Different types of companies face different challenges when it comes to cash flow and fiscal management. Services that address these challenges have elements that cross over all areas in the business (listen to our podcast discussing the 8 aspects that impact all businesses here) but there are unique components and key tendencies for each company type based on how it is operating. These are result of tax laws, the ways the company generates revenue, and the strategic purpose of the organization.
Cash flow and fiscal management services are a major component to the Advisory work that is changing the accountancy landscape. So we want to better understand how different strategic purposes of companies affect the way advisors address cash flow and fiscal management.
There are seven basic private sectors in most national economies:
- Discreet Manufacturing
- Process Manufacturing
- Banking and Financial Services
Discreet Manufacturing is made up of companies that create inventory by assembling components to build a finished product. For example, a watch maker would assemble the springs, gears, face plates, crystal covers, and straps to build a finished masterpiece. They would not be crafting these components by formulating the metallurgy for the springs, creating the metal, and then extruding the springs. Most car manufacturers are primarily Discreet in their building of cars (assembling the components from a variety of manufacturers), with a smaller level of Process Manufacturing (e.g., shaping the body styles from unformed materials).
The key cash flow and fiscal management factors for Discreet Manufacturers are:
- Efficiency (time to manufacture) in the assembly process
- Inventory Control (time until the sale, level of reserves)
- Pricing (to optimize margin against inventory control)
- Depreciation and equipment maintenance/replacement
Listen to our podcast episode on Fiscal Management of Discreet Manufacturing here.
I separate Discreet from Process Manufactures as their underlying fiscal management needs are different. Process Manufacturing involves taking raw materials and creating products out of them. This would include aluminum and steel manufacturers, tool and die shops, and food companies. Consider a vineyard. Their end product is wine, but the process starts from growing and harvesting grapes to the steps involved in creating the wine, putting it into bottles, and aging the wine until it is ready for selling.
The key fiscal management factors in Process Manufacturing vary by the type of company. A “tool and die shop” generally only builds under a custom order; for them, pricing and speed of delivery impact cash flow. A vineyard also faces some challenges in cash flow due to the aging of the wine, but there are also balance sheet issues: What asset value do you place on the wine while it is aging? Most accounting software does not account for this, and the time to market may mean going through several growing cycles while the wine is being “perfected.” Most Process Manufacturers need help with long-term cashflow forecasting.
Agriculture is a challenging sector. Larger corporate farms have sophisticated methods of managing crops, livestock, and dairy cows. Leveraging this against future pricing usually means there is little to provide in fiscal management services from an accounting professional. Smaller farms are a different story; for them, cash flow forecasting is important. To increase valuation for succession, they must build a succession plan.
Energy companies are highly regulated. They also face a variety of government subsidies based on the type of energy company they are. For example, alternative energy companies, such as solar or wind powered energy, can receive significant subsidies and tax advantages.
Tech companies are all about innovation. Their primary concerns revolve around funding and capital for growth once the R&D needs are met. Cash flow forecasting and “What if?” scenario building are their largest fiscal management challenges.
Banking and Financial Services
This is a large grouping and vary in fiscal management needs based on size (the largest tend to manage their needs internally), and location (there are greater capital needs in certain countries based on banking and regulatory policy). Smaller organizations, such as personal investment advisors, require help in building recurring revenue models along with defining and fulfilling differentiation and competitive advantage. Smaller organizations also need help in succession planning and increasing valuation.
This is the largest sector in terms of number of companies. This runs the gamut from restaurants to retail, from housekeepers to plumbers, and includes franchise owners. General contractors, the trades, architects, and convenience stores also fall into this category. This is also the group that has the highest and broadest needs for help with cash flow and fiscal management. This runs all the way from understanding the company’s P&L and balance sheets, to budgeting, business planning, cash flow forecasting, and scenario creations. Succession planning is the most important element; which increasing valuation is always an underlying objective. Most accounting professionals’ business clients tend to fall into this category. The reason for the strong need for fiscal management? The companies tend not to be large enough to afford Chief Financial Officers that multinational corporations have for cash flow and fiscal management. Yet these companies still have the same needs for financial stability, growth, profitability, capital for growth, and succession planning.
While this is a high-level overview of the nuances in the seven private sectors of business, it gives the opportunity to think deeper into how you, as an advisor, can provide help your clients might not even know they need. These services help your clients thrive, and help you build and strengthen lifetime relationship with your business clients.