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How to manage accounts when dealing with multiple businesses

Managing accounts for multiple business entities can be a complex and time-consuming role. However, it is frequently necessary in ambitious, fast-growing companies. That’s because the leadership team may need separate entities to manage property, investment or other asset portfolios, or they’ve acquired other companies to form a multi-entity group. Two of the main benefits of running multiple businesses are:

Maintain a steady cash flow across the businesses

Running multiple businesses can help protect against seasonal or cyclical fluctuations in demand. Having a single central accountancy function, using a fully integrated system for all entities, makes it easier to manage cash flow across the group.

Spread overheads to reduce costs

To run a multi-entity business effectively, you’ll want to make the most of any economies of scale. You may have ten businesses or entities, but you probably don’t need ten IT departments, HR consultants or marketing agencies. You can also use the same accounting software across the multiple businesses.

This can help you to manage the accounts as efficiently as possible, strengthen collaboration between the businesses and ensure your reporting meets the needs of all stakeholders. Here are three ways to make managing the accounts of multiple businesses easier and more effective.

Try automated accounting processes

Exactly how you manage the accounts will depend on the nature and structure of your multi-entity business. However, there are some common challenges. Here are some of the many day-to-day accounting tasks that automated solutions  can make easier and more efficient:

  • Accounts Payable: go paperless with advanced document scanning for sales and purchase invoices  
  • Accounts Receivable: run your sales ledger in the Cloud to gain visibility and automate quotes, invoices, statements and sales reports
  • VAT: submit single entity and group VAT returns through MTD
  • Consolidated month-end (including multi-currency calculations): consolidated financial management software can enable accurate and timely consolidated month-end closes for all for all the business entities
  • Management reporting: financial consolidation software enables finance teams to produce multi company management reports in real time, eliminating errors, providing useful business insights and replacing complex spreadsheets
  • Cash flow forecasting and other scenario planning: managers of multiple businesses need a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of the financial position of each entity. Forecasting software also helps you with wider scenario planning and answering all those ‘what if’ questions about the future direction and viability of your multiple businesses. 

Keep up to date with technology

Modern technology is a huge help when managing the accounts for multiple businesses. And there are always new digital tools and solutions being developed to help make processes even easier and more efficient. Cloud accounting software enables your finance teams to work from anywhere they can get an internet connection; that’s great if they’re working across multiple sites, travelling frequently or you’ve instigated a remote or hybrid working policy.

Being on the right Cloud-based finance system can also help future-proof your finance function. For example, you won’t have to worry about system maintenance, security or upgrades; that will all be done automatically by your software provider.  It can feel overwhelming trying to keep up-to-date with all the latest technology developments but, if you choose a finance system with an open API structure, you can easily integrate your accounting software with your current systems and other platforms or apps you might choose to add in the future.

Find out more about some of the technology that can be integrated with AccountsIQ.

 

Ensure transparency for all stakeholders

Modern businesses need to make data-informed decisions, fast. To do this, leadership teams need quick and easy access to accurate, credible company financial data they can trust. Cloud accounting platforms, such as AccountsIQ, provide advanced accounting and reporting tailored to the needs of individual companies, departments or external stakeholders.

Different stakeholders may demand real-time metrics on consolidated or single-entity company performance. They may also need reports on KPIs by location, cost centre, department or product line. Ensuring those financial reports are available to everyone – from the C-suite to operational teams - in a user-friendly format goes a long way to building trust and credibility across the business.