Financial Visibility: The Key to Empowering your Clients and Differentiating your Firm

Feb 17, 2021 | Featured App

A typical day for one of your clients might feel like this:

My team used their personal cards and cash to purchase supplies this week for a big job we’re completing.

I sent multiple checks out last week (was it last week?) and I know some were deposited but not all of them.

I’m still waiting to receive payment on jobs we completed 2 months ago.

Is a cash crunch coming in a couple of weeks? Should we be taking on that new project we won yesterday?

Scenarios like these are all too familiar for small business owners and illustrate why financial visibility is key.


Why Financial Visibility is the Key to Empowering your Clients


A foundational understanding of where things stand

Financial visibility is all about knowing where your business stands today from a cash flow and payments perspective.

Many small businesses have irregular cash flows, and worse, most have very little cash liquidity. In fact 50% of SMBs have less than 15 days cash buffer according to a study from J.P. Morgan Chase.



Having a clear line of sight into your business’ current cash position is critical for SMBs. We felt that more acutely than ever in 2020.

Understanding today enables planning for tomorrow

Looking forward, rather than backward, only happens when business owners have a clear picture of where things sit today. Empowering your clients with financial visibility today enables them to answer questions like:

  • Is a cash crunch coming in 3-4 weeks?
  • Can we afford to hire a new employee to manage this period of growth?
  • How will our debt payments be impacted if we upgrade key equipment?

Enable joint decision making

Something wonderful also happens when there’s improved visibility in the business. Decision making can be decentralized. Small business owners can leverage their team in decision making more easily when the financial picture is clearer for everyone.


Achieving Visibility


Now if it were simple to reach that target end state, every business owner would be there. Below, we explore how you can achieve actionable visibility for your clients.

Improve data quality

Data quality is a huge issue. Most platforms that SMBs rely on to operate day-to-day don’t optimize for delivering high quality data.

You need look no further than banks or credit cards whose feeds break or deliver incomplete vendor names like “POS SALE”.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners and advisors can make in planning is to do so with incomplete or inaccurate data. A successful foundation for financial visibility starts with high quality data and provides the basis for your firm’s advisory services.

This is why Relay’s operating accounts and expense cards are directly integrated with QuickBooks Online & Xero to provide reliable, real-time, and enriched transaction data.

Reduce the delay between transaction and analysis

Remember our scenario from the beginning of this post? You can clearly see how having employees spend on their own cards or using cash creates blind spots for business owners. Suddenly you have a slew of expenses that can go unaccounted for until the receipts are submitted for reimbursement.

Additionally, the older data gets, the less useful it becomes for decision-making. The closer you can get to real-time data, the more informed your clients will be and the more valuable your services become.

Relay intentionally makes it simple to issue physical or virtual corporate cards for employees. That way your clients can monitor spend in real-time, control budgets, and avoid any cash flow surprises.

Automate manual processes

As much as you can, it’s pivotal to help small business owners automate manual processes. Manual processes are error prone, time consuming, and expensive.

Accounts payable are one of the most important pain points for SMBs in this area. A typical process could include:

  • Manual invoice intake
  • Processing & coding invoices
  • Approval processes
  • Initiating payments
  • Reconciling transactions

Businesses spend $15+ to process a paper invoice and make a check payment. These usually come with higher risk of error or fraud and longer payment timelines.

The more steps in the process, the more opportunities for something to go wrong. Mistakes in these processes can prevent a business from understanding its position today and be costly to fix down the road.

Automating AP can reduce cost per invoice by over 70%. You can streamline this process and reduce errors with a solution like Relay.

Relay automatically imports unpaid bills, powers approval workflows, lets SMBs pay bills for free by ACH or check, and auto-syncs back to QuickBooks Online and Xero.

Break down silos to create alignment

The final important piece of the puzzle is data accessibility. It’s pivotal for small business owners and their teams to have access to the data required to make decisions.

Back to our banking example, how many of your clients are still unable to make read-only access to their bank available? Data portability is key to creating alignment but many tools make it harder.

If your clients are stuck with platforms that make it harder to share data, it may be time to consider an upgrade.

At Relay, data portability and collaboration are key to our mission. That’s why we’re built with a simple user permission model that makes it easy for SMBs to share access securely. As a firm owner, you can also assign staff to individual accounts with specific roles.


Why Financial Visibility Differentiates Your Firm


When business owners can understand their performance at a glance, you’ve delivered tremendous value. When this real-time understanding is just the foundation for your firm’s advisory services, the value goes through the roof.

Firms offering advisory services generate 67% more revenue than those who don’t. Firms also report deeper client relationships and improved retention.


Looking to Improve Visibility for Your Clients?


Relay automates payables, simplifies expense management, and auto-syncs enriched data directly to QuickBooks Online and Xero. Unlike any other bank, Relay is designed with accountants and bookkeepers in mind.

Relay lets you see all your clients in a single portal, integrates directly with Quickbooks Online and Xero, and makes it easy to securely manage access to client banking.

Book a brief demo

Learn more about Relay’s partner program for accountants and bookkeepers.

Visit our partners page