Sageworks’ Martin: A better borrower experience is worth offering

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Banking leaders can look at the apps available in their own everyday lives to understand how small business and middle market borrowers’ expectations for speed, convenience and transparency have been shaped, according to Sageworks Vice President Steven Martin. Sageworks VP Steven Martin speaking at the Barlow…...

Survey: Long waits and difficult applications aggravate small business borrowers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The good news for banks and credit unions? Small-business borrower satisfaction is higher for these lenders than for online lenders, according to a new Small Business Credit Survey by the Federal Reserve. The not-so-good news? Satisfaction with online lenders has increased over the last two years, even as net satisfaction…...

Human touch + high tech = business lending growth

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Even though mobile apps and online services are the norm in most people’s everyday lives, research shows that when it comes to borrowing, business owners still value personal service and existing relationships, too. About 90 percent of small business owners in a 2016 Aite Group survey said familiarity or previous…...

How are your peers preparing for CECL?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As financial institutions lay the groundwork for transitioning to the current expected credit loss model, or CECL, many are curious about how peers are preparing for CECL and where they are in tackling what’s considered the biggest accounting change in banking history. After all, the FASB’s guidance on CECL is…...

How regulation and technology will shape the future of community banking

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Community banks will always meet a need for local decision-making and person-to-person service, but they must see relief from disproportionate regulatory burdens and must leverage technology for innovation if they are to thrive long term. That’s the gist of comments made by several industry leaders, including former FDIC Vice Chairman…...

Technology can help community banks tap into the “Buy Local” movement

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Everywhere you look, various industries are tapping into the “Buy Local” movement. Local retailers now get a boost from Small Business Saturday campaigns for holiday shopping the day after Black Friday each year. Restaurants have made “farm to table” a popular trend by using locally grown ingredients. Craft beer brewers…...

How to fix the 3 biggest problems with small business lending

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Is growing the small business loan portfolio on your bank or credit union’s agenda? If so, you’re not alone. A recent survey by the American Bankers Association found that 61 percent of banks surveyed plan to moderately or aggressively grow their small business lending (loans between $3 million and $100 million)…...

Boost lending without adding staff: Sageworks client featured in American Banker

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Sageworks client Millennium Bank in Ooltewah, Tenn., was featured recently in American Banker for its use of technology to increase lending without hiring more lenders. “Many small banks that lack the resources to hire more lenders have made similar investments in recent years in an effort to compete with not…...

Managing the bank with a forward view

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Dealing with the day-to-day challenges of operating a community bank can keep top management “in the weeds” of lending or credit operations. This can leave little to no time for surveying the entire “field” of the portfolio, its risks and its impact on the institution’s financial results. It’s the same…...

For more efficient lending, do this, not that

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Booking new loans can translate into increased earnings for community banks, so long as financial institutions are efficient in how they obtain, underwrite and onboard those loans. Small business loans, in particular, can contribute to an improved bottom line if an institution can increase the loan volume while booking those…...

How to eliminate data entry from loan underwriting

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Processing, underwriting and approving smaller loans for businesses can be as costly for banks and credit unions as handling larger loans, in large part, because extensive data entry is involved in each stage of the process. Financial institutions rightly concerned about being able to capture this business efficiently should look…...

How APIs help banks leverage their legacy core systems

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

One challenge for banks and credit unions looking to compete with FinTech offerings is their reliance on legacy core banking systems housing the data to manage customer accounts and run the institution. Layering new digital offerings on legacy technology and infrastructure can frustrate timelines and budgets. However, replacing core systems…...

Publicly traded banks disclose CECL progress, expected impact

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As financial institutions plan for their respective deadlines to implement the new current expected credit loss (CECL) model, they are also weighing how to disclose the potential financial impacts and how to keep stakeholders informed along the way. A study of recent SEC filings finds that publicly traded financial institutions…...

Improving the economics of small business lending

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. small business lending is big business, but community banks in recent years have given up market share on this segment as they focus on more profitable lending areas. However, community institutions can reclaim their relationship with small business borrowers and increase earnings through profitable small business lending, according to…...

What accountants need to know about cryptocurrency

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

This year may bring a barrage of questions from accounting and advisory firm clients about cryptocurrency, and Matthew May wants to help you be ready for them. “People always ask accountants about different asset classes and what people perceive to be investments, and cryptocurrency is what everyone wants to talk…...

Generate business valuation engagements: Ask clients these 7 questions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Business owners have 80 to 90 percent of their financial wealth locked up within their businesses, according to the Exit Planning Institute, which trains and advises succession planning professionals. However, survey after survey by the institute indicates that owners may have trouble liquidating this wealth when they need to. Surveys…...

Using industry data to help restaurant owners

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Wouldn’t you like to know if you are doing a good job? Business owners don’t have the luxury of a grade school teacher to hand out gold stars, but they do have you: their advisor. Accountants have a unique opportunity to help restaurant owners run their businesses better by incorporating…...

With or without external advisors, CECL transition is achievable

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

During the transition to the FASB’s current expected credit loss (CECL) model, some financial institutions are developing their own needs-based approaches to methodology, segmentation and other elections. Others are partnering with service providers to help develop the framework for a CECL transition rather than managing the effort solo. Many of…...

Away from hourly pricing: 3 value pricing alternatives for accountants

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
price services more effectively

When an accounting firm’s business client faces an IRS audit, the stakes of having qualified advice from their accountant are clearly higher than if the client needed help on a simple IRS inquiry letter or notice. The client is also likely more anxious about the audit than they would be…...

Beyond compliance: How accountants can talk about finances with business owners

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Accountants who want to shift into higher-margin advisory services can begin by making a concerted effort to talk with business clients about the financial performance of their enterprises. While this can be challenging for busy CPAs who are accustomed to dealing only with tax preparation and other routine compliance work,…...

What Super Bowl tickets can teach accountants about pricing

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

When the New England Patriots faced the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, average ticket prices right before the big game topped $5,600, according to published reports. You can bet those prices were largely driven by demand – i.e., how desperately fans wanted to see the game --…...

Top accounting blog posts of 2017

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Public accountants and business advisors will face many of the same trends and issues in 2018 that captured their attention in 2017. Balancing the challenges of tax season and the need to keep up with various technologies, such as blockchain and advances in automation, will continue to test accounting professionals.…...

CECL Progress: Poll shows many financial institutions have implementation committees

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As 2017 comes to a close, it is a good time for financial institutions to assess where they are in the process of implementing the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s new current expected credit loss (CECL) model. Based on a poll conducted recently by Sageworks, most financial institutions at a minimum…...

Will a talent shortage drive business valuation demand?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
will staff shortages drive business valuation demand

The tightening labor market could be good news for deal activity and for the business valuation professionals who assist buyers and sellers. It also highlights for business advisors a timely topic to discuss with business owners: the importance of intangible assets like talent for the value of the business. A…...

Bias in business valuations: Guard against this top kind

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
common bias in business valuations

Minor differences in the inputs of a business valuation can have a monumental impact on the final value. Therefore, it is vital that valuation professionals analyze valuation reports critically, watching for biases and guarding against the manipulation of key value drivers, according to Grassi & Co. Valuation Manager Pasquale Rafanelli,…...

The evolution of bookkeepers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

If you’re a bookkeeper, it’s time to embrace evolution. So says Ingrid Edstrom, who has built an award-winning bookkeeping and advisory firm, Polymath LLC, and has been recognized as one of the accounting profession’s Top 40 Under 40 and Most Powerful Women in Accounting. Edstrom…...

Is your website helping you win valuation engagements?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
win valuation engagements

In a field such as valuation, where repeat work with the same client isn’t as common as it is for, say, tax clients, it is vital for firms to make ongoing efforts to keep the sales pipeline full. In fact, recent polls by Sageworks have found that attracting new valuation…...

Small Business Lending – Lender Beware And Other Advice

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Guest Post By Christopher G. Webbe Senior Consultant, CEIS Some years ago, I worked in the credit department of a New York bank. Having expressed interest in getting involved in C&I lending, I was given a small business portfolio to manage. One of the borrowers…...

Ask tax clients questions to identify advisory service opportunities

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
accountants identify advisory services

Accountants preparing for the upcoming season may be tackling the annual checklists related to hiring, training, technology updates and scheduling. However, you can also use this time of year to do some casual research that will help identify advisory services that deepen relationships (and engagements) with clients throughout the year.…...

Grow your accounting firm by planning for the 2018 busy season

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
CPAs plan for 2018 busy season

Seasonality/workload compression is perennially among the most pressing issues for accounting firms, especially for smaller practices. Indeed, this was a top issue among firms with fewer than 10 professionals in the latest AICPA Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. With the final deadline of the 2016 tax…...

3 Myths about providing advisory services to accounting clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

With the latest tax deadline behind them and the individual tax season ahead, accountants this time of year often realize that they are on a treadmill of never-ending deadlines with only brief periods of relief. They may be enjoying the break they have now, but they know that the treadmill…...

Which credential is best for performing business valuations?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
selecting business valuation credentials

Demand for valuations of U.S. businesses remains solid, so some accountants and other advisors might be weighing whether to pursue valuation credentials with one or more of the professional organizations in order to expand their services. Do you need a credential in order to provide business valuations? “In the broad, global…...

Retaining females at your accounting firm

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
recruit and retain females in accounting firms

Finding qualified staff and retaining them rank as top issues at accounting firms of all sizes, according to the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section’s (PCPS) 2017 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. Given that these two challenges perennially show up in this and other surveys, accounting firms would benefit if they…...

Technology can handle these 5 accounting tasks for you

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence where machines can predict outcomes by using algorithms to interpret data, won’t eliminate the need for humans in accounting work, according to a leading expert on business, technology and big data.Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence where machines can predict outcomes by…...

5 Top takeaways from the 2017 Risk Management Summit

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The hundreds of people attending the 2017 Risk Management Summit hosted by Sageworks heard from dozens of thought leaders in the financial services industry. As a result, bank and credit union leaders came away from Denver and the three-day summit, which ended Wednesday, with a wealth of advice. They learned…...

3 Ways CPAs can leverage technology for meaningful practice growth

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A major concern surrounding technology expenditures is whether the investments will generate a return for the accounting practice. Indeed, it is this worry that keeps partners and some firms stuck using outdated solutions when they could make their work easier and grow the practice with new, differentiated services. However, identifying…...

Determining “reasonable compensation” in business valuations

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes, and so apparently is “reasonable compensation” for a business owner. Many variables can make providing a defensible, rational estimate of reasonable compensation extremely challenging when a valuation analyst is conducting a business valuation, according to Kevin Yeanoplos, CPA/ABV/CFF,…...

CECL preparations yet to begin in earnest at many banks, credit unions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Many financial institutions have yet to begin in earnest their preparations for transitioning to the current expected credit model (CECL), a recent poll by Sageworks suggests. More than half of financial professionals attending a webinar this summer, “CECL Transition Planning and Execution,” said their financial institutions have completed none of…...

Ask these 3 questions before accepting a small-business valuation engagement

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Business valuations of small enterprises can be lucrative for valuation professionals, but the nature of smaller businesses means you need to vet opportunities well, according to Pasquale Rafanelli, CPA/ABV, ASA, CVA, CFE. Rafanelli, valuation manager at Grassi & Co. and a member of the CVA Exam & Grading Committee with…...

Retaining and building loyalty with the “right” accounting firm clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Retaining the “right” clients for your accounting firm and taking the time to develop loyal relationships with those clients should be a high priority, according to practice management consultant Charles Hylan. It is significantly more expensive to attract a new client to an accounting firm than to invest in client…...

Accountants: Are you a cost center or a growth partner?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

When business owners think of their accountant, some might immediately think of the money they pay for tax preparation, an audit or other compliance services – the type of service “a client doesn’t want but needs,” as accounting thought leader Allan Koltin has described “Level 1” or “Type 1” services.…...

Business valuation software: What are the benefits?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

In the same way that no two businesses are the same, no two business valuations are the same, either.  This is partly why the practice of business valuation is often said to be part art, part science. Valuation professionals must conduct research and apply professional standards, such as the AICPA’s…...

7 Policies that help CPA and consulting firms recruit for advisory services

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A national benchmarking report shows that professional staff turnover rates exceed 20 percent in 1 of every 5 accounting firms generating more than $75 million in annual revenue. With this in mind, it is no surprise that recruiting and staffing are major issues for firms trying to grow their advisory…...

Tech hardware for accountants & advisors: A primer

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Is it reasonable to expect a chef to prepare a gourmet meal when her only resources are dull knives, expired food and an oven that does not heat properly? Of course not, because despite the chef’s training and experience, she lacks the basic tools and quality ingredients necessary to even…...

A year since CECL: Capital expected to be most impacted

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

In the 13 months since the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) finalized its new standard on accounting for credit losses, ASU 326, financial institutions have been preparing to implement what has been labeled by some industry figures as the biggest change ever to bank accounting. Although institutions will not be…...

Top 5 business valuation blog articles so far in 2017

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Summer is a good time to catch up on novels and non-fiction books you have wanted to read for fun. It can also be a great time to read professional development material dispensed in manageable doses. The Sageworks blog has dozens of brief, timely articles to help business valuation professionals…...

Spotting and avoiding common errors in valuations

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Whether it’s an error in the valuation of Snapchat parent Snap or an error in the valuation of a mom-and-pop restaurant up for sale, a mistake in valuing a business can be costly – to both the owners and the valuation professionals. The costliness of errors in valuation is one…...

Offering advisory services: Piecemeal or holistic approach?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

While accountants express the desire to generate a large share of firm revenue from providing advisory services, survey data has shown that many firms derive very little revenue from the types of value-added, consultative services that comprise advisory. Firms sometimes initially “test the waters” with advisory work, offering a handful…...

Your next accounting client wants paperless, mobile services

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Accountants looking for another reason to justify technology investments in their firms should consider this: The firm’s next generation of business clients are likely to require accounting services that are all or mostly digital. Moreover, younger business owners, in particular, expect accounting services that are in the cloud and accessible…...

How to navigate technology choices: New resource available

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

There’s a reason many people wait until their mobile phone is hopelessly outdated before getting a newer version. Technology change can be overwhelming.  Learning about new phones, selecting one that best meets current and future needs, ensuring it’s a fair price and getting it to work the way it should…...

Bank exam “hot spot”: Inflating policy limits to avoid scrutiny

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The desire to avoid examiner scrutiny may tempt some financial institutions to set the bar high when it comes to credit and liquidity risk management policy limits, but regulators are discouraging this approach.  Instead, the Federal Reserve said in a recent supervision news flash, boards should ensure that policy limits…...

How to prevent or close deal-breaking valuation gaps

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Whether a company is a Main Street florist or Fortune 100, executives and owners struggle with the gap between their perceived value of the business and the market value. In fact, this valuation gap is the top reason private-company transactions fail to close, according to the 2017 Private Capital Markets…...

How much cash should a company have?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Just as oxygen keeps humans alive and moving, cash keeps businesses surviving and thriving. How much cash is enough to meet the vital needs of a business? Is the same amount of cash sufficient for a two-owner hair salon as for a restaurant with two partners or for a builder…...

Performing business valuations with optimal efficiency

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Are business valuations at your firm as timely as they should be? Could the practice serve more clients each year if it could accelerate the process of performing business valuations? How long “should” a business valuation take? These are all relevant questions for advisory firms, particularly given the number of…...

Ahead of upcoming CECL meeting the FASB releases memos to shed light on implementation questions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Ahead of a meeting by financial-institution representatives, auditors and others, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have released five memos providing staff analyses of several issues raised about the nuances of implementing its Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) model. The Transition Resource Group for Credit Losses will meet Monday beginning…...

Poll: Accountants want substantially more revenue from advisory services

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Everywhere these days, news headlines scream that automation stands to eliminate many of the traditional jobs in the U.S.: “Robots are coming for white-collar workers’ jobs” and “More Robots, Fewer Jobs.” Indeed, a 2013 research study estimates that nearly half of total U.S. employment is at high risk of becoming…...

Adding advisory services? Start with your clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Developing predictable revenue streams can help your firm grow in ways you may not have initially thought possible. Many CPAs spend the bulk of their careers bearing up under the weight of their tax and compliance workload while bringing in revenues that fall short, given the time and effort invested…...

Critical pain points for business borrowers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Interest rates may be important to small business borrowers, but when it comes to how satisfied they are with recent borrowing experiences, it’s not all about the money. Instead, applicants have more gripes about the process they encountered at financial institutions than about the financial aspects of their transactions, according…...

How to develop proactive advisory services

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Attend any conference, webinar or professional development course and you will most likely hear the buzz on the importance of becoming more relevant to your clients, adding advisory services and delivering more value. While it sounds great in theory and everyone agrees, just how is this to be accomplished when…...

New guide focuses on improving cash flow to grow the business

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Small businesses in the U.S. face cash flow challenges on a monthly basis, but are business owners and their advisors asking the right questions and addressing the critical areas to change course?  Recent research by JPMorgan Chase Institute showed that the median small business has an average of only $7…...

9 “hot spot” issues examiners see at banks with CRE loans

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Commercial real estate lending continues to receive regulatory scrutiny and reminders for financial institutions to practice solid risk management. FDIC officials in March outlined several types of weaknesses in loan underwriting, administration and oversight practices that are emerging at some banks with CRE portfolios. In its latest “Supervisory Insights” publication,…...

Win new valuation engagements by asking business owners these 4 questions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

If the thought of finding your next valuation client causes a jump in your blood pressure, you’re not alone.  Attracting new clients is a common challenge for valuation professionals. Unlike traditional accounting services (such as tax preparation and audits) that some clients need each year, valuations are often performed to…...

Cash flow analysis: Providing value to business owners

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A chief benefit of technology is that it enables accountants and other business advisors to do more work in less time. However, as author/speaker/consultant and “futurist” Daniel Burrus has noted, a negative byproduct for service professionals utilizing time-based billing is that technology can lead to reduced income. That is, professionals…...

Business valuation pros: Avoid these common professional liability claims

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Business valuation specialists live within the tension of running an efficient practice and limiting exposure to professional liability claims.  Standards, such as the AICPA’s SSVS No. 1 (Statement on Standards for Valuations Services No. 1) provide guidance on best practices that can help professionals avoid liability while performing valuation services.…...

15 Twitter accounts every bank executive should follow

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The ABA has a new report out on how banks are using social media, and much of the report focuses on using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like to boost customer service, make connections in the community and recruit staff. Other advisors and trade groups have written plenty on how…...

These 20 Tweets during #busyseason show the struggle is real for CPAs

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

It’s grind time for public tax accountants and auditors. February and March (and for firms providing tax services,fe April) are generally the busiest months all year. As a result, millions of accountants are putting in extra hours of work and dealing with added stresses related to challenging clients or situations.…...

What teens can teach advisors about technology

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

I often find my teen-age son sprawled across the couch, watching YouTube videos on his tablet.  “Whatcha doing?” I’ll ask.  “Watching a documentary about whales,” he’ll sometimes say. Or,  “Watching a video about a videogame.”  The truth is, today’s teens spend a lot of their “down time” being entertained by…...

Trends in succession planning for family-owned firms

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A recently released survey of family-owned businesses finds an interesting statistic with important ramifications for the future of American businesses and the advisors who work with them: There’s waning interest in passing the ownership baton to other family members. In fact, among family-owned firms that foresee an ownership change within…...

Writing a business valuation report clients will want to read

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Americans spend a lot of time each year planning how to grow their retirement savings in 401(k) plans or other investments. But business owners, who typically have more than half of their net worth tied up in their businesses, may not devote a similar level of attention to ensuring their…...

Help business clients use technology to improve cash flow

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As anyone advising business owners knows, clients are often so busy with day-to-day operations and management that they find it tough to gain a big-picture view of certain financial aspects, such as cash flow. That’s one way the advisor adds true value to the relationship: By helping the business owner…...

The rise of the accounting entrepreneur

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

In a recent Sageworks webinar, The Rise of the Accounting Entrepreneur, Jason Blumer compared the accounting industry today to that of the past, and explained how accountants today can lead their firms to greater financial success while finding greater personal fulfillment by becoming entrepreneurs. Blumer, founder of CPA network Thriveal, began…...

3 top tech trends for public accountants to watch in 2017

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Kimberley N. Ellison-Taylor, chairman of the AICPA, recently noted that technology tops her list of the most important trends shaping 2017 because it will drive so many of the profession’s opportunities and challenges in the year ahead. But how are accountants supposed to keep up with all of the technological…...

3 Ways you may be ruining your financial presentations

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

For accountants, valuation professionals and other business advisory professionals, financial presentations are a fact of life. Even if you are among the many people who fear public speaking more than they fear death, chances are that you will be required to present financials to clients or managers at some point…...

Technology considerations in an accounting firm merger

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Aside from the accounting firm’s staff, technology likely represents the area where a firm has made its biggest investments over the years, so it makes sense that technology considerations should be included in discussions about possible mergers or acquisitions. However, according to industry consultant Jim Boomer of Boomer Consulting, people…...

Benefits of following SSVS No. 1 for business valuations

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Most professional services providers understand that “standards” are a way of doing things -- the norm, or what is approved by some authority. Thus, the AICPA’s Statement on Standards for Valuations Services No. 1, known as SSVS No. 1, outlines how the AICPA expects its members to provide valuations. But…...

Helping business owners manage cash flow

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Ask your business clients how they know whether their business is successful, and many of them are likely to answer: “I check my bank balance.” Indeed, cash is king when it comes to operating an enterprise, and for small companies in particular, it’s imperative to ensure enough cash is coming…...

Tips to help your business clients generate more cash

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As a business advisor, you know that when clients don’t greatly value a service or understand its worth, they’re more price-sensitive and willing to shop around. By the same token, once a client sees how your strategic or business advice will help them make money, they are more willing to…...

Reduce your accounting firm’s cyber risks with these 8 actions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Demand for effective cyber risk management is so strong that the AICPA is developing common criteria for CPAs to use as they help clients evaluate their programs and efforts. Meanwhile, accountants themselves understand the importance of good cyber security practices in their own offices, given recent reports of attacks by…...

3 Excel tips to help accountants avoid common errors

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

In a recent Sageworks webinar, 3 Excel Tips for Accountants to Avoid Common Errors, Jeff Lenning, CPA and Author of Excel University, described key tips that can help accountants avoid common Excel errors and get their work done more efficiently. Lenning’s webinar is one of many resources Sageworks provides to…...

Advantages of web-based software for valuation

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Businesses across all industries are continuing to transition to web-based software solutions from desktop applications as firms look to maximize technology investments and streamline operations in a way that meets changing client needs.  Indeed, some 77 percent of organizations in a recent survey said they use software as a service…...

3 Charts showing the state of CRE lending standards

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Bank regulators for many quarters have expressed concern about easing underwriting standards in commercial real estate lending, especially as examiners have noticed increased concentrations of CRE loans in financial institutions’ portfolios. Even so, a recent survey by Sageworks found that 42 percent of bankers identify CRE as the primary focus…...

How to make your accounting firm more attractive to potential buyers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Many accounting firms are offering estate planning or wealth management services, but ironically, a lot of CPAs aren’t necessarily ready for their own retirement. One in every four CPA firms currently faces challenges related to succession planning, according to a recent survey by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section and…...

3 Signs your valuation firm’s technology is outdated

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

For valuation professionals looking to grow their practices, technology plays a critical role. In order to scale any business, leaders must reduce time spent on repetitive or mundane tasks as much as possible to create the capacity and time to develop and offer new services or to handle new clients.…...

What Oreos can teach accountants about growing the firm

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Accountants wanting to grow revenue by adding new services should look to the Oreo cookie for a few lessons, according to Katie Tolin, a member of the Association for Accounting Marketing’s Hall of Fame and founder of CPA Growth Guides. Tolin, who recently led a Sageworks webinar for accountants on…...

The impact of lower energy prices on banks

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Banks operating in oil and gas intensive areas of the U.S. have experienced a significant increase in nonperforming commercial and industrial loans, but not in other types of loans – at least so far, according to a recent study by Federal Reserve researchers. “Our evidence seems to back up the…...

How better audit planning produces better audits

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Vacations usually go more smoothly when you’ve made reservations and researched your destination.  Buying a car is easier when you’ve done your homework on the vehicle model and made some initial inquiries to line up financing. It’s a fact of life that in many processes of our day-to-day personal and…...

How to market business valuation services

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Continuing to grow the business valuation practice is an ongoing concern for many practitioners. The one-and-done nature of many types of valuations means that repeat business with the same client isn’t as common as it is for some other professional services, so feeding the pipeline is a continuous process. In…...

Need inspiration? 5 Motivational quotes from “Next-Level Accountants”

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Surveys show that clients and the general public admire and respect accountants. For example, respondents in Xero’s recent survey mostly considered accountants as analytical, intelligent and having strong business skills. In addition, accountants were ranked only below doctors and firefighters on the dateablity scale, if that kind of ranking is…...

How technology improves valuation practice productivity

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Have you purchased anything online recently? If you’re like most Americans, you have, and you likely were grateful for the time saved in traffic and at the store, or for the time or money saved in booking a trip. The benefits of utilizing e-commerce technology are readily apparent to us…...

Valuation vs. Calculation: When to perform which

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Accountants and valuation professionals may be asked to opine on the value of businesses for many different circumstances. It could be that a business owner asks casually about the value of his or her business as a first step to planning an exit strategy. Another situation could involve a partnership…...

Accounting firm clients want these services from you

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Market research in the U.S. is a $20 billion industry, according to industry-market researcher IBISWorld, indicating that U.S. companies are willing to spend hefty sums each year to find out more about their customers or clients. Knowing the buyer and knowing exactly what products or services the client/customer wants can…...

What’s keeping your firm from providing advisory services?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

For at least a decade, the accounting profession’s thought leaders have preached the need for accountants to grow advisory services, and many firms would like nothing more than to reduce their reliance on tax returns and other compliance services to generate revenue. However, many firms are “struggling with the mindset,…...

Updating your valuation engagement letter template

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

In the hustle and bustle of running your valuation practice, it can be convenient to incorporate templates for letters and documents as you accept engagements and produce valuation reports to enhance the valuation practice’s efficiency. A standard format for engagement letters can be helpful to ensure that you have covered…...

Do you know your bank or credit union’s top priorities?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Day in and day out, bankers face a number of pressures as they do their jobs. They must find new customers and keep current customers happy. They must keep a tight rein on expenses and avoid running afoul of the many regulatory requirements for their institutions. And they must keep…...

Accountants: People like & trust you. How to monetize that

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Guess what, accountants? Americans really like you.  In fact, in Gallup’s annual measure of U.S. business sectors, the accounting industry garnered the fifth-highest positive rating. And while accounting wasn’t as popular as the restaurant industry or farming, it enjoyed a nearly 4-to-1 positive-over-negative rating in Gallup’s poll, released recently. Accounting…...

Factors influencing discounts applied in private-company valuations

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Valuation professionals find that business owners are frequently surprised to learn that their business may not be worth as much as they expected – or close to what they are counting on in order to have a comfortable retirement or the life they’ve dreamed of having after selling the business.…...

The future of accounting: Key trends to know

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A friend on Facebook recently posted the following exchange with her adolescent son, and it’s an excellent reminder of the constant change we face in life and in our careers: Son: You know what I just realized?Mom: What’s that?Son: You must have been really smart when you went through school...you…...

5 “Must go” benefits of the Sageworks Pre-Conference ALLL Users’ Group

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Too many of us underutilize the technology we have available because our days are filled with “putting out fires” rather than discovering ways to make the most of these current resources. Take your smartphone, for example. When a colleague (or your teen-ager at home) shows you a “trick” or a…...

Banks should know these 5 Traits of Millennial business owners

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Everywhere you look, it seems, there are articles about Millennials: Millennial workers, Millennial customers, Millennial homeowners, Millennial voters. This generation -- described often as being born between the early 1980s and early 2000s (i.e., currently in their late teens to their mid-30s) -- seems to be both hated and loved,…...

Build a better accounting practice, 15 minutes at a time

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Like the proverbial shoemaker’s barefoot children, CPAs and other professional services firms working nonstop to help businesses run more smoothly or profitably sometimes overlook their own need for new ideas to improve their practices. Continuing education requirements for licensure, client work, administrative tasks and “putting out fires” can routinely take…...

7 Aspects of your CPA firm culture that can make or break a merger

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

When it comes to a merger of accounting firms, the process can depend on way more than the bottom-line financial terms of the deal, according to Philip J. Whitman, CPA, president and CEO of Whitman Business Advisors LLC. Indeed, many features of the firms involved will have an outsized impact…...

Print copy of “Next-Level Accountants” now available

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Despite a decade of eReaders and eBooks, many people still prefer printed books, according to Deloitte and other researchers. "I just like to feel the paper” or “I understand more when I see it on paper” are some common reasons people give for choosing hard-copy books over eReaders. In fact,…...

FASB issues CECL – new standard for credit-loss recognition

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

After years in the works, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued its final guidance on a new current expected credit loss (CECL) model, starting the clock for banks, credit unions, other entities and their preparers to implement the new requirements over the next few years.  “The CECL model will…...

Watch out for these frequent pitfalls in business valuation

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Business valuation is often said to be part art, part science. Either part of the process, however, can lead to trouble for valuation professionals who aren’t careful.  Gary Trugman, CPA/ABV, MCBA, ASA, MVS, who has literally written the book for accountants on business valuations, knows about many of the problems…...

What are opportunities for accountants to provide advisory services?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Accounting, audit and tax services are unlikely to be the growth engines of the accounting profession in the coming years. Indeed, consultant Allan Koltin, one of Accounting Today’s 100 Most Influential People in Accounting and one of INSIDE Public Accounting’s Most Recommended Consultants, predicts growth in these Level 1 services…...

How your bank or credit union should get ready for CECL

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB Issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. The Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) long-awaited final guidance on its new standard for measuring expected credit losses is expected to be released in June, a step that…...

Vacationing? Take along this book for accountants, valuation pros

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Looking for a quick read to help grow your accounting firm or valuation practice? Sageworks recently published Next-Level Accountants: Your guide to growing a firm of trusted advisors, a book that brings together many of the accounting and valuation professions’ top thought leaders to provide practical strategies to help firms…...

Supervisor focus: Credit risk management, stress testing

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Monitoring credit risk management, interest rate risk and banks’ ability to stress test loans affected by low oil prices are among the priorities for supervisors at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) these days, according to the agency’s recent mid-year status report on its operating plan. The…...

Watch for these errors on intangible assets

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Auditors face numerous challenges when it comes to helping clients understand financial reporting issues related to accounting for intangible assets acquired in a business combination. Some challenges are a function of management’s attempts to prepare the purchase price allocation with insufficient expertise, according to Rachel Flaskey, vice president at Chartwell,…...

How accountants can leverage technology to boost client financial literacy, loyalty

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

If you’ve ever listened to or watched “The Dave Ramsey Show” or another financial advice program that features people who turned around their finances, you’ll frequently hear the host ask what prompted the people to make a change. Often, it was a crisis – a lost job or a major…...

OCC calls for “responsible innovation” amid fintech wave

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The Office of the Comptroller of Currency, recognizing the sweeping changes in technology and business practices that are affecting financial institutions, is recommending U.S. banks incorporate “responsible innovation” as they adapt quickly to these advances, but what exactly does that mean?  In a recent whitepaper (download), the regulator outlined the…...

The role of bank directors in managing risk

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The FDIC is offering a fresh take on how a bank’s board of directors should understand and manage risk. This insight could be helpful to share with a financial institution’s directors. The regulator’s April edition of Supervisory Insights provides what the FDIC called a “refresher” on its Pocket Guide for…...

5 Common errors found in valuation reports

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Nobody’s perfect.  Indeed, even when you use spreadsheets to try to reduce errors, there’s a good chance of a mistake. One 2008 report combining data from multiple studies of spreadsheet errors noted that 88 percent of spreadsheet documents audited in these studies contained errors. “For large spreadsheets, the issue is…...

Choosing loan portfolio software: New buyer’s guide available

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A recent survey by Sageworks found that U.S. bankers expect to lend more to businesses in 2016, and as they expand their commercial lending, some financial institutions may seek to better manage their loan portfolios and lending-related risks using loan portfolio management software. Sageworks has a new guide for evaluating…...

Teach clients to treat their business like an investment

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

To grow your business valuation services, help your clients learn how to treat their business like an investment. Doing so can generate repeat valuation engagements while boosting your role as a trusted advisor. Only 5 percent of business owners generally need a business valuation due to death, divorce or some…...

How to survey clients of your accounting firm

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery
win valuation engagements

Industry consultant Allan Koltin once shared a statistic that probable client retention rates were 81 percent for clients using four services from their financial services provider, compared with 12 percent for clients using just one service. This indicates that accountants can benefit when clients utilize more services from the firm.…...

Pessimists about bank M&A cite pricing, capital constraints

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Two out of every three bank executives and directors surveyed recently believe their bank needs to grow significantly in order to compete in today’s market, but how will they do that? Clearly, many banks expect to grow through acquisitions. Fifty-one percent of bankers and board members surveyed in the 2016…...

Help clients plan a successful business exit

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Baby boomer business owners will retire in droves over the next decade, which means they will consider their options for passing on the business to family or key employees or for selling the business to a third party. However, this process will be a new experience for most owners, since…...

Lending to nonprofits: Considerations for credit analysis

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. nonprofits are growing in number, revenue and assets, according to the most recent data available on this important segment of the economy. Financial institutions considering lending to nonprofits may want to be aware of these recent financial trends, as well as some of the ways lending to these organizations…...

The state of U.S. small businesses

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Given their roles, accountants have unique insight into trends among their own small business clients, and they can probably provide an idea of how firms generally fared in 2015 based on conversations and recent engagements. But a recent financial statement analysis by Sageworks, a financial information company, provides a look…...

Advising your client: To sell valuation engagements, think like a business owner

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

It takes a special kind of person to start and run a business. As valuation professionals know, however, some of the same traits that make a business owner a successful entrepreneur are qualities that can make it tough to land a business valuation engagement with them.  “It’s hard to sell…...

Loan-pricing models: What to consider for loan origination

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Financial institutions that structure and optimize pricing for loans are able to make sure they are adequately compensated for the risk they are taking. Instead of pricing loans based on a “gut feel” or a request to match or beat competitors’ rates, institutions that utilize loan-pricing models for origination incorporate…...

Win new valuation clients by leveraging and looking

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Politicians and pundits debating these days how candidates can win will often discuss the importance of “playing to the base,” that core group of supporters who will be loyal voters and will evangelize for the candidate. At the same time, campaign players and watchers also acknowledge that it’s important to…...

Time savings – just when you need it

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

How an electronic tax return reader provides more time for advisory services As accountants and their staff scramble to complete client W-2s and 1099s to meet other deadlines related to the start of tax season, it’s hard to see an end to the crazy schedules.  However, before you know it,…...

How accountants can conduct consultative client meetings

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Some accountants bristle at the idea of selling their services. This may be because of past experiences with stereotypically pushy salespeople or because of past experiences trying to sell that resulted in awkwardness or rejection. Or it may simply be because accountants are afraid of harming the trust that has…...

GAO notes regulations’ trickle-down effects on smaller banks

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A lengthy report released recently by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) highlights the challenges that regulatory changes bring to financial institutions. The GAO acknowledged that community banks, credit unions and their professional industry associations reported increased compliance burdens and reduced activity in specific business activities, such as certain mortgage…...

Business development strategies for 2016: Marketing

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A favorite principle that financial advisors like to discuss is “compounding”: How saving a little now can help magnify your returns down the road as the interest or the investment gains multiply. This concept of compounding is appealing. After all, who doesn’t like to get back more than they put…...

Most businesses aren’t selling; guide your clients to a successful exit

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Are you the go-to person when your business clients decide to exit their businesses – either through a sale or transfer to family, key employees or a third party? Chances are, you’re not. Only 12 percent of business owners, including those who plan to exit as soon as five years,…...

Incorporating accounting industry trends into your growth plans

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Reflecting on the past year, accountants can undoubtedly point to goals they have achieved and some that have been left unmet. The start of a new year is an excellent time to regroup and refocus your practice on growth and how to most effectively and efficiently achieve it. Katie Tolin,…...

Sageworks’ speakers tackle tough banking topics

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Sageworks banking industry experts are winding down a busy year of disseminating information and facilitating discussions on regulatory changes, such as the FASB’s upcoming move to the current expected credit loss model (CECL), and on best practices for portfolio risk management and credit analysis. Sageworks consultants have hosted and spoken…...

FDIC cautions of increasing credit, interest-rate risks

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Add FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg to the list of regulators and industry officials warning about growing credit risks in the U.S. In prepared remarks for the release of the FDIC’s third-quarter version of the Quarterly Banking Profile, Gruenberg said growing interest-rate risk and credit risk warrant “timely attention” by…...

Are your bankers making loans or managing credit risk?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A tell-tale sign that winter is coming is the shrinking number of hours of daylight each day. As dusk falls earlier each day and as the sun rises later, we are reminded that summer has drawn to a close and cold weather is near.  For some people, this knowledge prompts…...

Want answers on CECL? Fed webinar aimed at non-bankers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. The Federal Reserve announced it will hold a special information session later this month for accountants, consultants, auditors and others to learn more about the FASB’s forthcoming current expected…...

How to forecast future expected credit losses

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A central difference between the existing incurred-loss model for estimating credit losses and the FASB’s proposal utilizing a current expected credit loss, or CECL, model is that financial institutions will need to estimate credit losses on loans over the life of the loan. Shifting from estimating only losses already incurred…...

CECL preparation: Do this, not that

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. Understandably, financial institutions of all sizes have numerous questions about how they will implement the FASB’s proposed current expected credit loss model, or CECL, once the standard is finalized.…...

CECL is a hot topic at Sageworks Risk Management Summit

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. The Financial Accounting Standard Board’s proposed move to the current expected credit loss, or CECL, is top of mind for many of the bankers and industry experts attending the…...

Final CECL guidance expected by year end despite 2 board members’ opposition

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. Despite a report that two FASB board members will vote against the final version of the current expected credit loss (CECL) model, a spokeswoman told Sageworks Friday that the…...

How will NCUA’s new member-business lending rule impact risk management?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As credit unions await the finalization of the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) proposed changes to rules for business lending, they may do well to remember Spider-Man’s creed that “With great power comes great responsibility.” That’s because the proposed rule shifts from prescriptive rules to a principles-based approach that eliminates…...

How banks get more value out of conducting stress tests

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Most people who exercise regularly can vouch for the side benefits of physical activity. Putting periodic, controlled physical stress on your heart, lungs and muscles often produces more than just improved fitness; people also report better moods and lower appetites, for example. In the same way, financial institutions conducting stress…...

3 Do’s and 4 don’ts ahead of CECL

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. Banking industry experts expect the FASB’s long-discussed move to the Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) model will be finalized by the end of the year, but many bank and…...

Non-performing ag loans increase, says lender survey

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Agricultural lenders are reporting increases in non-performing farms loans and decreased farmland values, according to the latest Agricultural Lender Survey conducted by the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics. Lenders reported that over the past three months, total farm dollar volume rose and is expected to increase in the…...

Building your valuation practice? Know your marketing message.

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Marketing your valuation business is more important than ever. With the rise of social media and other new communication techniques, industries that may have once been considered “traditional” must seek new ways to engage potential clients and to reengage existing clients. While many business professionals can still keep their companies…...

Here’s what business valuation pros didn’t learn in school

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Chances are, most business valuation professionals took accounting, finance or economic classes in college – courses that focused on areas to provide them general competency in their jobs today. It’s less likely that many of these valuation professionals took marketing classes, especially not one that incorporated the seismic shifts that…...

The role and challenges of financial institutions in the small multifamily rental market

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The topic of affordable rental housing is likely to be an increasingly popular one in the coming years, given the number of baby boomers expected to downsize as they retire and the rising share of millennials choosing rentals over homeownership. Indeed, a number of recent reports have raised concerns that…...

Ag lending demand increases as farm margins tighten

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Commercial lenders could continue to see elevated demand for agricultural loans – particularly for short-term financing to cover operating expenses -- thanks to tight profit margins for many producers. “Loan volumes for almost all farming purposes rose at commercial banks, as many producers contended with tighter profit margins” during the…...

Marketing tips to boost your valuation business

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Unlike many traditional accounting services, such as tax preparation and auditing, valuation work is often a one-and-done kind of engagement. Recurring projects with the same client aren’t very common, unless it’s an annual assessment of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or something similar.  As a result, bringing in new…...

Optimizing valuation engagements to aid business development

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Bringing in new clients is a top priority for forensic and valuation accountants, with 87 percent calling the task somewhat or extremely important, according to a recent AICPA study. The emphasis on business development is understandable. Valuation work lacks as much repeat business (unless it’s tied to a recurring engagement…...

What can accountants learn about pricing and cross-selling from retailers?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A common mistake among retailers is selling based on price rather than on value, a retail industry consultant wrote recently. When retailers focus on price, it results in customers “cherry-picking the best item while avoiding the profit-filled add ons,” says The Retail Doctor founder Bob Phibbs. “It’s like they go…...

Effective and efficient business valuation report writing

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Business valuation services are among the highest-growing niche services among Top 100 accounting firms, according to Accounting Today. One aspect of providing this service, however, is notoriously time-consuming and frustrating: Writing business valuation reports. At the same time, it’s crucial that you produce a quality report, according to Rod Burkert,…...

3 resolutions to boost your accounting practice in 2015

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

When your house is on fire, it’s not a good time to pause and review your fire-prevention strategy. At that point, you’re concerned mostly with smothering the flames or getting out alive. In the same way, once busy season begins, you’ll have precious little time to consider whether your accounting…...

Top blog posts for accountants in 2014

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Sageworks has worked all year to bring accountants information that helps you serve clients and run your practice better, and many of our blog posts have been especially popular. Below is a list of the five most popular posts for accountants from the Sageworks blog this year. If you’re planning…...

Address your top pain points in performing valuations

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Demand for valuation services is growing, according to a recent AICPA survey, with increased opportunities expected in shareholder/partner disputes, contractual disputes, family law, and gift and estate taxes, among other areas.  Indeed, most valuation professionals in the survey said they expect between 10 percent and 50 percent growth in their…...

New Year’s Resolution: Healthier accounting firm growth with a pipeline full of better clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

If you intended to start a new health regimen after the first of the year, you would start planning for the change, right? Maybe you’d research gym memberships or look into the cost of joining a programmed diet. Perhaps you’d start reading motivational articles to psych yourself up for the…...

3 Keys to attracting and retaining higher-paying clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Whether your accounting firm is small, medium or large, one of the biggest issues you’re facing is attracting and retaining clients. Survey after survey, including a recent one by Accounting Today, finds this to be among the top issues keeping accountants awake at night.  But most accountants know that it’s…...

A too-busy-to-change mentality can cost accounting firms new business

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

How many times in the last year have you or someone at your accounting firm said, “We’d love to expand into that area, but we’re too busy”? Or “I’m too busy to switch over to a new way of doing things that may be better/more efficient”? How many times have…...

How tax accountants can provide valuation services

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

For some accountants, tax and audit services are attractive for the recurring revenue streams and steady client base they provide. Some of those same accountants believe they’re too busy to provide value-added type 2 services such as business valuations, so they refer out their clients who have needs in those…...

Use technology to retain accounting clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Let’s face it: business owners need accountants for more than taxes alone.  Many people who start and run businesses lack the financial perspective to be able to look at their financial statements and see potential pitfalls or opportunities for improving performance. And they desire guidance on how to plan for…...

Opportunities in advisory services, accounting industry leader says

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Core tax and accounting services will remain integral to the accounting profession, but accountants may also find opportunities in specialty services, an AICPA leader said this week. Carl Peterson, vice president of the AICPA’s small firm interests groups, told Accounting Today’s Growth & Profitability Summit this week that accountants are…...

4 Ways to market your firm’s niche

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

If your accounting firm doesn't have a formal marketing plan in place, you're not alone. Six out of seven accounting firms represented at a recent webinar hosted by Sageworks said their firms lack such a plan to guide their efforts to attract new business and bolster their reputation or brand.…...

Accountants win more clients doing these 3 things

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Have you ever wondered why your accounting firm lost out on a recent engagement? Do you get frustrated when clients show little interest in utilizing the firm’s additional services that are offered? A lot of accountants may assume that they lost a potential client because another firm presented a lower…...

Top mistakes accountants are making with existing clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell was referring to environmental impacts when she sang, “Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got/Till it’s gone” in "Big Yellow Taxi." But chances are, many accountants have the same thought after a client leaves the practice – especially someone who was with…...

4 Ways providing valuations can help your accounting practice

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Business clients see their accountant as a trusted resource with the knowledge and expertise to help them improve their business and avoid pitfalls. Many of those clients will be facing major life and business decisions in the near future as they approach retirement age, presenting a unique opportunity for accountants…...

Valuation demand is growing; Is your accounting firm ready?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Baby boomers have been driving and are expected to continue to drive an increase in the sale of businesses in the next decade, given their influential ownership of private companies. In fact, a survey of deal advisors earlier this year by Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project, the International Business Brokers…...

Retain top female staff in your accounting firm

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Women made up a slightly larger share of partners at CPA firms last year than they did the previous year, but there’s still room for improvement, according to industry consultant Marc Rosenberg. The latest Rosenberg Survey found that 16.4 percent of partners at the nearly 400 accounting firms surveyed were female,…...

What can a niche retailer teach accountants about growing their business?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Tractor Supply has been one of the fastest-growing retailers in the U.S. for several years running, and it owes much of its success to one thing: It specializes in serving a particular group of customers, and it primarily sells products those customers want. Instead of targeting do-it-yourself homeowners generally or…...

Why seat-of-the-pants marketing is bad for accounting firms

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

What drove your accounting firm’s most recent marketing efforts? Did you see a rival firm’s new brochure and think, “We, too, need a new brochure”?  Did you personally get a newsletter from a lawyer or other professional services firm and admit your firm should also be doing something like that?…...

Use technology to make the most of your accounting firm’s staff

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, some companies in recent years have cut entry-level jobs in order to restrain costs. Other employers, including some accounting firms facing staffing challenges, expect lower-level hires to handle duties that might formerly have been performed by workers with more experience. “Everyone gets pushed…...

3 Easy ways accountants can build on their clients’ trust

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

This infographic from the AICPA shows how CPAs are viewed by business decision makers. Good news:  9 out of 10 business decision makers view CPAs as valuable assets to their organization, and more than half rank CPAs as their most trusted advisor. Indeed, according to research for the AICPA by…...

Being a thought leader helps your accounting firm recruit, retain staff

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Finding and retaining quality staff is a top issue for accounting firms of many sizes. Employee turnover has increased in recent years, and the average partner age has also edged up (to 53.2 years), according to the most recent Rosenberg MAP Survey. Manpower Group’s annual U.S. Talent Shortage Survey once…...

7 Ways accountants can “do” thought leadership and content marketing

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Are you a social butterfly? Do you quiver at the thought of leading a breakfast seminar for 100 prospects? Or do you quiver in a bad way – because you’re more comfortable behind a computer screen, answering questions about specific situations clients are facing, or sharing interesting articles through LinkedIn?…...

Top recent Twitter posts for accountants

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Twitter is a great way to keep up with news and with corporate announcements, but many accountants don’t have time to scroll through feeds and figure out who’s worth following. Here are five recent Tweets that contained useful information for accountants: 1. Accounting industry M&A The New Jersey Society of…...

How accountants can give awesome financial presentations

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

When accountants prepare to meet with prospects or to review a company’s financial performance with its board, remembering three things will help you develop an awesome presentation that solidifies your role as trusted advisor: 1. People are busy. 2. People are distracted. 3. People want to know the bottom line…...

Hot summer reads for accountants: Books and popular blog posts

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The awesome thing about technology is that your vacation reading list can be packed in your smartphone or tablet. Now more than ever, it’s easy to find something good to read when you’re relaxing in the mountains, chilling at the beach or (heaven forbid) waiting at the airport during a…...

How to master small talk and help your accounting practice

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Everyone is pressed for time, and accountants are especially so, particularly at certain times of the year. But every time you contact or meet someone, you have an opportunity to cultivate new business, whether it’s with the person with whom you’re speaking or with someone they know.  That’s why it’s…...

Are your accounting firm’s clients cheating on you?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Roughly 1 in 3 clients uses multiple accounting firms to meet all of their needs, according to a recent survey by consulting firm L. Harris Partners. If you believe that percentage is smaller for your firm, you might be right, or you might be naïve. Another survey by the firm…...

Grow your accounting firm by shrinking your focus

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  Did you know you can expand your accounting firm’s business by narrowing its focus? Many accountants worry they must be “all things to all clients,” offering specific services to clients from various industries, of various sizes and of various value to the firm. As a result, firms are often…...

Do clients want accountants to give proactive advice? You betcha!

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Here’s both a tip to accountants looking for new business clients and a warning to accountants about existing clients:  A recent survey by technology provider The Sleeter Group found that the top reason small- and medium-sized businesses left their accountant was because the accountant did not give proactive advice, only…...

Why should accountants specialize?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Many accounting firms believe that in order to generate as much business as possible, they must be generalists. They may prefer to focus on a handful of industries or offer a narrower range of services, but they worry that doing so could cost them revenue and financial security. As a…...

How accountants get new clients by using ProfitCents

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

"On what page can I find the fee?"Accountants often get this question as they meet with prospects to present a service proposal, and unfortunately, sometimes they get it soon after handing the prospect the proposal. The fierce competition in accounting these days has pressured some accounting firms to compete on…...

Accountants: Help clients with these 3 pain points

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  While some clients may view their accountants as tax preparers or compliance resources, accountants are in a unique position to provide additional services that address business clients’ major pain points. Your training, experience and insight can help business owners gain perspective on the financial performance of their business and…...

No-nonsense networking for accountants

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Are there people in your network who have previously referred clients, have been good clients themselves, or who know the types of people or firms that might need your services? For accountants, sometimes the issue with networking effectively is less about identifying connections than it is about finding ways to…...

Want to discourage price-shopping by your accounting clients? Here’s how

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Do clients ever tell you they’ve priced-shopped your services? Do they ever leave with no explanation, maybe because they were price focused? Or are you worried you’ll have to lower your prices or continue to forego increases in order to retain good customers? An effective way to insulate your accounting…...

Relax and reflect once busy season ends

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Congratulations! With April 15 behind us, the end to what’s considered the busiest season for tax accountants has come (even though many will undoubtedly have plenty of work left to tackle). Granted, those of you in auditing are still gutting it out to the finish line, but at least the…...

Accountants: Make the most of your tax-time meetings with business clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Accountants who meet with business clients to deliver tax returns during busy season are understandably pressed for time and attention. These brief meetings, however, are an important part of developing and cementing your role as a trusted advisor, and they can pave the way for cross-selling additional services to existing…...

Business valuations: Opportunities for accountants

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Have you ever had a business client who was terrific to work with but who stopped being a client because he or she retired?  If you’ve been an accountant for long, chances are you’ve seen a business client or two drop off of your list because the owner retired and…...

Private equity’s “dry powder” pushing buyout valuations higher

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Private equity firms ended 2013 with a record $1.07 trillion in “dry powder,” or capital committed but yet to be invested. But some deal makers have indicated that tough competition among buyers and high prices for sellers are creating some challenges, including lofty valuations. The Wall Street Journal and The…...

4 Stress-busting ideas for accountants during busy season

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Let’s all agree that drinking at the office during busy season isn’t a good idea – for you or your clients. So what are some other ways accountants can battle the effects of continuous stress and long hours in the coming months? Here are four stress-busting ideas: 1. Take your…...

Asset-based lending represents opportunities, challenges

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As additional banks develop asset-based lending programs to diversify their portfolios and earnings streams, they are encountering challenges and opportunities, according to a recent article in American Banker. Robert Trojan, the chief executive at the Commercial Finance Association, noted in an interview with the publication that many banks are developing…...

Top 2013 accounting posts, webinars and whitepapers from Sageworks

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

In 2013, accountants have worked hard to bolster their skills and lead their accounting firms to a prosperous year. In addition to logging countless hours on client services, many accountants have read thought-leadership pieces and attended educational webinars to improve their firms. Sageworks compiled a list of the most popular…...

Elements of an effective accounting firm website

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

By Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk, President and CEO, bbr marketing In times past, your office was the center of your business and the place where your accounting practice made a first impression. It was there that people sought more information and a point of contact after their interest was piqued, either…...

Pass-throughs to get more IRS scrutiny

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The IRS plans to shift more resources and attention to audits of pass-through entities in 2014 and beyond, according to published reports of comments by Faris Fink, head of the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed division. Accounting Web and CFO.com both reported recently that Fink (yes, the Fink who played Spock in a…...

Pass-throughs to get more IRS scrutiny

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The IRS plans to shift more resources and attention to audits of pass-through entities in 2014 and beyond, according to published reports of comments by Faris Fink, head of the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed division. Accounting Web and CFO.com both reported recently that Fink (yes, the Fink who played Spock in a…...

Study examines financial statements as loan-monitoring mechanisms

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Monitoring the loan portfolio is vital to ensuring loans don’t default, but how much contact with a borrower is enough? And how frequently should financial institutions be asking for financial statements, tax returns or other information?  Every bank or credit union has its own loan administration system and requirements for…...

The profit squeeze is on for some financial institutions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

It’s getting harder for community banks to generate positive operating leverage, American Banker said in a recent review of third-quarter results posted by the industry. controlling costs, according to the report. Still, some remain willing to spend in order to generate additional revenue.  For example, Riverhead, N.Y.-based Suffolk Bancorp (NASDAQ:…...

The role of external auditors in detecting financial statement fraud

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A recent report by the Anti-Fraud Collaboration reinforces the key role that external auditors play when it comes to detecting financial statement fraud. The report, “Closing the Expectation Gap in Deterring and Detecting Financial Statement Fraud: A Roundtable Summary,” also provided a reminder of the importance of professional skepticism by…...

How my accounting firm created an industry niche

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Michael Bohinc CPA is a baseball nut and the son of a plumber, so he combined both parts of his background as he developed an industry niche focused on plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractors.  Why and how did he do this? The owner of Keeping Score…...

Community banking insider sheds light on financial crisis

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Bob Koncerak, who has nearly 30 years of experience in financial services and corporate finance, is the author of a new book that gives an insider’s perspective on Georgia’s community banking industry during the boom years up to 2007 and through the U.S. financial crisis and its aftermath. The Most…...

Sageworks expert leads stress testing webinar for ICBA

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Mike Lubansky, director of consulting services at Sageworks, will lead a webinar on stress testing hosted by the Independent Community Bankers of America on Sept. 10. Lubansky, who has been a featured speaker for audiences of both regulatory agencies and financial institutions on matters pertaining to banking, will review recent…...

Top 5 ways accountants can use industry data

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Many accounting firms tout their “excellent customer service” as what sets them apart from competitors, but if everyone is bragging about the same thing, are they truly unique? To stand out, your firm needs a clear differentiator. Industry data can provide insight and services that can distinguish your practice.  Here are the…...

How to win your next new accounting client

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Your firm may be successful today, but everyone knows that success can be fleeting unless you’re continuously thinking ahead to identify and win the next client. The key to developing a strategy for winning new clients is to answer these key questions: Why? Who? What? How? Here, Peter Brown, senior…...

Financial institution examiners scrutinize asset quality, loan admin

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Safety and soundness examinations are some of the most important events in the life of a bank, thrift or credit union. Financial institutions spend months preparing for the exams, trying to anticipate examination concentrations and avert problems.  Sageworks, a financial information company that provides risk management solutions to financial institutions,…...

What are analytical procedures and when are they used?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Analytical procedures are used by accountants in multiple levels of service, and they are critical to evaluating financial data and variations that occur in financial data. But selecting and documenting analytical procedures are subjective processes, so the area of analytical procedures is one that can cause frustration for accountants. Analytical…...

Did you raise your audit fees last year?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Sageworks has a real-time application that benchmarks accounting industry pricing, and it shows that audit-billing rates for sole proprietors, partners, managers and senior accountants range from $91 an hour to $224 an hour. Meanwhile, a recent survey of financial executives showed that private companies on average experienced minor increases in…...

Stress testing guidance for mid-sized banks

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Bank regulators are giving mid-sized banks ($10 billion to $50 billion in assets) additional guidance and another opportunity to provide feedback on the process of stress testing that these banks must begin this fall. The FDIC, Federal Reserve and the OCC recently issued proposed supervisory guidance on implementing the stress…...

Risk management and compliance spending rising – survey

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

More financial institutions are boosting spending on risk management and compliance than a few years ago, but how firms are spending also varies by size of firm, according to a new survey by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL). About two-thirds of financial institutions surveyed reported higher spending on risk management…...

Dodd-Frank’s 3-year anniversary

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

It’s been three years since President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, so there have been a number of articles and speeches discussing the changes made so far and describing what’s to come. In remarks last week at a conference hosted by CNBC, Treasury Secretary…...

Are commercial construction lending opportunities a good fit?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

With commercial real estate construction activity increasing, financial institutions may have the potential to gain income and drive profits from participating in lending tied to that growth. But CEIS Review recommends that before jumping in on commercial construction lending, institutions looking to manage risk should examine three aspects of their capabilities: Regulatory, expertise…...

Pricing your services? Ask these 10 questions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Whether your accounting firm has adopted value pricing or follows traditional time-based billing practices, the question of how much to charge clients remains a top practice-management topic. If your firm is entering a new market, considering adding staff or other operating costs, or simply reviewing pricing relative to competitors, you’re…...

5 Traits of the ideal credit manager

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Credit Today, a website providing information to trade credit professionals, recently featured a list of attributes for the “ideal” credit manager. While some of them were geared specifically to collections professionals, many of these traits are important for lenders, credit analysts and other credit staff at financial institutions as well.…...

Confidence in U.S. banks on the upswing

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Americans’ confidence in U.S. banks has shown the first increase in years, according to a recent survey by Gallup. The share of respondents saying they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in banks increased to 26 percent from a record low of 21 percent a year…...

After the closing: A recipe for sound loan administration

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Any cook knows you can have the finest ingredients for a delicious pie, but if you bake the dish without monitoring it in the oven, you could end up with a burned mess. The same is true with a credit union’s member business loan portfolio. Solid underwriting and sound documentation…...

A good time to be an accountant?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

CPA firms hired a record 40,350 new accounting graduates last year, and hiring demand continues to remain strong, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs, or AICPA. The previous hiring peak recorded by the survey on supply and demand trends in accounting was in 2007, before…...

Accounting jobs tough to fill, survey says

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Accounting and finance jobs are some of the hardest to fill, according to a recent survey by ManpowerGroup.  The workforce solutions company surveyed more than 1,000 employers and found that 39 percent of U.S. employers are having a tough time finding the right staff with the right skills. The top…...

Regulatory changes: Top of mind for bankers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Spending a lot of time at your financial institution on regulatory issues? You’re not alone. A recent survey of bank executives by KPMG LLP found that regulatory issues are top of mind for many in the industry. Thirty-five percent of respondents expect bank management to spend most of its time…...

4 ‘Exceptional’ ways to improve loan administration: Tracking documentation exceptions

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Federal bank and credit union examiners say one element that should be part of any loan portfolio management process is a solid system for tracking exceptions. Tracking deviations from the loan policy and underwriting standards is crucial. But often, it’s analyzing and controlling exceptions related to documentation that can alert…...

Staff roles and responsibilities in relationship-based banking

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Relationship-based banking, often desired by customers, can only be adopted by financial institutions alongside appropriate credit risk management processes. Defining staff roles and responsibilities, one of the components of risk management for institutions embracing relationship-based banking, is described in this post. By Mary Ellen Biery, Research Specialist, Sageworks Outlining in…...

3 Keys to effective loan administration

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

With apologies to famed sportscaster Dan Patrick, you can’t stop all bad loans; you can only hope to contain them. Regulators have long recognized that the initial credit-granting process is a bank’s first defense against credit risk. But they’ve also highlighted the importance of adequate loan administration in managing credit…...

Friday is deadline to comment on FASB’s CECL model

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. Looking for a quick review of FASB’s proposed credit loss model (Subtopic 525-15)?  As the May 31 deadline nears for commenting on the CECL (current expected credit losses) model,…...

CPAs are top compliance resources

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As regulations have increased, businesses are less confident in their ability to manage compliance, a top executive with ADP’s small business services unit said recently. For CPAs, that can mean an opportunity to deepen client relationships and provide additional services related to tracking and meeting various regulations.  Certified Public Accountants…...

Relationship-based banking: Outlining credit risk metrics

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

By Mary Ellen Biery, Research Specialist, Sageworks It can be difficult for financial institutions to create a relationship-based banking environment with customers while also protecting against credit risk and potential drains on profitability. The key is to utilize objective measures of credit risk and to build expectations among customers as…...

4 Reasons private companies matter

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Wall Street may get the headlines, but did you know that of the 27 million businesses in the U.S., less than 1 percent are publicly traded on the major exchanges? The rest are privately held, and these private companies represent a vital segment of the U.S. economy. Few private firms…...

FDIC officials: CECL implementation timeline unclear

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

FDIC officials this week encouraged financial institutions to provide feedback by May 31 to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on the board’s proposed new model for accounting for credit losses. During a teleconference on Thursday, officials in the FDIC’s Division of Risk Management Supervision described some key differences between…...

FDIC to discuss CECL model

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. With only a few weeks left to comment on FASB’s proposed new model for accounting for credit losses (commonly known as the CECL model), the FDIC is holding an…...

CEIS: Credit quality at banks improving

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Credit quality continues to improve for most banks, according to the new 2012 Q4 Client Survey conducted by CEIS Review. The overall level of criticized and classified loans has declined and in general, non-accruals have not been increasing further, CEIS said in its report. The pace of new loan growth…...

Relationship-based banking benefits institutions & their clients

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

While it may be more desired by customers, relationship-based banking can only be adopted alongside appropriate credit risk management processes. However, it is important to first understand what relationship-based lending is and how both financial institutions and customers can benefit. Relationship-based lending can be defined as financial institutions using personal…...

The Private Company Outlook: Sageworks, ADP discuss recent trends

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately held companies continue to have strong fundamental performance in general, but hiring by them remains weak, especially considering how much economic activity has occurred since the recession, Sageworks Chairman Brian Hamilton said Tuesday. “There’s no question the economy is perking along, but [the weak hiring] is one thing we…...

Why is stress testing important?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The thesis from regulatory bodies these days is that every bank needs to stress test their loan portfolio, but many financial institutions continue to seek guidance on what stress testing is and why it’s important. Stress testing is a best practice for banks that demonstrate proactive and progressive improvement, according…...

Where to find your next new client

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Successful CPA firms know that while business may be great today, there’s no guarantee for tomorrow. That’s why it’s important that you’re constantly thinking ahead – constantly considering where you’ll find your next clients and which industries may be the most fruitful for growing your business. Sageworks recently provided some…...

What are financial institutions saying about FASB’s CECL model?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. FASB recently extended to May 31 the comment period on its proposed new model (commonly known as the CECL model) for accounting for credit losses, but some financial industry…...

4 Methods of stress testing

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

By Mary Ellen Biery, Sageworks The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s October 2012 Supervisory Guidance and other guidance notes that an institution can use a variety of methods of stress testing to evaluate loan portfolio risk and to measure the potential impact on earnings and capital based on…...

Banking stress tests’ strategic benefits

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

For many banks, stress testing is a best practice and something they should be progressively implementing in a structured manner, Mike Lubansky, Sageworks director of consulting said. That way, they can make the most out of the process.   “Financial institutions may be trying to do this to satisfy the…...

New call report Schedule RI-C due April 30

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Financial institutions with at least $1 billion in assets must include a new report with their quarterly call reports due to the FDIC on April 30. The FDIC recently reminded institutions that they must include the new form, Schedule RI-C, Disaggregated Data on the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses…...

Traditional methods for predicting default

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Exposure to credit risk is widely recognized as the leading source of problems in financial institutions, and much regulatory and industry attention has focused on how credit risk contributed to the financial crisis and how investors, customers and taxpayers can be protected against future losses. Credit risk models like a…...

Stress testing regulations you should know

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Financial institutions make tough lending choices that can help determine which clients get the funding they need to succeed—they act as an important arbiter. At the same time, financial institutions of all sizes are facing an increased push by federal regulators to go beyond historical risk-management efforts. Here is a…...

Bank-card delinquencies fall in 4Q

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Bank-issued credit-card delinquencies fell to an 18-year low in the fourth quarter, the American Bankers Association reported this week. Bank-card delinquencies fell to 2.47 percent of all accounts from 2.75 percent, the lowest level since third quarter 1994 and below the 15-year average of 3.87 percent, the ABA said. Credit-card…...

Who should be stress testing?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Last fall, U.S. community banks received much-needed regulatory clarity on how to stress test their portfolios or examine the stability and soundness of their loan portfolios in tougher times. This was good news for management at these banks as their biggest hurdle had been the lack of transparency from regulators…...

FASB issues FAQs on CECL model

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

**The FASB issued the final CECL standard on June 16, 2016. For up-to-date information and resources, access the updated CECL Prep Kit. Responding to uncertainty about the proposed new model (commonly known as the CECL model) for accounting for credit losses, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) this week issued answers…...

Need a Bank Loan? Fuhgeddaboutit!

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Guest post by John Calia CEO Coach, Vistage Chair and Partner, The McCracken Alliance Well, you’ve survived the Great Recession and your outlook isn’t quite as glum as it once was.  The economy doesn’t look great but it doesn’t look like it’s going to get worse right now.  Maybe –…...

Four companies that need a credit check

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

More than three years after the official end to the recession, U.S. businesses are recovering but not recovered.  Uncertainty remains the mood of the day, with surveys showing that a sizable portion of private companies are worried that a potential lack of demand is a barrier to growth. Companies must…...

Commercial lending bears watching

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Will the current growth in loans to businesses be good for the business of banks in the long run? As financial institutions diversify their loan portfolios with increased commercial and industrial (C&I) loans, qualified business borrowers may be finding the climate advantageous. But regulators and banking risk management experts are…...

Private companies ‘in pretty good shape’

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As the deadline for averting major government spending cuts came and went, several reports noted the so-called sequester could result in cuts to U.S. Small Business Administration loan guarantees for businesses. On the bright side heading into the sequester, data from Sageworks, a financial information company, shows that private companies…...

Private automobile dealers’ margins thin vs. other industries

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. auto dealers recently reiterated earlier complaints they had over manufacturer requirements to upgrade their showrooms and other facilities, and new financial data from Sageworks Inc., a financial information company, may shed some light on their concerns. Privately held auto dealers have historically operated with narrower margins than do other…...

Spotlight on manufacturing trends

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Manufacturing has been a relative bright spot in the economy since the recession, and President Obama in his annual address earlier this month called for new efforts to boost manufacturing. So what is the “State of the Union” for privately held manufacturing companies? After all, nearly all employer firms in…...

Private companies see higher per-worker sales, profits

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

By one measure, private-company employees in the U.S. are the most efficient they’ve been in years, according to new data from Sageworks, Inc., a financial information company. Preliminary estimates for 2012 show that U.S. companies generated the highest levels of sales per employee and profit per employee in years. But…...

Trust in banks, financial services improves but still low

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

A greater percentage of Americans trust banks and financial services firms than they did in 2011, but the industries remain the least trusted among all industries, according to a recent survey. Public relations agency Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer found that trust in banking in the U.S. has doubled from its…...

Private-company credit risk is lower

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Private U.S. companies have a slightly lower risk of defaulting this year than a year ago, according to a new financial statement analysis by Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. On average, the probability that a private company would default in the next year was 4.40 percent, based on data…...

Private residential construction company revenues up

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Real residential fixed investment, up 15.3 percent in the fourth quarter, was a bright spot in this week’s initial report on fourth-quarter GDP, which surprised economy watchers by contracting 0.1 percent from the third quarter. And the growth in Americans’ spending on housing was consistent with “mild but meaningful” revenue…...

On list of slowest-growing industries, housing-related businesses find a home

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Four of the 10 slowest-growing industries over the last 12 months were tied to the housing market, according to preliminary estimates released recently by Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. That’s not surprising, considering housing has continued to claw its way back from the depths of the housing bubble’s burst,…...

Private companies are in better shape to borrow

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The Federal Reserve’s latest “Beige Book” report on economic activity indicated that a third of the 12 Fed districts are seeing stronger loan demand from consumers and businesses. And recent data from Sageworks, a financial information company, shows that privately held companies have improved two financial metrics that are often…...

Bank examiners eye underwriting standards

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  Federal bank examiners are closely monitoring whether banks and thrifts are loosening underwriting standards or moving into unfamiliar geographic areas or product lines, the Comptroller of the Currency said recently. In a speech to the California Bankers Association earlier this month, Comptroller Thomas Curry said the OCC sees “slippage…...

Watch these fast-growing industries in 2013

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Sageworks, a financial information company, is out with a list of fast-growing industries that bear watching in 2013. A financial statement analysis of privately held companies in Sageworks’ database shows that over the last 12 months, many of the fastest growing industries are tied to manufacturing and construction. That’s not…...

Does “Fiscal Cliff” deal address businesses’ concerns?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Congress has approved a temporary fix for at least part of the “Fiscal Cliff,” but with many questions remaining about future legislative action, it’s unclear whether it will be enough to address concerns of many U.S. business owners.  In fact, a recent survey by Sageworks, a financial information company, found…...

Private companies boost margins despite modest inflation

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Private companies in the U.S. this year are more profitable now than at any point in the last decade despite slowing sales growth, according to a preliminary analysis of data from Sageworks. Their increasing profitability is impressive given the modest inflation seen at the producer level in recent years, as…...

Dry cleaners’ margins improving despite tariff rulings on hangers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately held dry cleaners and launderers, which have expected anti-dumping tariffs to raise hanger costs, either aren’t seeing a major impact yet, or owners are finding ways to offset them, based on a preliminary analysis of industry data by Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. Privately held dry cleaners and…...

Smaller retailers could use a holiday boost

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Holiday shopping is off to a solid start -- good news for small retail companies, which have been experiencing weaker sales so far this year, according to preliminary data from Sageworks. A recent financial analysis by Sageworks shows that among privately held retail companies, it’s the larger stores that have…...

Housing supply chain: Loggers’ sales improve but profitability slips

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately held logging companies have experienced healthy sales increases amid encouraging signs in the U.S. housing market, but their profit margins are weakening, according to preliminary industry estimates by Sageworks. “Sales have started to grow fairly decently,” Sageworks analyst Tim McPeak said. “At the same time, net profit margin has…...

GDP, private-company trends among economy’s mixed signals

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

In the last general report card on the economy before the Nov. 6 election, the Commerce Department recently reported that gross domestic product increased 2 percent during the third quarter, showing some improvement from the second quarter. Still, the report was consistent with some of the mixed signals affecting privately…...

Accounting pros: Clients can do more to check creditworthiness

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Businesses can do more to protect themselves against credit risks, accounting professionals said in a recent survey by Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. Sixty-five percent of accounting professionals responding to the online survey said business clients don’t do enough before extending credit, while 35 percent said clients sufficiently ensure…...

Gas prices higher, but station-owner profits slim

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

High gasoline prices got you down? Gasoline prices in California have been so high recently that some gas station owners have closed up shop rather than lose money, according to published reports. And industry data from Sageworks, a financial information company, sheds light on why things might be tough for…...

Thinly sliced supermarket margins leave little room for cost increases

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  Privately held U.S. supermarkets and grocers (NAICS 445110) have seen their already slim profit margins slowly narrow since 2010, according to data from Sageworks, a financial information company.  Preliminary estimates from a financial statement analysis of private supermarkets and grocers shows that net profit margin, on average, has gone…...

Study using Sageworks data: Private cos. out-invest publicly traded cos.

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  Privately held companies invest substantially more than do publicly traded companies matched for industry and size, according to a recent study by researchers at New York University and Harvard University that used Sageworks’ data. The findings are consistent with theories linking conservative investing to public firm executives’ worries over…...

Economic data consistent with private-company trends

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Thursday’s surprise downward revision to second-quarter GDP and the worst durable goods report since the recession were consistent with some of the trends Sageworks, a financial information company, has been seeing recently. Average annual sales growth for private companies has slowed to around 5.5 percent currently from nearly 11 percent in January…...

Drought impacts on cattle ranching continue

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced $11.8 million in additional financial and technical assistance to help livestock and crop producers reduce the impacts of drought, signaling efforts to continue helping farms and ranches hit by the moderate or worse drought conditions affecting 54 percent of the country. These…...

Retailers’ margins explain swipe-fees spat

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The National Retail Federation this week said it would go to court to block a proposed court settlement over credit-card fees. Recent data from Sageworks Inc, a financial information company, shows why some retailers might be more inclined than others to balk at the deal, which the group says doesn’t go far enough…...

How do private companies stack up against public companies?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Sageworks, a financial information company, recently released data showing that private companies’ profitability has lagged that of public companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-Stock Index through the recession and recovery. On the other hand, private companies took a less drastic hit to sales, on a percentage basis, than did…...

Restaurant industry trends are upbeat

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Sageworks recently released data on the restaurant industry, showing privately held restaurants and other eating places (NAICS code 7225) are posting nearly 8 percent sales growth, on average, over the last 12 months amid improved profitability. In fact, net profit margins have averaged 3.25 percent in the last 12 months,…...

U.S. auto dealer trends

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately owned U.S. auto dealers have continued to see double-digit sales gains over the last 12 months, growth that has outpaced other industries, according to recent data from Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. New- and used-auto dealers are in their third year of double-digit sales growth, though growth has…...

The ‘Dog Days’ for jobs

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Dog days bright and clear Indicate a happy year; But when accompanied by rain, For better times our hopes are vain - Traditional English proverb   Friday’s jobs report for July was neither decidedly sunny nor gloomy, even though stocks on Wall Street rallied to three-month highs. U.S. employers added…...

(Temporary) Help wanted, apparently – SageworksStats on Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

June unemployment in the U.S. was flat, and nearly a third of jobs added were in the temporary-help services industry, a field that has shown strong growth over the last 12 months, according to data from Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. “During the last 12 months, privately held employment…...

5 Financial metrics every business owner should know

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Is your business successful? How do you know? If you’re like most business owners, your days are filled by efforts to make your company successful. Those tasks might be focused on making a great product, generating sales, or building customer relationships. And you might be great at those things. But…...

The health care ruling’s upside for private companies

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling is reviving impassioned discussions about whether President Obama's health care law will be positive or negative for businesses, especially smaller ones.  And while those debates will continue for months or maybe years, one immediate, positive impact on owners of privately held businesses is that they…...

Private companies’ current business trends still positive – SageworksStats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

President Obama’s statement earlier this month that the private sector “is doing fine” prompted a wave of criticism, and there are certainly signs that economic confidence among consumers and businesses has weakened recently. But a new real-time measure of key financial metrics for privately held companies in the U.S. shows…...

Business booming for IT providers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Facebook’s (NYSE:FB) troubled initial public offering, as well as cautious financial outlooks by tech giants Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) in recent weeks have some traders of technology stocks worrying that the tech boom may be over.  But at least for privately held companies involved in computer systems design and…...

Companies’ cash tied up in inventory, slow payers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Later customer payments and slower moving inventory have combined to tie up private companies’ cash 16 percent longer than just three years ago, according to recent data from Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. That’s money companies don’t have in the bank to hire or buy new equipment, even though…...

Why aren’t companies hiring? Sageworks Stats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The U.S. economy’s paltry addition of 69,000 jobs in May has intensified the political finger-pointing, but the truth is that no one really knows for sure why the economy is growing yet too few jobs are being created, said Sageworks CEO Brian Hamilton.  “The jobs report is disappointing because, at…...

Private-company sales, margin growth continue – Sageworks Stats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately held U.S. companies – the millions of businesses that drive job creation and GDP –are growing sales so far this year at about the same rate as they did for all of 2011, according to new data from Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. Companies across all industries, on…...

Concerns cause private companies to delay hiring

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Private companies are too nervous about the future to ramp up hiring, according to a new Sageworks Inc. survey of accountants, bankers and other financial professionals who work closely with these firms. About 32 percent of financial professionals in the survey said their clients aren’t hiring because they are concerned…...

April unemployment ticks down to 8.1 percent

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The U.S. unemployment rate dipped in April to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent in March, but fewer-than-expected jobs were added. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the number of unemployed people was little changed at 12.5 million, and the number of long-term unemployed people in April was also…...

Avoid cash flow catastrophes: Part V – 7 tips for better forecasts

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Cash flow forecasts, the vital estimates of how much cash your business will have in order to continuing operating, are notoriously tricky because of the many variables involved. Even so, accountants and other financial experts say there are several steps you can take to improve their accuracy. 1. Be conservative.…...

Does size matter? Sales growth, margins by company size

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately held companies have a huge impact on the U.S. economy, and new data from Sageworks, a financial information company, shows that sales and margin performance through the recession and so far in the recovery has varied, depending on the size of the company. Through its cooperative data model, Sageworks…...

It wasn’t overnight, but private hotels have turned around

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately owned hotels have weathered a difficult recession and are back on a profitable path. The industry posted positive net profit margins in 2011 for the first time in three years, and sales increased about 8 percent, according to a financial statement analysis of privately owned hotels by Sageworks, a…...

Avoid cash flow catastrophes: Part IV-10 ways cash flow forecasts go wrong

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  Experts say cash flow forecasts can be tripped up by several common items that business owners and financial managers might overlook.  Generally, these can be blamed on two factors: omission or over-optimism. We’ll discuss over-optimism later, but let’s start with common items left out of cash flow forecasts that…...

Who’s hiring?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Last week's jobs report showed that fewer-than-expected positions were added in March, stoking concern that the economy isn’t growing fast enough. But several industries that have driven a lot of the hiring over the last year continued to add workers last month. Who’s been hiring, and which industries have the kind…...

Signs that business banking is back

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Business banking is back – well, mostly. Commercial lending has been growing, according to Federal Reserve data. And recent research by Sageworks, a financial information company, shows that businesses’ borrowing-related financial ratios have improved, making access to credit more likely. Based on Federal Reserve data, commercial and industrial (C&I) lending…...

Avoid cash flow catastrophes: Part III – Frequency

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  Cash flow forecast frequency: How often should you update? As with many things in finance, how often you perform or update your cash flow forecast depends on the business and your circumstances, according to Lauren Prosser, manager of advisory services at Sageworks. A retailer that sells many products of…...

19 banks stress tested, but what about the rest?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Only 19 of the nation’s roughly 7,400 commercial banks were involved earlier this year in the Federal Reserve’s test of whether the banks could weather a severe recession that included 13 percent unemployment, a 50 percent drop in stock markets and a 21 percent decline in housing prices. Customers of…...

Taking the pulse: Private nursing care centers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

from Sageworks Stats@Forbes.com Private, for-profit nursing homes and other nursing care facilities have experienced stable revenue growth and improving profitability in recent years, according to Sageworks, a financial information company. But with the federal budget battle heating up in Washington, it’s clear that proposed fresh cuts to major benefit programs…...

Avoid cash flow catastrophes: Part II

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Cash flow forecasting 101 Forecasting a business’ cash flow is critical to ensuring operations can continue without major disruptions. But one way you can tell that cash flow forecasting is a pain point for many people is the number of templates and software solutions that are available online.  Nevertheless, David…...

Key cost metrics for hot industries

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Last year, three out of every 1,000 American adults chose to start their own businesses, according to a study out this month by the Kauffman Foundation. And while that’s slightly below the entrepreneurship rate of 2010, it’s still among the highest levels of entrepreneurship over the past 16 years – a…...

Better economy, better hair?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

John Paul DeJoria, a billionaire who co-founded the Paul Mitchell hair care company and the Patron tequila brand, recently called beauty salons the best economic indicator. In an interview with Business Insider, DeJoria said that during a downturn, customers will stretch their salon visits to eight weeks, but will resume a schedule…...

Avoid cash flow catastrophes: Improve your forecasts

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Remember Borders books? Or Circuit City? How about Pan Am Airlines? Each of these once-highflying brands is now gone or radically changed because their companies eventually ran out of cash to pay bills. But it’s not just big companies with declining sales that run into problems with cash flow. Talk…...

5 Reasons to improve your cash flow forecasting

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

At its most basic level, cash flow forecasting helps a business survive. By knowing exactly what cash you have coming in and going out and when those transfers occur, you ensure you have enough cash to continue operating from day to day. But there are other, often related, reasons to…...

Positive economic signs, but confidence lags

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Private companies, those millions of businesses that drive job creation and the U.S. GDP, are seeing margins and profits that are higher than they were before the recession, as Sageworks data has shown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average a week ago had its highest close since late 2007.  But as…...

More like a lamb than a lion, but economy’s improving

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As March begins, the U.S. economy seems to be running more like a lamb than a lion, despite last week's upward revision of fourth-quarter GDP. Most economists expect slower growth in the current and coming quarters than the 3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter (vs. an earlier estimate…...

Machinery gets economic gears moving – Sageworks Stats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The share of small-business owners planning to boost spending on machinery, equipment and other physical capital is the highest in four years and has improved since October, a recent survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup found. That’s good news considering the role business investment has played so far in rebuilding…...

Wholesalers balance inventory with sales

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. businesses are keeping their inventories in line with demand, with wholesalers, in particular, balancing their stockpiles from manufacturers and their sales to retailers, according to data from Sageworks Inc., a financial information company. Balancing inventories is key to managing profitability and to avoiding fresh production cutbacks if demand continues…...

Do I need business interruption insurance? A two-step decision

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Natural disasters in 2011 caused a record $350 billion in damages –the equivalent of wiping out the entire market value of General Electric (GE), Ford Motor Co. (F), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) combined. But on top of the insured property losses, companies affected by the Midwest…...

Private grocers’ margins unspoiled by higher food prices

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Higher food prices couldn’t spoil the profit margins of privately held grocers and convenience stores in 2011. That’s good news, considering the USDA projects continued, albeit moderating, food inflation this year. New data from Sageworks, a financial information company, shows that private companies in the grocery and convenience stores industry…...

Fumbling financials (continued)-Avoiding the pitfalls of presenting numbers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Part IV. Five tips for a financial presentation Last week, we continued the topic of how to present financial information to various audiences by addressing the importance of providing perspective and drawing connections between the numbers you provide.  In earlier posts, we reviewed keeping your data simple and focused, and…...

Get your money faster: Four steps to minimize late payments

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Imagine having more than 1 out of every 3 dollars in your business tied up and inaccessible. That’s money you can’t use to advertise, to develop new products and services, or to hire employees. For many business owners, that scenario is a day-to-day reality as they sit with 35 percent…...

Jobs report tracks with private-company trends

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

January’s jobs report on Friday showed widespread employment growth in the private sector, a trend that’s consistent with improved revenue and profit trends that financial information company Sageworks Inc. has seen among private companies over the past 18 months. The Labor Department said U.S. unemployment fell to 8.3 percent in…...

Residential construction companies built ’11 sales – Sageworks Stats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As recent economic reports have indicated, residential construction ended 2011 on a positive note, according to a new review of private company data by Sageworks. The data was recently published on Forbes.com. Private residential construction companies (NAICS code 2361) tallied a 5.3 percent increase in sales in 2011, according to…...

Fumbling financials (continued) – Avoiding the pitfalls of presenting numbers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Part II. Meaningless minutiae Last week, we began the topic of how to present financial information to various audiences by discussing the importance of keeping the data you use simple and focused. Remember that a presentation is about conveying information, not just numbers. Whether you’re seeking a bank loan, board…...

Is access to credit improving for businesses?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Results of the Federal Reserve’s December survey of loan officers could be released today, perhaps providing insight as to whether banks have eased standards on commercial and industrial loans recently. President Obama in his State of the Union address last week urged Congress to help “tear down regulations that prevent…...

Fumbling financials: How to avoid the pitfalls of presenting numbers

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Part I: Numb from numbers Plato said, “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”  But the reality of business is that numbers are the starting point for most decisions.  Financial information is typically the central building block for seeking a bank loan to start or expand…...

Companies’ sights on controlling costs

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Private companies in the U.S. have kept a tight rein on overhead expenses, even as sales have risen, an analysis of companies’ financial statements by Sageworks shows.  Meanwhile, recent layoff announcements and a jump in jobless claims for the first week of January suggest companies are continuing efforts to control…...

What if my bank fails?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Nearly twice a week last year on average, banking regulators closed a bank deemed unable to meet obligations to depositors and others. And while the number of bank failures was down from a year earlier, (92 vs. 154), that’s little consolation if you’re a business owner caught up in your…...

Trucking sales have picked up

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

While other parts of the U.S. economy stagger along the road to recovery, the trucking industry is cruising along, performing better than the economy at large. Sales at privately owned general freight and specialized freight trucking companies are up  more than 14 percent over the last 12 months, according to…...

Private companies paying bills later – Sageworks Stats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. companies continued to guard their cash flows despite increasing sales in 2011, reflecting continued uncertainty in the economic recovery and slower paying customers. Privately held businesses, which account for up to 70 percent of GDP and generate 80 percent of new jobs, stretched their average time for making payments to…...

What hiring will 2012 bring?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

First-time claims for unemployment benefits are at their lowest level in more than three years, according to the Labor Department’s most recent four-week average of initial jobless claims. But jobs remain the number one focus of most Americans and candidates running for president, so each Thursday’s update on employment is…...

Are things getting better for small business?

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

After months of understandable pessimism, small business owners caught a bit of holiday-time cheer. Big department, chain and apparel stores will report December sales results on Thursday. But by most measures, recent retail sales have been better than analysts expected going into the 2011 holiday season. Two recent surveys show…...

Slow payments hit some construction firms – Sageworks Stats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

As if weak construction demand isn’t tough enough, it seems contractors who actually find work these days must wait longer to get paid, according to a financial statement analysis by Sageworks Inc. Sageworks analyzed accounts receivable days for privately held companies in various construction-related industries, including those tied to early-stage…...

Private auto dealers wrap up growth year – Sageworks Stats on Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Auto sales should keep on trucking into 2012, according to some industry experts. And that’s good news for privately owned auto dealers, which are in their second year of double-digit sales growth, according to an analysis of financial statements by Sageworks Inc. Edmunds.com, a car-shopping website, earlier this month said…...

The customer knows best: Juice your sales with customer insight

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Market research, customer insight – they both mean tapping into a business’s greatest resource: its customer base. Private U.S. businesses across all industries have seen an average sales increase of about 6 to 7 percent so far this year, according to a financial statement analysis by Sageworks Inc. But many…...

Five legal tips for a happy new year

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The IRS audits a higher percentage of businesses with assets below $50 million than businesses above that level, according to data from Syracuse University.  With that in mind, and with 2012 fast approaching, now’s a good time for small businesses to consider an end-of-year legal review to pinpoint and improve areas…...

Advertising, public relations agencies grow – Sageworks Stats @ Forbes.com

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

  U.S. ad spending growth might be looking tepid this year and next, but private companies in the advertising services business are experiencing their second year of double-digit sales growth, according to an analysis of financial statements by Sageworks Inc. Ad agencies, public relations agencies, media buyers and other businesses…...

Forbes – Sageworks Stats: Where the jobs are

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

November’s job report Friday held positive news in the lower unemployment rate (to 8.6 percent from 9 percent last month), even though employers added fewer workers to their payrolls than had been forecast, and average hourly earnings ticked down by 0.1 percent. In all, the U.S. Labor Department’s news had…...

Holiday retail sales off to solid start

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Online retail sales today are expected to set a record after Black Friday weekend sales surpassed even the rosiest outlooks and showed shoppers turned out and spent in record numbers. Market research firm ShopperTrak reported Black Friday sales jumped 6.6 percent from a year earlier to a record $11.4 billion…...

3Q GDP revised downward; Small employers name growth impediments

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The U.S. economy grew a bit more slowly in the third quarter than previously estimated as businesses cut inventories, which could mean they’ll boost production next year if consumer spending stays on track. Meanwhile, a new survey of small employers found that uncertainty and lack of market demand are the…...

Hiring remained chilly in October

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

The latest signs of uncertainty in the U.S. hiring outlook came Friday as unemployment was largely unchanged in October and the addition of 80,000 jobs failed to keep up with adult population growth. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate dipped to 9.0 percent from 9.1 percent in September. Jobs…...

Risky business- Protecting your business with risk management

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Recent service outages for Sony Corp.’s (NYSE: SNE) PlaystationNetwork and for Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) Blackberry services highlight major risks companies face when it comes to their businesses. Both events have created tumult in the companies’ day-to-day operations and in their customer relations. While many business owners might think…...

Five steps to take now to capture the most holiday sales

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

It’s Black Friday, and the crowds are lined up outside your store, just as you’d hoped. They’ve shrugged off the economic worries that dominate the news every day and just for a few days, are ready to spend.  But wait – eager shoppers are now getting frustrated because your checkout…...

Where to look for jobs: profitable industries may be a clue

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

With job growth so weak, a common question among people without jobs and even some who are currently employed is, “Where will the jobs be tomorrow?” One way to answer that question is to examine which industries are the most profitable, as money-making fields are likely to be attractive to…...

As Wall Street Kicks Off 3Q Reports, Main Street Still Kicking

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Alcoa this afternoon unofficially kicks off the third-quarter earnings reports for publicly traded companies, and investors no doubt await word on how demand across the U.S. economy is holding up. With talk of a double-dip recession flaring up recently and the all-important holiday retail season on the horizon, employers and suppliers…...

High gold prices took the shine off jewelry stores’ margins

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

All that glitters is not gold in jewelry retailing. Despite a nearly 11% drop this month, gold prices are more than five times 2002 levels. But net profit margins among privately owned jewelry stores (NAICS 44831) are actually lower than in 2002, according to an analysis of financial statements by…...

As auto sales improve, parts makers posting strong growth

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Privately owned motor-vehicle parts manufacturers in the U.S. have posted one of the strongest sales growth rates among all U.S. industries in the past 12 months, according to a new analysis of financial statements by Sageworks, a financial information company. Motor-vehicle parts manufacturers have posted nearly 22 percent sales growth…...

Forbes: Clues in capital spending

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

U.S. business leaders are more tightfisted than earlier this year, worrying some folks that a major growth driver of the shaky U.S. economy will screech to a halt if companies hoard cash instead of spending it on new plants, equipment and technology. But don’t push the “double-dip recession” panic button…...

Higher grocery prices ahead, though profits won’t necessarily follow

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

Grocery prices are expected to increase 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest food-price forecast shows. But higher prices aren’t showing up in the bottom lines of private grocers, which saw slower profit growth last year and have seen a decline in profits this…...

IMF, Manufacturers’ Gloomier Outlooks Support Financial Professionals’ View

Mary Ellen Biery
Posted by Mary Ellen Biery

More pessimistic outlooks by The International Monetary Fund and the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI this week reinforce what financial professionals have been telling Sageworks in recent weeks: That most of them expect the economy to be about the same or worse a year from now. The IMF in its World Economic Outlook on…...