My father was fond of saying you need three things in life – a good doctor, a forgiving priest, and a clever accountant. The first two, I’ve never had much use for.
This phrase, which appears in the movie Schindler’s List, refers to a truth of the business world: an accountant is, in a way, a business consultant who can solve or prevent problems.
“The work of an accountant is more than just filing taxes. That is a misconception. But many are unaware that, by understanding and managing financial reports, an accountant can contribute with strategies to improve the business”, says Arthur Garcia, CEO, and co-founder of Contabi Alliance, an association based in San Francisco, California, that brings together professional accountants in Latin America, to create community among them and offer them education and collaboration.
All of its members are leading accounting firms with a marked technological accent; that is, they use cloud tools to perform their services. Currently, ten different countries are represented, and their members know the rules of their markets to perfection, as each one has different regulations for its fiscal and accounting aspects.
The benefits of joining an association
It is well known that the business association brings multiple benefits. “The power is in the numbers,” says Arthur. In the case of Contabi, the accountants who join have access to:
- International collaboration. “If an accountant in Mexico has an e-commerce client that wants to enter the United States, he must investigate in Google what he needs to do so: what permits, how to get a bank account, how to register it, etc.”, exemplifies the co-founder. “If you are our member, you simply have to enter our private community and connect with a member in the U.S. to ask for references or even pass the client to him.”
- Make community. “If the client has a question, he asks an employee. If they don’t know, they go to the owner. But many times, the firm owner also does not know the answer, but a colleague may do and can help him. But if the owners don’t belong to a community, they can’t make these connections,” explains Arthur. Thus, the idea of creating a community becomes relevant.
- Update and education. Contabi also offers education to its members, especially on leadership issues and technological innovations in the accounting activity. They share the modern tools they can use in their processes to make their firms more efficient, scale, and grow. “If someone wants to take the leap and learn how to transform their firms digitally, we can also help,” clarifies the entrepreneur.
The purpose of Contabi is to “Lead, connect, and accelerate the adoption of cloud accounting across the Americas – by creating an engaged globally recognized Latino community.” This benefits not only the firms but also the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). “There are many who don’t want to change their processes, but those who adopt the new tools will be able to achieve more success,” he emphasizes.
And he’s right: Businesses using cloud-based applications grew 30% faster than those that didn’t, according to Xero Blog.
Owners get tools for decision making, and mistakes are minimized.
A board of directors to unite them all
Contabi’s work goes beyond offering these added values to its members. They also help their non-direct clients: SMEs and entrepreneurs in Latin America and the US, who are looking for an accountant to advise them and take away the headaches caused by bureaucracy.
How do they help them?
Contabi created a directory of accountants with professionals validated by the association, which verifies their ability, if they have their license up to date, the certifications they hold, if they are specialists or in which areas they can advise according to the industry in which they operate.
Arthur detected that one of the most common “pains” among business owners is that they solve their tax questions with other entrepreneurs or even with relatives. But in reality, they need professional consultation, since the decisions they make will directly impact their companies and their income. From what type of entity should they form, the licenses they need to operate, how to hire their employees, what taxes they should pay, etc.
“By entering the directory on our site, people can find that trustworthy accountant who not only helps them register their company, do their taxes, or take their payroll but also advise on how to grow their restaurant, construction company, nonprofit or e-commerce business. We have something for everyone!” says the CEO of Contabi.
This brings tremendous value to the Latinx entrepreneurial community, specifically in the United States. As there is an opportunity for international collaboration, accountants can advise their clients regarding real estate, company taxes in other countries, and other tax inquiries that may arise among immigrant entrepreneurs.
Accountant Wanted, Urgently
Once the guidelines for the coronavirus relief programs were released, many business owners turned to their accountants for help. Because to apply for the assistance, they needed specific reports and having everything documented. Those SMEs that did not use accounting software struggled to meet the requirements promptly.
“The role of accountant changed after COVID,” says Arthur. “I know of many members of Contabi who also became their clients’ therapist to help them gather those documents.”
According to the CEO, the role of the accountant will get more relevant by the end of the year, when the fiscal activity of the companies is closed, especially for those who obtained resources that can be forgiven, as it will be necessary to prove how the funds were used. Also, for those who feel pressured and are thinking of closing their businesses since a good accountant can show them alternatives and opportunities, e.g., to sell the company or to sell their customer database.
What awaits for Contabi in the following years?
One of its goals is to grow its coverage so it can represent the 20 Spanish speaking countries in the Americas. Hence, its CEO foresees that Contabi chapters will be opened by country or region, to manage actions and messages better.
“It will be difficult, but it’s what we want to do to deliver more focused and specialized value to our members and our customers.”
Whether you want to join this association as an accountant, or you are looking for a professional to advise you on your business, you can contact Contabi at www.contabialliance.com or [email protected]