Learn How Your Finance Department Can Inspire Growth

Almost all departments within all companies have an untapped ‘cognitive surplus’. A ‘cognitive surplus’ is the difference between the specific tasks an employee is assigned to do and what they actually are capable of doing – the actual versus the potential work.

It seems obvious, but to tap into it the ‘Cognitive Surplus’ can make a huge difference.

Companies such as 3M, Dell and Google have all implemented what is called ’20% time’ or ‘innovation time’ – one day of their working week, dedicated to whatever projects they like… provided it benefits the company in some way.

Does it pay off?

One might wonder: Does it pay off? Well, at Google this has resulted in successful projects such as Gmail, Google News and AdSense, and according to ex-employee, Marissa Mayer, as many as half of Google innovations are a result of ’20% time’.

But, while this approach might be considered something market leaders can utilise, many finance departments perceive they barely have the time to complete all the necessary work at present, never mind crafting new and innovative ideas, supporting procedures that aid business growth.

Yet finance departments really do need this ‘innovation time’.

In this slow and sometimes contracting economy, the next two years will be critical for businesses. It will fall largely on finance departments to walk the thin line between productive spending and managing a dwindling pool of resources. Additionally, with a host of new financial regulations coming into place in this two-year period, financial departments will be instrumental in helping businesses to remain compliant without losing their current standing.

This extra pressure and workload will make it difficult for finance to inspire new talent whilst holding on to the employees they already have. Finance professionals require stimulating challenges without being overloaded with extra work – they need ’20% time’ to effectively tap-in to their expertise, and not have their time consumed by lengthy, repetitive tasks – that can be automated.

How to make time for tapping into ‘Cognitive Surplus’ in the finance department

One way in which businesses can help free up some of their finance department’s time to complete tasks, is by automating the tedious and time-consuming tasks that turn prospective talent off finance work. Reconciliation is one such set of tasks that finance professionals find particularly tiresome and time consuming. Fortunately it is now possible to automate account reconciliation, processing hundreds of thousands of transactions in just minutes rather than hours or potentially days.

While significantly reducing reconciliation errors, automation also frees up large chunks of time that could be dedicated to maintaining compliance, providing strategic insight in this tough economy.

Why Finance Recruiters Are an Important Part of Your Hiring Strategy

When you need to fill positions within the finance department, it is important that you create a hiring strategy. Finance recruiters will be able to help you fulfill the strategy entirely so that you can focus on other areas of the business. If you are responsible for all aspects of hiring, you will find that the process is going to take considerably longer – and this may not be something that you can afford.

Your hiring strategy needs to consist of such things as:

a sufficient job description
a large pool of candidates to choose from
a list of desirable skills
knowledge of the industry
various ways of listing the job opening
a timeline

Executing the hiring strategy is going to take knowledge of the hiring process, as well as multiple people to help you. You cannot be responsible for creating the job description, creating job opening listings around the area, compiling all of the resumes, and conducting interviews. It simply cannot be done because you have other responsibilities within your organization.

Finance recruiters will be able to streamline the process because it is their business. They are responsible for recruiting finance individuals all the time and therefore they already have a lot of the work done for you. They have a timeline that can be customized for you, they have job descriptions that can be tweaked for your organization, and they most likely have a large pool of candidates that they can already begin pulling from.

By working with professional finance recruiters, you can make short work of hiring a qualified individual for your organization. Regardless of the actual job position that you need to hire for, a recruiter will be able to find you someone quickly so that you can get them started right away.

The longer you leave a job position open, the more strenuous it is going to be for the others within the department. For example, if you need someone in the Accounts Receivable department, everyone else is going to work longer hours and have more on their desks because you are short one person. If you begin to stress all of your employees out for too long, you may be looking for more than just one person because others will get tired of picking up the slack and leave the organization as well.

Finance recruiters will simplify the process, expedite the hiring process, and find you qualified candidates. They are familiar with the skills needed within the finance industry and can tell the difference between someone who has skills and someone who has a polished resume. This will work to your advantage. So that you can feel confident in the person that you ultimately offer the job position two.

You can be as involved in the process as you want to be – and finance recruiters will pick up the slack when needed so that you can meet all of your deadlines and have someone on staff quickly.

Fire Truck Financing – How to Write a Request For Proposal

Most fire departments don’t know that their request for fire truck financing proposals actually set themselves up to receive less bidders, create more confusion for themselves, and get worse financing terms. This article will help guide your fire department to set up a successful RFP process.

First, the RFP is not the time to shop for knowledge.

Too often, fire departments send out RFP requests without knowing what they exactly want. So, they effectively use RFP process to shop for information about lenders’ offerings. In other words, your fire department sends our RFP that asks for some very basic terms such as interest rate for a 10 year loan. Your department decided on a 10 year loan because of a general feeling that should be the term. The lenders reply and offer only the interest rate. This is the first step where you start getting a bad deal.

Here’s why. There are 7 factors that control how much you pay when borrowing money. When you send out a RFP based on the basic information above, you are opening yourself to those lenders who understand that they can present a low rate but overcharge you on the other 6 factors. Often, this low rate is calculated on an alternative interest rate formula which, although legal, is inconsistent with the most popular method of calculating rate. You won’t even know that you are being overcharged until after you sign the contract.

Second, determine what you really want.

If you don’t have the department resource who truly understands fire truck financing, find a trustworthy and knowledgeable person who can help you understand exactly what financing terms you want. This person should not be someone who will be bidding later so you have an objective source of help. They should help you set a general payment budget, what terms or restrictions you are willing to undertake, and financing term. By using this information, you will then be able to use the RFP process for its correct use – getting the best deal – rather than fact finding current financing options.

Your bid will be concise and provide a fair opportunity for lenders to present their best options. When lenders see a general RFP, they know that there are sharks who play bidding games. So, they don’t bid and your department ends up with fewer bidders and higher overall borrowing costs.

Finally, specifically ask for the right financing terms.

When you ask for the right information in the RFP, all lenders know you have set up a level playing field that they have a chance to win. So, more lenders respond to your RFP. And they work harder because they feel they have a fair chance to win. You’ll get overall better proposals.

There are 7 specific items you want your bidders to include in their proposal. When you ask for these 7 items, you will get more proposals, and better proposals, and you will also get information that is presented uniformly. That means you will have a far easier job in comparing the proposals since they will be “apple to apple”. Otherwise, you will end up with a wide variety of proposals that seem to have no relation to each other. Your job in comparing them will be harder, you will miss key cost factors, and you’ll be more susceptible to the game players and less likely to know what the best proposal is.

The 7 factors are:

How much you want to borrow
How many years you want to pay back the loan.
The date of your first payment (specify a date)
How frequently you want to make payments (monthly, annually, etc.)
Details of any fees or costs at any time during the financing term (this means not just “origination fees” or costs which are charged at the beginning but any fee or cost whatsoever such as prepayment fees or lien release fees or balance verification fees, etc.)
Interest rate and how it is calculated and how long the rate is fixed
Payout details (the bank must verify that they will pay your vendors according to the contract). Otherwise you may incur extra fees from your vendor because they can’t pass along a chassis discount, for example. This is a hidden way you will pay more for your financing choice even though your lender is not charging the fee.

In summary.

The key to any successful RFP process is to know what you want. Just as you didn’t send out RFP’s for a “fire truck” without any specifications about chassis, engine, transmission, or pump, you shouldn’t send a RFP for financing proposals without specifying the exact terms you want. Explore the options before you bid and with someone you trust and is knowledgeable. Require specific information that your lender has to put in writing upfront so that you create a fair proposal environment, get more interested bidders, and get a easily comparable set of proposals to choose from.

Managing Responsibilities In Departments

All organizations, including businesses, have managers. They may not be called managers because there are some other titles which can be used such as, leader, director and so on. No matter what is the title, the task is the same or much of similar and no matter what is the organization. If you are a student in a school or if you are in full employment, the managers of your organization will have to fulfill a few tasks. These tasks are to plan, organize, co-ordinate, command and control In other words, people also say that managers “POCCC.”Most businesses have departments organized on “functional lines.” This explains a functional structure of the business.

These departments are Human Resource department, Marketing Department, Accounting and Finance Department and Production Department. Every department plays its role in running a stupendous business.
• HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARTMENT:

Managers in this department are responsible for, recruiting staff, preparing job descriptions, planning and implementing staff training programs, keeping staff records, disciplining and warning staff if necessary, negotiating with workers, interviewing and selecting staff and predicting number of employees needed for the business. This department is very vital for the business in many ways. With the increasing cost of recruiting staff, it is necessary for the HR Department to manage people firmly.

• MAKRETING DEPARTMENT:

The managers in this department will be responsible fore, market research into existing or new markets in order to identify new market opportunities, planning new products, working closely with Research and Development Department and Production Department, deciding on the best marketing mix product and also make sure that this is put into effect and also keeping records of the sales of the each product. Without effective marketing, it is not possible for a business to survive. The marketing managers play a key role in keeping in contact with the consumer to those products will meet their need.

• ACCOUTNING AND FINANCE DEPARTMENT:

The main responsibilities of the managers include, recording all financial transactions with other firms, collecting all of this data together and presenting it in the form of regular accounts, preparing budgets for whole of the business, keeping control of the cash flow, deciding on the most appropriate methods of finance and analyzing the profitability of new investment projects.

Florida Department Of Banking And Finance

The Florida Department of Banking and Finance provides Florida consumers with information and education they need to make informed financial decisions. For example, some of its important services can be listed as follows.

Consumer assistance and answers to general insurance and financial questions are available through our toll-free help line. These help lines are available through regional service offices or website. The Florida Department of Banking and Finance claims that each year, our specialists handle more than 450,000 consumer calls.
The regional services offices are located strategically throughout the state and provide consumers with access to one-on-one guidance regarding insurance and financial issues.
The Florida Department of Banking and Finance offers free community outreach programs that reach thousands of Floridians each year.
The department has also partnered with the Department of Elder Affairs to conduct a special outreach program helping seniors with their insurance concerns. This is known as SHINE, in short. The abbreviation is Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders.
The Florida Department of Banking and Finance also offers free consumer guides. They do not take a single penny from the consumer for making the guide available to them. The consumer guide has been made available by the Department on a range of topics relevant to today’s insurance and finance markets. If you want to have that consumer guide, the best way is to order or review it online. What is more, you can also get the printout of the online consumers guide.

Business Finance Training and Effective Business Solutions

Business finance training refers to programs that teach individuals how to handle various financial duties. Finance training is similar to finance tips in that both help business owners make better monetary decisions, but training programs offer a more detailed explanation of finance strategies. Training programs vary in price and can be used by the owners and employees of a business.

The most basic business finance training provide information on budgeting, preparing financial statements, managing cash flow, strategizing, forecasting, improving performance, and applying basic procedures and concepts to more effectively manage a business. These programs are recommended for new business owners to help them understand standard business practices. Once these basic methods are mastered, more specific financial training may be looked into.

Advanced business finance training delves more deeply into a certain financial procedure or concept, usually at a higher cost than basic programs. Advanced programs may teach business owners how to set up effective business models, make decisions based on quantitative analysis, manage and control accounts, practice due diligence, measure productivity, and strategize concerning mergers and acquisitions.

Taking part in any kind of business finance training gives a business owner the resources to make more intelligent business decisions that result in increased productivity and profits. Many different types of courses are available either online or at a specified location. Some programs may even offer the option to train at the business. Taking into consideration the needs and abilities of a business is the key to finding the best business finance training.

A business finance solution generally refers to methods of funding and maintaining the finances of a business. Most solutions involve ways of obtaining working capital, but others also offer ways of protecting and increasing that capital.

To obtain working capital, business owners look to finance solutions that offer funding by several different means. The most common means are loans and financing. Asset-based loans use a business’s assets, such as inventory and equipment, as collateral. A business may also opt for a property loan in order to acquire commercial space. Invoice financing, such as factoring, involves liquidating or selling a business’s accounts receivables in exchange for quick funding. Some businesses look to trade financing to supply their inventory. The business will tell its financer the amount and cost of goods needed, and the financer will pay for the goods. The business then repays the amount financed over a specified period of time.

Most companies that provide business finance solutions also offer ways to protect and increase a business’s capital. Credit protection safeguards a business from daily risks, such as customers not paying on time, so that the business does not suffer incredible losses. This makes it much easier for the business to borrow money in the future, and it protects the balance sheet. A finance solution may also offer business insurance plans that increase the stability of a business. The most common types of business insurance are employee and public liability, car, property, and health insurance. These business finance solutions are designed to protect businesses against potential losses.

Functions of Business Finance

Strength and soundness of business depends on the availability of finance and competency with which it is used. The abundance of finance can do wonders and its scarcity can ruin even a well established business. Finance increases the strength and viability of business. It increases the resistance capacity of a business to face losses and economic depression. It is just like a lubricant, the more it is applied to the business, the quickly the business will move. Following headings explain the importance of finance to business:

(1) Initiating Business: Finance is the first and fore most requirement of every business. It is the starting point of every business, industrial project etc. Whether you start a sole proprietary concern, a partnership firm, a company or a charity institution, you need ample amount of finance. It is equally important for profit seeking and non-profit activities. It is equally important for a multinational organization and for a free dispensary.

(2) Purchase of Assets: Finance is needed to purchase all sorts of assets. Even if credit is available some down payment is to be made. Mostly finance is needed at the start of business for the purchase of fixed assets. These fixed assets consume a large amount of initial investment of the entrepreneur, so he may face liquidity difficulty in running day to day affairs of the business.

(3) Initial Losses: No business attains high profit on the first day of commencement. Some losses are normal before the business reaches its full capacity and generate enough revenue to match cost. Finance is necessary so that these initial losses can be sustained and business can be allowed to progress gradually.

(4) Professional Services: Certain business need services of specialized personnel. Such personnel have rich experience in specialized fields and they can provide useful guidance to make business profitable. Nevertheless these services are costly. Finance is always needed so that services of such professional consultants can be hired.

(5) Development: Business is always exposed to change. New innovations and emergence of new technologies replaces old techniques out of market. So in order to remain in the market, it is needed to keep the business well equipped with all emerging tools and techniques. This required finance. New technology is always expensive as it is better than others. So finance is needed to purchase new equipment and keep the business running.

(6) Information Technology: Information technology has now changed the geography of the business battle field. The home markets have now extended virtually to other comers of the world. The whole world can be your customer or competitor. To face such a fierce competition, IT is needed. Skills and competency in IT can perform miracles. But finance is again the decisive factor. It is very much needed to incorporate expensive IT products in the business.

(7) Media War: The advertisement and promotion have now become a vital elements for the success of business. The way a businessman approaches a customer and convinces him to purchase his product has become more important than the quality of product. With advertisement on International media, a businessman can reach the minds of millions of people around the globe. However, advertisement is a luxury which every business can’t afford. Huge finance is required to meet advertisement expenses.

(8) Resource Management: Finance is very essential for efficient resource management. Resources here include capital and human resources. Maintenance of plant and equipment and training of employees all need finance. Establishment of new industrial units, expansion of plant capacity, hiring of well learned skilful laborers – all
these factors can lead to huge revenue but at the first place they need finance to start with.

(9) Stock Investments: These investments are those which are made to hold ample stock of raw materials in hand. Bulk purchase of raw materials is profitable in a sense that purchase discount can be attained and there is no danger of production halts. So companies most often hold huge amount of stocks and raw materials. But such an investment can be made only if a company has sufficient capital or finance to carry out its daily operation easily besides holding huge stock.

(10) Combating Risks: Everything is exposed to one or more risks. A business is also exposed to variety of risks. These risks include natural hazards, burden of any huge liability, loss of market or brand name etc. Finance is needed to make business powerful, so that it can sustain occasional losses and liabilities.

The Primary Cause Of Business Financing Frustration

Finding proper business financing is not easy at the best of times for most small and medium sized business owners and managers.

There are a number of reasons that collectively explain why the business financing market can be so difficult to understand and navigate.

But probably the single biggest reason is the lack of useful information about how the business financing market actually works.

Business financing information and education sources predominantly come in two forms: 1) Text books; 2) Major bank advertising.

If you’ve ever read through a educational finance text book or taken a business financing course, you already know how difficult it can be to apply the theories, principles, and strategies to a small or medium sized business.

Our formal education system provides limited information as to how the market place works, how to plan for financing requirements, how to manage periods of growth, decline, transition, start up, etc.

Sure academic books and courses can go through all these areas in great detail, but is the information practical, real world, something you can relate to and apply yourself as a manager or owner of a small or medium sized business?

In most cases, the answer is a resounding NO.

Most finance text books speak to big business financing dynamics that are not easily transferable to small and medium sized business scenarios.

Outside of the formal education system, the next great source of business financing information is the information provided by the major banks, which they tend to make available to you by the boat load through their broad based marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, the information by itself seldom helps you determine if a particular institution would be able to provide you with financing, or what would be required to qualify for a loan.

The good news is that business financing sources continue to grow in numbers as more and more lenders carve out a particular piece of the market to service.

In order to take advantage of these alternatives, you need to have a solid approach in place when seeking business financing.

Here’s a short list of things to consider

>>> Develop a solid, ongoing, understanding of both your personal and business assets, income, and cash flow.

Regardless of the business financing model, these elements will always come into play to some degree.

Being able to demonstrate a solid understanding of your business financials is also an indication of your ability to manage the underlying business.

>>> Monitor and manage your personal and business credit.

Small and medium sized business financing is focused on both personal and business credit histories.

Regular reviews of both personal and business credit reports from the major credit reporting agencies are important to avoid errors and credit practices that can severely damage your borrowing power.

>>> Develop your marketing position.

Yes, seeking business financing is a marketing exercise.

When applying for business financing, you’re marketing your business to lending sources and they in turn are marketing their business financing programs to you.

Think of the lender as a customer to better understand what they’re looking for. Then, develop a business proposal that addresses all their potential needs and concerns.

>>> Research Lending Sources

There are lots of business financing sources. But there is also lots of variation in the types of business applications each one is prepared to consider.

Broad based lenders rely on credit history and net worth. As you get more specific in terms of financing application and industry, lender programs become more narrow and can be harder to locate.

You need to consider things like industry, sector, and geography when looking for business financing sources.

Financing consultants and business loan brokers can be an excellent source of information to aid you in this process.

>>> Qualify The Lender

Before you make a formal application, find out if the lender has the programs and lending track record to meet your specific needs.

Too often, the lender is doing all the qualifying.

>>> Compare your options

Depending on the scenario, there can be several financing strategies that could work for your business.

Make sure you take the time to compare before making a decision. The extra time spent could save you considerable time and money in the long run.

>>> Start Today

Regardless of what your business financing needs are right now, you should regularly invest time staying on top of your business financials, monitoring your credit, and researching financing sources that fit your industry and potential future requirements.

When the time comes to acquire capital, your proactive efforts can make all the difference in getting the capital you need with terms and timing that are acceptable to your business.