I recently attended an interesting presentation by an accountant about the valuation of businesses, which got me thinking about something relevant to all of us. He talked about how anybody with a little bit of training could do the number crunching with relative ease, and that where they add real value is in the interpretation of what those numbers mean, the experience of doing it for many businesses day in, day out, and their unique perspective on the particular sector or industry. They provide their ‘value add’ in the strategic advice and providing information beyond the actual accounting calculations. This got me thinking about the value add of what we do as a business.

Of course, we provide Cashiering, Payroll and Management Accounting services to law firms, but the provision of day-to-day postings, bank reconciliations, setting up payments, running the payroll, or providing a set of monthly accounts doesn’t add real value – there may be a cost saving in using us, but you could get the tasks done by employing somebody inhouse. The added value comes elsewhere.

It is, to some extent, the benefit of our clients not having to worry about holiday or sickness cover again, or the time drain of recruiting, training and managing members of staff, or being able to scale up or down without worrying about the workload implications for employees. But it is more than that. We have taken on the cashroom or ‘finance’ function of 170 law firms, of all shapes and sizes, across the length and breadth of the country. That has allowed us to review how those firms have previously done things, and pick and choose the best and most efficient processes, implementing them into our standard process from which all of our clients will benefit. That, I believe, is where some of the real added value comes – it couldn’t be obtained by recruiting in-house.

In addition, the other real value add is the cyber and fraud risk mitigation. Due to the scale of our business, and our processes, payment requests go through a process that couldn’t be replicated inhouse, and avoid any ‘single point of failure’ concerns. If you have one single cashier who sets up and authorises payments, a fraudster need only obtain a single set of bank login details. Even if you have multiple cashiers to check payment details, they are all likely to be on one single network, so if a hacker ‘gets in’, they may well have all the information and access rights they need! Our processes, and the simple fact that part of the procedure is done on our network (with stringent checks and balances in place) and part on your network (for authorisation), it means that fraud risk is hugely reduced. Law firms are constantly being targeted by fraudsters, by virtue of the fact they hold significant sums of money, and the risks (and tactics of fraudsters) are ever evolving, so minimising that risk wherever possible is crucial.  Somebody recently said to me that law firms are like mini banks, but without the resources required to securely protect the money they hold. That is exactly where the added value of an outsourced providers such as The Cashroom comes in to play.

So, I think that’s where we can add value to a law firms business – giving them industry ‘best practice’ processes, without any break in that service at holiday/sickness/busy times, and mitigating their fraud risk. Have a think about your business, and where you really add value to your clients. Doing so is an interesting exercise in itself, and will allow you to strategically review your marketing activities. Let’s face it, no client wants to know you are a ‘long established firm, dating back to….’!! They want you to tell them what sets you apart from the firm across the road, and why they should place their business with you. In other words, what is your value add?

Gregor Angus