When first contacting Accounting Girl to assist with its finances, the firm schedules an initial meeting to review the potential scope of the relationship and work. Accounting Girl may quote a flat fee for onboarding, depending on the firm’s financial complexity. Then, as the relationship continues, they charge a percentage of revenue as their ongoing fee.
During the onboarding process, Accounting Girl will migrate the firm to QuickBooks online. Then, if necessary, they rebuild existing accounts efficiently and appropriately. This allows the virtual CFO to access firm accounts through the online portal, which obviates the need to send files over the internet or use alternative programs to communicate. (So long as everyone uses responsible password management and 2FA, this should be reasonably secure). The firm can always see what Accounting Girl is doing, and the books stay appropriately up-to-date.
After the initial setup, they’ll even dig into the accounting and billing in the firm’s Law Practice Management Software. Although experience indicates that they can likely work in any LPMS, employees have specific knowledge of Clio, MyCase, Cosmolex, PracticePanther, and a few others. After all, this is what one expects from an internal accounting department. A virtual CFO should be no different.
In addition to tracking books and accounts, Accounting Girl can also help with financial planning, budgeting, and monitoring things like KPIs. Here, the firm benefits from Accounting Girl’s experience in future financial planning, including upcoming hiring situations, office expansion, and even retirement.
Benefits of a Virtual CFO
Generally, the more hands-off an attorney is in this relationship, the more beneficial to all, which seems counterintuitive. Lawyers typically like to have their hands in every aspect of the business. But, occasionally—actually, more often than not—it’s better to let experts handle what they do best.
Outsourcing the accounting department allows a firm to hire for experience rather than convenience, location, or something even less related to capability. Although Accounting Girl doesn’t solely work with attorneys, legal makes up most of what they do. This means they’re well versed in lawyer trust accounting and the accompanying ethical obligations. So, a firm can feel confident leaving accounting in their hands.
However, the firm will never be totally disengaged—that’s how lawyers lose their licenses. Even with a virtual CFO creating all client bills, the office (hopefully a managing attorney) will still be expected to review what Accounting Girl sends and push them out the door. The firm retains a degree of direct oversight and the vital direct relationship with its clients.
How Accounting Girl is Different
The stand-out difference between Accounting Girl and other outsourced accounting firms is the three-way reconciliation they do. They connect with the firm’s online bank account, QuickBooks account, and LPMS ensure firm financials are correct each month.
Importantly, as one would expect from any CFO, they aren’t just in the accounts at the beginning and the end of each month. Generally, someone from Accounting Girl connects with the firm’s accounts daily. This means no one loses time waiting for someone to get the books straight before firm personnel can run reports, confidently create bills, or run-down accounts receivable. But, in reality, firm members won’t have to do that either; that’s what the virtual CFO is for.
Who Accounting Girl is For
For the most part, anyone with enough business to justify hiring a bookkeeper should consider Accounting Girl. Although it is important to note, they aren’t bookkeepers. Accounting Girl provides a whole lot more.
Essentially, Accounting Girl is a virtual, part-time accounting department that interacts with the firm’s accounts daily. They refer to themselves as a “virtual CFO.” And, this virtual CFO can help leadership set up, plan, and run a profit-first law firm.
Keep in mind, however, that they are not tax accountants. That is not what they do. And it’s not how the relationship works. Of course, they can make recommendations in this department. But don’t expect a relationship where the firm sends off an “Accountant’s Copy” once a month to reconcile for taxes.
Additionally, smaller attorneys just starting out, or larger firms needing a full-time accounting department, may not find Accounting Girl the right fit.